Dear All,

Am I alone is wishing to contest the orthodoxy that recruiting and retention are two sides of the same coin?

It seems to me that they are two sides of two different coins. Once we acknowledge this that what can be done to stem the haemorrhage of blokes in the first three years?

Ah, so it's not just my unit then ...

There is a certain amount of overlap between the two but getting a steady flow of recruits in does not guarantee retention. In fact, I'd say you need to work as hard on retention as on recruitment - but as we only have the bodies and time to do one properly we end up getting them in but losing them just as fast. In my experience, if you can get a soldier to reenlist once they'll keep on doing so. They might transfer teeth arm to Corps as the knees start to play up but they'll still be around somewhere.

So why do they decide to sack it during or after the first enlistment ? Some random thoughts from my brain, biased towards Corps as that's my background:

Lack of synchronisation and delays during the pre-CMS - CMS - A3 cycle. If they have to sit around for months waiting for a slot they'll lose the drive to get trained and drift away. They need to be given a tight challenging treadmill to climb onto that doesn't give them time to think. If they have to miss a step there needs to be another one along in a minute and someone to look after them in the meantime. Currently this is split between unit, sub-unit and ATR with variable funding and no central plan (or if there is one the writer needs a kick).

Once in and trained they end up at a subunit. Now they might hit another set of delays in being fed onto specialist courses. Often the subunit is dedicated to providing a capability provided by those who've been on the courses, so their training etc is built around that. There's no spare money or people to look after those waiting for courses so they tend to walk. Unit washes its hands as they're attached to the subunit now.

One bad camp or lousy mobilisation can make them leave as well. I've never forgotten the moron in charge of guard on one Bn camp I attended who put some juniors doing their trade exam on overnight stag before their final exams - after all, they couldn't do it during the day as they were on the course. So 24 hours without sleep and into the test. And could we get any of the hierarchy to tell the member or permanent staff involved to sort his life out ? Ho ho ho. They're soldiers, just tell them to get on with it. Of course they do, but then you don't see the faces around any more.

It appears to be getting better these days, but lack of training resourses often contributes to leaving. If you only get 10 blanks per w/e, knackered LRs, no radios, etc etc then you don't feel like you're doing something useful and so you walk. Or if you're in a sub-unit dedicated to supporting a regular formation but they don't even acknowledge you exist you can't really expect people to commit to that mission.

Trouble is, a lot of these points sound like (and are) whinging. Take them one by one and you can dismiss them all. Add enough of them up and people walk.


Book Reviewer
They are completely different, only thing in common is both being long words starting with R.

As a rule of thumb, Recruiting can be assisted by external agencies (adverts, RFCA, etc.) but Retention is usually hindered by them (Camps, Trade courses being cnacelled, MTD caps, etc.)

Both boil down to what is done in the "Basic TA Unit" - which is the TAC (and certainly not the Bn/REgt).
No I don't think they are one and the same process. (In a small part yes, we've been working on our recruits to show them how wonderfull the job actually is before they get bored of the current recruit training system)..

But the trained soldiers? Some of our more intelligent soldiers have been kept keen with new equipment and doing jobs I think many regulars would struggle to do. Also they are kept going with battlefield tours, skiing trips or extended weekend exercises overseas. ...... but their are those who are taking the mick and only doing to gucci weekends ..... and others only doing the geeky weekends.
Recruiting and retention are way different and as long as they are in the same sentence the retention will never get the resources they need. Nothing has changed in this respect over the years, the anti-climax after getting through recruit and role specific training is still there, the lost weekends where the ammunition or vital equipment hasn't turned up because of a pending G4 inspection still abound.

We just had to cancel a weekend of live firing at 21:00 on Friday because nobody in any of the four locations could drive a minibus, 20 soldiers sent home. Absolutely retention negative, but I doubt the headshed will be rocked at all, the regular staff are confronted by a whole host of obstacles that just don't exist in a regular Bn. Very few of them ever manage to rise to the task and usually only begin to make a difference as their posting comes to an end.

Been trying for two years to get a D1 course organised, but keep hearing that Bde driver training budget has been cut and is prioritised to loggy units etc etc. Why can't we get a smaller minibus or people carrier? Why can we carry weapons in a hired people carrier, but not in one belonging to a soldier on a 1771? These things shouldn't be difficult to overcome, but are seemingly unsurmountable.

