Sandhurst chief says army needs character not university degrees

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Chimp, Aug 15, 2017.

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  1. Because it was a way of keeping the kids busy until Daddy wanted to retire... also as a great way to network if you couldn't afford Eton, and possibly a cheap and helpful quality filter to weed out those of ineffective social skills and poor character (or at least those who would get caught).

    According to a solicitor friend, legal firms in Edinburgh during the 1970s and 1980s saw a Territorial commission in much the same way (i.e. the perception that holding a Reserve commission was a distinct advantage towards becoming a Partner). The senior partners had done their National Service, and in its absence they could outsource practical low-level leadership training of their younger trainees to the TA. Walking into the Volunteer Officers' Ball in the early 90s was like a meeting of the Writers to the Signet (or Surgeons' College)...
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  2. A bit like OR's then, in my day you could be weeded out at 9 years / 12 years / etc Some made it to 22 years then out, very few made it to LSL with less than 200 posts

    It was only the Officer Corp that have the option of a 35 year career

  3. I think this makes a lot of sense, after you've actually scoped the problem and quantified the requirement.

    The American 'Warrant Officer' system might work if you actually needed to put them in uniform. Plus what used to be called the 'Vicars and Tarts Course' at RMAS. Even give them their own cap badge (like the padres) so that nobody is in doubt about their (lack of) military skills. The Queen's Royal Nerds Corps' springs to mind...

    ...but I still wonder if such a niche solution actually addresses the underlying demographic problem?

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  4. Caecilius

    Caecilius LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Still more or less the case although the LSL isn't limited as far as I'm aware. ORs finish at 22 unless they extend which usually finishes at 24 or so. It all changes if they make it to LE though - I think that can allow a much longer extension.
  5. Some interesting chaps certainly, one a certain ex Regular whose family went back pre 1715 and a current Clan chief who whilst at Staff College set up a kite flying club, a TA Cameronian who got a star and a Partnership - rather think his son is following hard on his heels!
    And one who helped me with an officer's CM back in 83 who was an ex Gordon and then a TA Major.
    They were great in Defence as they knew the system and could run rings round the Army Legal Services.
  6. This is a good analogy to the "cyber" issue (much like the Medical profession). A partner in a mid-sized law firm can earn rather more than CDS - so if you're good at Law, and reasonably confident in your skills, why would you join Army Legal Services? And if you decide to leave ALS and the Army after a few years, exactly how much relevant experience will you be able to claim on a civilian CV?

    A TA colleague did a CM once as defence, in his civilian role - wore his Regimental tie just to confuse the opposition, then took them apart...

    ...of course, there's the delights of the UK regard for professional engineers; lawyers wear suits to work, so the ignorati can't just belittle them as "law nerds"...
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  7. When we look at lateral entry into the Army we always tend to think at the top end - the law firm partners earning £200k, the COOs and large engineering project directors earning the same. There are many very good contract lawyers, human rights lawyers, engineering project schedulers, technology specialists, cyber security people and regional intelligence experts earning £50k-80k who may be interested in a career change into the army, if the terms and (more importantly) conditions were equitable. If the aim is to replace non-specialist SO2s and SO1s with people with technical depth who are happy to stay in the same role for 3-5 years then I think it should be possible.

    What is most likely to put people off is having to wear a uniform, being subjected to the frankly often bizarre way the army operates and being treated like a second-class citizen (I imagine lateral entry people would be viewed as a cross between MOD CS and a Reservist by the regulars). Hence why I think that a separate executive agency of the MOD would make more sense. Also lots of top-down cultural change would be critical.
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  8. I rather suspect that the greater disincentive is the reduced amount of workable career experience, given the rather small scale of UK Armed Forces. Consider why Army Medical Services closed the military hospitals, and folded them into the NHS hospitals.

