Sack Officers at 45

#1
I know it is the Daily Hate and nothing is ever official until it appears in the Telegraph but the following seems to have received relatively little comment on the site:

Julian Brazier MP wants to pare down the number of senior officers, leaving just a small cadre to fill specialist positions advising politicians. The plan, called ‘Manning The Army Of The Future’, represents the most drastic change to the structure of the Army since the Second World War.

Under his proposal, which could become policy by 2015 if it is approved by the Government, thousands of senior officers will be forced out.

Currently the Army has just over 7,000 senior officers holding the ranks of Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, Brigadier, Major General, Lieutenant General and General. Their starting salaries at these ranks range from £47,760 to £148,000.

The majority of these officers are 45 or older and reducing their numbers by half would save £144 million a year.
Mr Brazier believes the top end of the Army is ‘over-commanded’ and ‘over-administered’ and wants the money saved on salaries to be used on benefits such as housing for serving officers.

But former commander of British Forces in Bosnia Bob Stewart, now a Conservative MP, said: ‘If the “Career to 45” scheme is introduced many of the most talented officers will leave in their early thirties. Why would they hang around to 45, by which time they might struggle to find really good jobs in the major industries?’
On first reading this seems like a barking idea and even Bonking Bob has identified the weakness in the plan. It did however prompt me to have a look at the actual document produced by Julian Brazier and, quelle surprise, it would appear the Mail has been highly selective in what they've quoted. The full recommendation is:

The blueprint for an affordable, attractive structure for a modern officer corps was set out a generation ago by General Sir Frank Kitson [1]. He proposed that officer promotions be greatly accelerated, with younger commanding officers of battalions, brigade commanders in their late 30s and major generals at 40 (this would still be an older structure than developed in both world wars).

Thus most officer careers would end at 45. This would eliminate the expensive overhead of older officers, and reduce paralysing bureaucracy. It would reduce the requirement for many married quarters and much of the cost of Continuity of Education Allowance. For such a ‘half-career’ to appeal to quality people would require a generous boost to pension rights and gratuities absorb some of the savings.

As Kitson argued, today’s career ending at 55 is only, at most, a three-quarter one anyway, and people leaving at 40-45 would have a better chance of a second successful career than trying to start afresh 10 years later. More ‘early leavers’ would also increase the Army’s influence in civilian life.
All of a sudden that seems like a much more interesting proposition. For those who will point out that we need hordes of dedicated project managers/procurement experts (not something I necessarily agree with BTW) he does concede:

Of course, all services have exceptions: for example, Army intelligence analysts and procurement project managers could usefully go on well beyond 55, as they do at the moment;
I'm now at the stage of my career where I'm rapidly approaching the over 45 demographic and can certainly attest to the 'paralysing bureaucracy' that makes change incredibly painful (especially in the post Defence Reform era). I'd also agree that the top end of the Army (& other services) is over commanded with as much time spent on organisational in-fighting and OJAR enhancement as actually doing anything useful. Time for a radical change perhaps?
 
#2
On a related note is it better to shoot MPs with 7.62mm, 5.56mm or 9mm? Should dum-dum or tracer be allowed?
 
#3
I see the merit in this. As a former OR, I've left at 42 after a couple of years continuance and am now firmly ensconced in a second career.
 
#4
Not a bad idea at all.

With flesh on the skeleton of the Daily Snail's selective reporting intended to stir up the bile of Middle England, this has much merit - it would also help to rid the organisation of those maniacs in their 40-50s that still think they are as fit as they were when they commanding a Pl!

It is painful sometimes...
 
#5
I see the point behind younger officers but the reasoning in the article makes no sense.

It suggests that younger officers would save money whereas you'd still require the majority of the officer positions currently filled by older officers so you'd still be paying broadly the same wages each month, just to younger (wo)men.

It does also seem to ignore that the reason we had Brigadiers in their mid 20s in the World Wars was because they were the most senior men left to fill the gaps and not because the Army had suddenly decided that promoting a Captain to Acting Brig (or indeed a Sgt to Acting RSM) was a great idea.
 
