Royal Navy Manning - Extreme Solutions Being Tried

One of the foremost problems is undoubtedly infra. Why should a well qualified airman with good A-levels and perhaps a degree live in 70 year old plus accommodation, with no heating or hot water then go to work in workshops that are so run down they’re dangerous when he can go outside and earn three times as much?

Yet DIO stifle any form of innovative thinking and cause more money to be flushed down the drain by short termism.

Regards,
MM
Are you still serving ?
By that I mean can you influence ( or know anyone who can ) stop this rot.

It really is not a good thing.
 
One of the foremost problems is undoubtedly infra. Why should a well qualified airman with good A-levels and perhaps a degree live in 70 year old plus accommodation, with no heating or hot water then go to work in workshops that are so run down they’re dangerous when he can go outside and earn three times as much?

Yet DIO stifle any form of innovative thinking and cause more money to be flushed down the drain by short termism.

Regards,
MM
Are you still serving ?
By that I mean can you influence ( or know anyone who can ) stop this rot.

It really is not a good thing.
As of 1 April 2018, the infra budget goes back to the Front Line Commands, with DIO being restructured to provide the infra expertise. This gives the FLCs the ability to prioritise infra work to meet their needs, rather than DIO deciding what suited their plans. Whether it gives them the ability to find actual infra experts is yet to be determined.


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One of the foremost problems is undoubtedly infra. Why should a well qualified airman with good A-levels and perhaps a degree live in 70 year old plus accommodation, with no heating or hot water then go to work in workshops that are so run down they’re dangerous when he can go outside and earn three times as much?

Yet DIO stifle any form of innovative thinking and cause more money to be flushed down the drain by short termism.

Regards,
MM
Are you still serving ?
By that I mean can you influence ( or know anyone who can ) stop this rot.

It really is not a good thing.
As of 1 April 2018, the infra budget goes back to the Front Line Commands, with DIO being restructured to provide the infra expertise. This gives the FLCs the ability to prioritise infra work to meet their needs, rather than DIO deciding what suited their plans. Whether it gives them the ability to find actual infra experts is yet to be determined.


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And if you think that is going to make any jot of difference, I have a Flying pig you can rent.

Remember, one of the reasons the DIO was founded was to stop short-termism from FLCs using the Infra pot as a nice easy way to make in-year savings.




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Again, I agree. But I think it's slightly deeper than that. Our crewroom branch meeting of the Judean People's Front decided that, whilst it's, on a practical level, a big blow to the old morale to live and work in poor domestic and technical accommodation, by far the more disheartening aspect was the feeling of not being valued. You'd be suprised just what we can and will put up with, if we feel that the people towards and at the to are appreciative and grateful. But we felt that is distinctly lacking. They do still talk a good game, as ever, but it's actions that count and it all seems sadly lacking- the lack of investment in infra again, amongst the other things I've previously mentioned, being a symptom not the actual cause.

To be honest, us poor old engineers (gawd bless us) have never felt particularly valued anyway by you magnificent men in their flying machines. I think the way engineers have been institutionally treated as a group over the years can pay testament to that. But we always believed that, deep down, there was a tiny bit of grudging respect, and that we were thought important in the grand scheme of RAF things. And I don't think we believe that anymore. I know I don't.
If it’s any consolation, you genuinely are valued (although I think the 'shop floor' relationship can vary significantly between FJ, ME and RW, let alone non-flying units) and I’ve recently been in a position to see just how much effort is being expended on resolving the matter.

The reason I say that infra should be front and centre is that, in my experience, few things are better for morale than being able to go back to a decent room in a decent block at the end of a days work. Provide good en suite accommodation and leisure facilities and in my experience you'll recruit and retain more; the statistics from those few bases where SLAM was heavily implemented before the budget was cut are telling. I'd also invest in some decent all weather protective work clothing for you guys as well.

I would willingly give up a sqn of F-35s or a couple of T26s to use the cash in that way.

Are you still serving ?
By that I mean can you influence ( or know anyone who can ) stop this rot.

It really is not a good thing.
I'll PM.

And if you think that is going to make any jot of difference, I have a Flying pig you can rent.