There are other daft things like being asked/told to provide a camp guard of an Officer, SNCO, 2xNCO, & 9 ORs during the day on Saturday when the plan is to take 8 OR's onto a gallery range to develop application of fire and practice fire control orders. Where are we going to find 1+12 spare bodies in a TA sub-unit? The end result; we bivvy up on the ranges overlooking the camp to avoid the guard duty. I could mention a Scottish training area where you need to find 8 flag men before you even get started on the camp guard. Why do we even have flag men when they could use CCTV and let the MGS/Range Control do the whole thing consistently?

Grrrrrrr. You've got me all angry now.
D1!, why is driver training so poor. Its not that we can't train driving instructors (or used to), its just that we can't get them to train people.
We are we still training (loosely) in a similar manner to the late 80's, even thou driving licenses have become more difficult, many trades need IS(/IT) training, etc, etc.

And the demands on us have increased immensley... the main difference I see, is before the TA mainly controlled the training and now to a certain extent we don't. I'm pissed off being taught lessons like FIBUA (for example) from a regular who knows less than me (support arms problem ??)
Just had a rant on another thread which caused me to dig out the TAM Insert, "Managing Retention in the TA" Way too much good stuff in it to copy down for the forums but happy to photocopy and fax or if anyone knows where we can order more please post here.
Abs - 'Managing Retention in the TA'. I've seen that somewhere, but I can't remember where. Can you point me in the right direction? Does it have a 5 digit Army Code Number, or is it just a buckshee publication?

MSR - Can you make this a sticky so we can discuss it alongside but seperately to recruitment? Following work I am doing at the moment I will shortly have something to contribute to both, I hope.
Bits, no code on it anywhere. I think it might have been a one-off for Reg personnel in TA Units or maybe just a certain number issued per RHQ. I'll have a go at scanning it tonight and see if I can make a small enough file to email.

It's a very professional publication on TAM waterproof paper and colour so must have been expensive. Unfortunately, you will all be aware that we no longer refer to the lessons learnt file, we refer to lessons identified or observations from training. Do you think that's what the TA are really for - corporate memory to overcome the 2-year-posting-wheel-reinventors?
abacus said:
Do you think that's what the TA are really for - corporate memory to overcome the 2-year-posting-wheel-reinventors?
I think the same issue exists within the Regular Army though, especially in an Infantry battalion, where the CO has left RD, done his staff appointment, and now comes back to command his Battalion.

New brooms always sweep cleanest.
Our lot have been given a lump sum to buy something to aid retention. Since a sat range is out of the budget :cry: think they are going to buy a rib or quad bikes .
woody said:
Our lot have been given a lump sum to buy something to aid retention. Since a sat range is out of the budget :cry: think they are going to buy a rib or quad bikes .
Where did the cash for that come from? Just so I can ask for some for our unit.
folks - can't get the scanner to work so everyone who pmed me about the TAM insert please hold off until tomorrow and I'll give it a go from work.

Retention of the TA soldier is a TA thing. A regular writing a paper for a rebalancing debate may never hit the nub of it.
Either from some regimental fund or tara or some other dodgy fund might even be spending the money in case its lost in
next reorganisation as rrv is being put down .
Talking of money, does anyone have a rough figure for the cost of recruiting a soldier, getting him through CIC and then on to class 1? It would be mice to know what the cost of losing a soldier is.
It should be " Retention and Recruitment ", if you have a bucket with a hole in it you don't just keep putting more water in hoping to keep it topped up you plug the hole first then fill it. Especially if you're short of water..
Take some of the fortune wasted on advertising lies and silly recruitment drives and invest it in training the blokes already serving. This would involve an influx of common sense and the crime of re-adjusting budgets so will never happen.

Alternatively this could be a conspiracy theory where the government want as many people as cheap as possible semi trained and liable for call up in case the french get ideas...... :wink: :lol:
^"Poor retention fuels poor recruiting" TA Recruiting and Retention Study 1996

Thanks for the continued patience those of you who are waiting for the retention aide memoire to be emailed. Got it in today and as soon as my boffin dept turn in for work, I'll get it scanned.
Managing Retention in the TA Aide Memoire now available in jpeg format - 10 files 500kb in total.

pm me with your email address for a copy.

Edit to add:

Another 2 copies away. Guys (& girl) it would help if everyone who makes changes to the way they do things - either because of something they've picked up on ARRSE or an idea from elsewhere - posted what they had done and what difference it made.

Plenty of PSI and PSAO types read these forums and I know that some of you can be reluctant to put good ideas forward face-to-face so in here seems to be an obvious solution and one which we can all benefit from.

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