#6
Either/both/sensible blend of structures is certainly called for given the cuts apparently necessary in other public services (but not, it seems, in ensuring that Barbadian waiters are fully trained, or that the Chinese exchequer is relieved of some of its' responsibilities by our own). The bloated numbers of very senior people can simply not be justified by the bleat of 'career', just as it can't in the Civil Service or Police. It makes a great deal of sense to bring the breadth of command responsibility down the age ladder, too. It happens in most fast moving industries and works very well.
 
#7
It depends (and this comes back to Ledwidge's book I reviewed a couple of days ago): what do you want your Officers to do, how do you assess that and who does the assessing?

A prime example is ACSC - why do we hold this to be the sine qua non of training for those c38-40 when it is in effect the same MA that a 22 year old can do straight from Uni? Why have we decided that we need an extra 16 years of experience to be able to do it over some spotty sprog civilian? What do those extra 16 years bring to the party and what are we willing to lose to get a SO1 Commander at 30 or 31?

My Grandfather Commanded his 2nd ship, as a new Cdr, at 32 - he wasn't great, but that's what we did in the 60s: why is warfare so much more complex nowadays that my Career Manager recommends that I don't hold out for a Cdr Command until I'm 40?
 
#8
The usefulness of an MA or MSc is directly tied to the individual's experience. A 22 year old with a degree of any sort is only employable in junior jobs. Once the individual has accrued some experience, then that experience, with (or indeed without) the MA ticket, is the key to their employability. I suspect that you would see much larger numbers of officers jumping ship once they had 8-10 years under their belt, if they had a worthwhile postgrad degree. In-service postgraduate degrees can be tied to return of service. Of course postgrad degrees taken later in life, while in the workforce, tend to be more aligned with the individual's specialism, rather than the MA/MSc taken while still a kid, which is of necessity, more general in scope.
So the experience a RN Logistics Officer and an Army SF Officer bring to the course are comparable, and the only reason we are delaying the course is to stop people leaving to early?

How much experience is enough experience? What is it about the experience that makes it 'experience'? Does it have to include being under fire, managing big teams, leading people or is it solely quantified by time? At the end of the day I think our "HR" process wouldn't know the answers to any of these questions, nor indeed actually function as a HR "in the real world".
 
#9
Are you talking about civvy street?
 
#10
It depends (and this comes back to Ledwidge's book I reviewed a couple of days ago): what do you want your Officers to do, how do you assess that and who does the assessing?

A prime example is ACSC - why do we hold this to be the sine qua non of training for those c38-40 when it is in effect the same MA that a 22 year old can do straight from Uni? Why have we decided that we need an extra 16 years of experience to be able to do it over some spotty sprog civilian? What do those extra 16 years bring to the party and what are we willing to lose to get a SO1 Commander at 30 or 31?

My Grandfather Commanded his 2nd ship, as a new Cdr, at 32 - he wasn't great, but that's what we did in the 60s: why is warfare so much more complex nowadays that my Career Manager recommends that I don't hold out for a Cdr Command until I'm 40?[/QUOTE

If you're being told by your CM not to hold out for Comd until you're 40 then, unless the RN is dramatically different to the Army, you're off the mark already and he's being polite. You'd probably be hoofed out under an "up or out at 45" policy.
 

Pararegtom

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
mmmm read the header wrong, shot officers with a .45 seems harsh a 9mm 0r 7.62m works even better in my experience, but back to thread, lets face it,at the age of 45 he,s a brig or major general and has killed more of his own lads by bad leadership than the enemy has.
 
#12
Sack Officers at 45?

What an excellent idea, can we do the same with politicians...????

Didn't think so.
 
D

Deleted 20555

Guest
#13
When you say "sack" do you actually mean "leave with a gold plated pension the likes of which others only dream of?"
 
#14
If you're being told by your CM not to hold out for Comd until you're 40 then, unless the RN is dramatically different to the Army, you're off the mark already and he's being polite. You'd probably be hoofed out under an "up or out at 45" policy.
Until the last 2 CO Designates Course, the average age of a CO of a FF/DD was 40.3 on assuming Command. A friend of mine was selected at 35 for Command, they then delayed his assignment until 37 because 'they' didn't want him to have it 'too soon'.
 

A2_Matelot

LE
Book Reviewer
#15
It depends (and this comes back to Ledwidge's book I reviewed a couple of days ago): what do you want your Officers to do, how do you assess that and who does the assessing?