Remember, one of the reasons the DIO was founded was to stop short-termism from FLCs using the Infra pot as a nice easy way to make in-year savings...
Added, to that, DIO will still 'own' the processes which have to be followed and will also claw back any savings made. For instance, if a stn cdr went to Travel Lodge and said, 'Look, I have £12M for 2 x SLAM blocks. However, I reckon you could build them for far less than that. I also want you to build them outside the wire so we can sub let excess capacity in such a way that they'll have paid for themselves within 10 years.'

DIO would have absolute apoplexy whether the money is with the FLCs or not!

Regards,
MM
 
Whilst acknowledging the infra point, for me, the much more dangerous situation for the RN is that it forgets a) what got us to the point of radical action and b) how radical that action was. I don't think that the Manning changes have been "baked in", and I fear that in a couple of years we will return to our bad old ways...


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If it’s any consolation, you genuinely are valued (although I think the 'shop floor' relationship can vary significantly between FJ, ME and RW, let alone non-flying units) and I’ve recently been in a position to see just how much effort is being expended on resolving the matter.

The reason I say that infra should be front and centre is that, in my experience, few things are better for morale than being able to go back to a decent room in a decent block at the end of a days work. Provide good en suite accommodation and leisure facilities and in my experience you'll recruit and retain more; the statistics from those few bases where SLAM was heavily implemented before the budget was cut are telling. I'd also invest in some decent all weather protective work clothing for you guys as well.

I would willingly give up a sqn of F-35s or a couple of T26s to use the cash in that way.
Purely my own perception (and obviously its the perception that really matters, whatever the truth may be) is that we may be valued to a point at the shop floor level (i.e. up to say, Sqn OC level). And I do agree that there's a different aircrew/groundcrew dynamic between the FJ and ME Sqns- something I was always a little jealous of whenever on FJ (no experience of rotary). Once it gets to Gp Capt it's 50/50 though- my current Stn Cdr certainly doesn't like 'the little people', engineers or otherwise. (Or indeed anyone below the rank of Wg Cdr). Above that, at best, we're a begrudging necessary evil on the balance sheet, who make Stns look untidy but are handy for guard duties. I could give you lots of examples to explain my point- pay, promotion prospects, rank equivalency to other trades within, and the other Services. Commissioning aside, the RAF has no scheme for the competent engineers to be given early extra training, responsibility and qualifications like the Army's Articifer scheme, for example. Just around a 20 year grind to Chf Tech (i.e. 1 rank below SSgt), if you're very good/lucky. Post NEM, I'm fairly sure if you ask any of the armourers at the mo (though I'm aware you have very limited experience with them due to your ME employment- they're a weird bunch), you will find that they really don't feel valued at pretty much any level. But like I said, I'm off, so to me it doesn't really matter anymore. If anything, it just makes me happier, and more committed to leaving, which can only be a good thing when it comes to helping make my transition to the real world more successful.

However, my cathartic rant aside, (I'm at work, so with my new levels of RAF induced motivation, I have plenty of time on my hands) as this is a thread concerning Navy retention, and to back up your second point, I was at Marham recently for a course. The (media reported) 500m infrastructure spend ready for Lightning seems to be cracking on at a fair old pace. New hangars, Sqn buildings, operating surfaces, Ops buildings- it's like DIY SOS on crack. No money for the gym though, which seemed very small and run down, with portakabins for the CV equipt. Or the med centre, which really didn't seem fit for purpose. The accomodation/messes, apart from the lucky few in the 'good' blocks, definitely isn't something that, as you say, could even remotely be described as a "decent room in a decent block at the end of a days work". And that's where a number of RN engineers (and RAF, of course) will be heading to live. I know people will talk about the 500m, and say things like 'different budgets', or 'industry partnerships' etc. But just 5% of that spend, had it been made to general infrastructure, could have had so much benefit and added value to the people that will work and live there. Instead, it will only magnify to those engineers (and others) what/who is valued, and who isn't.
 
Sadly, your comments are all too familiar and the hemorrhaging of experienced SNCOs (I assume) such as yourself is an enormous concern; this issue is not just about recruiting because the new guys (AMM...discuss!) need supervision.

I would therefore 'like' your post but fear it would be inappropriate! :(

Regards,
MM
 
Sadly, your comments are all too familiar and the hemorrhaging of experienced SNCOs (I assume) such as yourself is an enormous concern; this issue is not just about recruiting because the new guys (AMM...discuss!) need supervision.