    I'm a Chartered Engineer - yes, I would love to earn a tasty wage for a year or three, but how employable would it make me? Would I be working on cool, challenging projects at the cutting edge of technology, earning more patents, developing my professional skills? Or banging my head against customer requirements written with the wisdom and (never more than two years') experience that comes after 30 weeks' study at Shrivenham, working on an incompetently-built and underpowered infrastructure, equipped with decade-old tools, and reporting to someone who thinks that an Arts degree, RMAS, and a confident tone are all that an engineering manager needs?

    I rather suspect that the best bet for key technical skills is not to attempt to create a Defence Agency "comfy existence doing small jobs around the house", but to use the Reserves sensibly. It works for the Medics, and will hopefully work for Cyber.
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  9. The whole concept of lateral recruitment is then naive idea of peope who have never actually needed to hire professionals. There isn't a pool of quality, qualified and experienced professionals waiting to junk their existing careers, move house to Andover, Bulforf et al and work in what is a pretty unattractive environment. The Army would be competing with every other employer just like it has to now. The percentage of people who make massive mid-life career changes is small; most move to adjacent organisations.

    Next, why on earth would someone with expertise and competence who, in business, would have a significant degree of autonomy, want to loose that autonomy?

    A significant element of operating successfully in any large organisation is understanding the governance. So, if you bring in experts from outside, you still need people with a deep understanding of the corporate ethos to manage or at least guide them. Just look at how little cross-fertilisation and lateral recruitment there is between other public sector bodies Almost none.

    Get the right peope in at the start. Offer them a far more diverse development program and career path. Look very hard at officer education; is a universal 30 week ICSC really the right thing? And properly track and value skills.

    And make far better use of the Reserve. There are beacons of sense there, but we have thrown away some really valuable niche expertise.

    Finally look hard at the pool of former officers in which you have invested already. Actively keep a track on them and what they are doing and recognise the skills they are gaining. Then suck them back.
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  10. Pretty much.
    Let's face it, those of arrse who got out of the green machine, and applied themselves in civ div to make a few bob, won't be advising the fruits of their loins to join up to get effed about.
    Not until they see a few ills cured anyhow.
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  11. 100% in agreement with both the above points. As a regular who then became a STAB and then a civvie, I saw this from all sides.

    As a regular involved in training a TA unit, we tended to think of the STABs as people who were kept in a lead-lined box and who only trained at weekends, and hence as rather mediocre soldiers.

    Then later as a STAB my self I had a rude awakening as I watched regular instructors trying to teach chartered engineers how to dig deep holes and shore up buildings: worse by far was hearing an instructor at the Defence EOD School tell a class "well of course you don't have to be rocket scientists to do this" when he was put down by a very fetching young female TA officer - "Well actually Q, I AM a rocket scientist". (She worked for what became QinetiQ).

    We should have worked a lot harder at bringing those skills in...

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  12. Watching an RMAS CSgt teaching SAA to a PQO course was also mildly amusing. 'Can anyone explain the breathing cycle?' says CSgt X, cue one of the several Dr's in the Sect providing a perfect medical description lasting about 90 secs which did not provide the phrase, 'natural pause' that CSgt X was looking for. Know your audience and all that.
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  13. Watching a Regular instructor on a TA SF cadre use the phrase, "We're none of us nuclear physicists" to be met with a raised hand and an 'erm' from the senior-technician-at-Hunterston-in-real-life was priceless.

    We've gone better than Shaw. We have 'One Army' divided by a common language.
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  14. On JSC(TA), watching the DS explain that "triage is absolutely never about sticking a shitload of morphine in the utterly doomed sods and leaving them out the back of the RAP, honest", while having to tell the Surgeon in our syndicate to be quiet for a minute as his hand went up: "actually..."

    The syndicate also contained the civvy admin officer for the course in her TA guise, and a Flying Squad D/Sgt. Fun :)
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2017
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  15. There was a proposal for precisely this in the commissioned warrant officer thread around technical specialists.