A prime example is ACSC - why do we hold this to be the sine qua non of training for those c38-40 when it is in effect the same MA that a 22 year old can do straight from Uni? Why have we decided that we need an extra 16 years of experience to be able to do it over some spotty sprog civilian? What do those extra 16 years bring to the party and what are we willing to lose to get a SO1 Commander at 30 or 31?

My Grandfather Commanded his 2nd ship, as a new Cdr, at 32 - he wasn't great, but that's what we did in the 60s: why is warfare so much more complex nowadays that my Career Manager recommends that I don't hold out for a Cdr Command until I'm 40?[/QUOTE

If you're being told by your CM not to hold out for Comd until you're 40 then, unless the RN is dramatically different to the Army, you're off the mark already and he's being polite. You'd probably be hoofed out under an "up or out at 45" policy.
I don't know which Army you're in but having sat as an MA to an Army 2* and looked across all OJAR ranges I can tell you 40 for Lt Col is pretty much the norm, but I do accept the Army take some much earlier and appears to almost give away Colonel in some Corps, in comparison to the Navy.

What ATG describes is the current situation and has been caused by a number of factors. In most branches the average age to reach SO1 is 42, Warfare Officers have the most latitude and seem to be selected normally from 36 upwards. They do this with a degree of risk to try and grow a pool of "3" types that can compete across MoD, we don't have the same requirement across all specialisation's hence we can pick at later ages as these people will invariably not be ran for 1* or upwards posts.

I might disagree with ATGs point about ACSC. Its conducted at that age/rank point because up till then most Officers will have operated in mainly single service framework, might have had some joint of a few MoD posts but ACSC is meant to prepare them for jobs of up to 1*, giving them a better understanding of the Joint arena and how MoD and Government is meant to work. That'd be nugatory for many if delivered earlier.

I can see the 45 and out policy working in some areas and not others. Logs, Med, IS, perhaps INT? might benefit from having people who have a developed experience and insight into MoD practise. Warfare/Infantry is a tough one - we use a lot of passed over PWOs (and there are a lot of them) in policy, training and procurement roles where they put their experience to good use - how do we fill that under this policy? Recruit them as contractors?

I can't see how the MoD would work in this way, without giving it a lot of thought, but it seems to me we'd not change our model too much but we'd simply recruit a lot of the >45s as TS or MSF in some form.
 

A2_Matelot

LE
Book Reviewer
#16
Until the last 2 CO Designates Course, the average age of a CO of a FF/DD was 40.3 on assuming Command. A friend of mine was selected at 35 for Command, they then delayed his assignment until 37 because 'they' didn't want him to have it 'too soon'.
I can guess which they are, one just taken up his T45 (can't remember his first name) and one a T23 (Tim)?

I know one quite well and one not so, and not referring to them directly but about 3 years ago we had the same issue. It transpires that the individual then was selected by the board for promotion and SASBd but when PORFLOT looked at him in the cold light of day he was quite green, inexperienced apart from a set of niche RN roles that he's been squeezed through quickly to make him promotable early and it was decided he needed some form of broadening.......and some time to take the venom out him.
 
#17
I think if industry took graduates on at 20, spent a fortune training them, moulded them how they wanted them, and then at 45, threw them out to pasture, the world would be in a very sorry state.

I know some of the "older" officers are crusty old farts but the modern officer has more than likely seen several tours, has direct experience of fighting and it is vital to keep that experience in the system so that it can be fed down the ranks.
 
#18
Why not? The structure and prospects within the Army are changing considerably, again. From when I joined, 2*s were commonplace and these positions must have been downgraded rank-wise 2 notches. Whether one can accumulate enough experience quickly enough is open to question. However, in the face of reduced prospects for anybody considering joining, it might provide enough of an inducement for the Army to still attract some of the best that Britain has.
 
#19
The worry I see is that if the Officer career path is cut short at 45 then the tempation to post officers more often will go up. Given a constant refrain of Project mismanagement is the high turn over of staff at Management levels then how will this help to cut the cost of projects with almost constant changes imposed by people eager to get a good CR in 2 years and don't worry about afterwards....
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#20
If pips and gongs don't do the trick
To get young chaps to take the shilling
Still less to get those in to stick
Then up the pay to make them willing.
 

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