I would therefore 'like' your post but fear it would be inappropriate! :(

Regards,
MM
Actually, it's you, the mid-level 'equipment operators' in RAF speak, I genuinely am concerned and feel sorry for. Because you're the ones flying around in the metal tubes, over water and sometimes over hostile territory. The thing that's keeping you safe, and allowing you to operate, is the engineering. The control runs, the fire suppression systems, TCAS, DASS, the ejection seats, the fuel pumps, the landing gear. All that stuff needs to work (well, ish), so you can go home at the end of the sortie and see your significant others, and kiss your kids on the head and ask what kind of a day at school they've had. And you're relying (whether you like it or not, and I can only imagine you don't), on the skill, and the ability of others to make that happen. Except increasingly, those others are lacking skill and competence, through no fault of their own, due to inexperience and cuts to their training meaning they don't have the same level of professional development. And they're lacking good supervision and guidance when it's needed most, because the real experience is heading out the door to where it feels more valued. And they're lacking motivation, because of all the things we've mentioned.

I really do admire those who put on the green flying suits and sign the F700s. It's an incredibly difficult, complex and risky job you do, day after day. But I don't envy you at all.
 
Purely my own perception (and obviously its the perception that really matters, whatever the truth may be) is that we may be valued to a point at the shop floor level (i.e. up to say, Sqn OC level). And I do agree that there's a different aircrew/groundcrew dynamic between the FJ and ME Sqns- something I was always a little jealous of whenever on FJ (no experience of rotary). Once it gets to Gp Capt it's 50/50 though- my current Stn Cdr certainly doesn't like 'the little people', engineers or otherwise. (Or indeed anyone below the rank of Wg Cdr). Above that, at best, we're a begrudging necessary evil on the balance sheet, who make Stns look untidy but are handy for guard duties. I could give you lots of examples to explain my point- pay, promotion prospects, rank equivalency to other trades within, and the other Services. Commissioning aside, the RAF has no scheme for the competent engineers to be given early extra training, responsibility and qualifications like the Army's Articifer scheme, for example. Just around a 20 year grind to Chf Tech (i.e. 1 rank below SSgt), if you're very good/lucky. Post NEM, I'm fairly sure if you ask any of the armourers at the mo (though I'm aware you have very limited experience with them due to your ME employment- they're a weird bunch), you will find that they really don't feel valued at pretty much any level. But like I said, I'm off, so to me it doesn't really matter anymore. If anything, it just makes me happier, and more committed to leaving, which can only be a good thing when it comes to helping make my transition to the real world more successful.

However, my cathartic rant aside, (I'm at work, so with my new levels of RAF induced motivation, I have plenty of time on my hands) as this is a thread concerning Navy retention, and to back up your second point, I was at Marham recently for a course. The (media reported) 500m infrastructure spend ready for Lightning seems to be cracking on at a fair old pace. New hangars, Sqn buildings, operating surfaces, Ops buildings- it's like DIY SOS on crack. No money for the gym though, which seemed very small and run down, with portakabins for the CV equipt. Or the med centre, which really didn't seem fit for purpose. The accomodation/messes, apart from the lucky few in the 'good' blocks, definitely isn't something that, as you say, could even remotely be described as a "decent room in a decent block at the end of a days work". And that's where a number of RN engineers (and RAF, of course) will be heading to live. I know people will talk about the 500m, and say things like 'different budgets', or 'industry partnerships' etc. But just 5% of that spend, had it been made to general infrastructure, could have had so much benefit and added value to the people that will work and live there. Instead, it will only magnify to those engineers (and others) what/who is valued, and who isn't.
The same issues exist in the army for attached arms, our LAD was nothing more than an annoyance for the higher ups in the Irish Guards. We made the place look untidy and they had no idea of why we were there in the first place. Vehicles and weapons were always working so why on earth were we there!

As for progression, within the REME at lest we did have the tiffy side but there was the class 1 armourer shortage. Not surprising since they wanted to load as many people onto the tiffy course as they could but I digress. Before I left there was a large shortfall in class 1 armourers, they were like hens teeth. The obvious solution would have been to fast track capable class 2 armourers onto the upgrader course, but we cannot have that. Never mind that at my first posting due to the class 1 on long term sick leave I ran the armoury for 18 months with no support.

So it seems no matter which service you are in you are going to run into these same issues which really should not exist.
 
Actually, it's you, the mid-level 'equipment operators' in RAF speak, I genuinely am concerned and feel sorry for. Because you're the ones flying around in the metal tubes, over water and sometimes over hostile territory. The thing that's keeping you safe, and allowing you to operate, is the engineering. The control runs, the fire suppression systems, TCAS, DASS, the ejection seats, the fuel pumps, the landing gear. All that stuff needs to work (well, ish), so you can go home at the end of the sortie and see your significant others, and kiss your kids on the head and ask what kind of a day at school they've had. And you're relying (whether you like it or not, and I can only imagine you don't), on the skill, and the ability of others to make that happen. Except increasingly, those others are lacking skill and competence, through no fault of their own, due to inexperience and cuts to their training meaning they don't have the same level of professional development. And they're lacking good supervision and guidance when it's needed most, because the real experience is heading out the door to where it feels more valued. And they're lacking motivation, because of all the things we've mentioned.

I really do admire those who put on the green flying suits and sign the F700s. It's an incredibly difficult, complex and risky job you do, day after day. But I don't envy you at all.
I agree to an extent and there have certainly been some moments in my career where the tasking made me a tad uncomfortable; but that's what we get the extra pay for and compared to my RAF heroes of WWII, I was on holiday. Equally, I don't have to crawl into the fuel tanks of an aircraft sat baking in the desert looking for a tiny leak, or work on a stubborn hydraulic leak in freezing conditions for hours on end. Swings and roundabouts.

I was lucky in that much of my flying career was spent on the E-3D which had Airborne Technicians as part of the crew. I always felt that that produced a much closer relationship with the groundcrew who would also regularly fly with us when deploying.

...it seems no matter which service you are in you are going to run into these same issues which really should not exist.
To an extent although I still like to think - and hope - that we look after our guys a little better in the RAF. Certainly, the average return of service from our airmen (15 years) is considerably greater than the other 2 services. However, I acknowledge that some of that is the nature of RAF work and where we're based.

Regards,
MM
 
I was lucky in that much of my flying career was spent on the E-3D which had Airborne Technicians as part of the crew. I always felt that that produced a much closer relationship with the groundcrew who would also regularly fly with us when deploying.
The good thing about Airborne Technicians is, apart from the act that they can fix things whilst you're flying around of course, is that at least they're betting their own lives on their standard of work, along with yours! The same applies to GE's and SVCs on the AT fleet of course, so at least it offers some kind of guarantee. We just need to work out how to get a couple of them in to a Typhoon now!
 
Radar Techs also had an excellent reputation as in flight caterers as well! :)

Regards,
MM
 
Microwaving I assume?
If only; the only microwave on the E-3D was the roof-rack. The galley had only 2 small convection ovens...war is hell! However, some of the meals I've seen produced in those have been up there with Masterchef! :)

Regards,
MM
 
One of the foremost problems is undoubtedly infra. Why should a well qualified airman with good A-levels and perhaps a degree live in 70 year old plus accommodation, with no heating or hot water then go to work in workshops that are so run down they’re dangerous when he can go outside and earn three times as much?

Yet DIO stifle any form of innovative thinking and cause more money to be flushed down the drain by short termism.

Regards,
MM
I wonder why more senior military folks don't live off-base in private accommodation? It strikes me as a bit old-fashioned to be completely dependent on HMG for the quality of one's accommodation. What would the barriers be to living off-base if soldiers, sailors and airmen were provided a monthly stipend for that purpose?
 
I think this point can be applied across all three services, until there is a catastrophic failure of a platform clearly as a result of the recent (mid 00's onwards) cost cutting & funding reductions & a public inquiry resultant thereof, i can't see any change in higher ups attitude. As long as we keep saying nothing too controversial & rocking the promoton/knighthood boat or otherwise enabling such cuts in capability we'll always be making do with what we've got.
On the retention & future recruiting side of things, until we can provide the measurable equivalent in terms of service T&Cs & 1st rate accom & support why should anyone starting out in their chose career even consider one of the services, unless they are 'born' to it.
 

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