Sorry, I'm Not a Technical Officer.....

B_M et al,

I have followed this thread for a while without piping up, and it's time rectify that.

There are, to my mind, four good reasons why we cannot attract the 'right kind' of grad.

How many ex corps officers are currently comds of fighting formations?  Being able to gain a senior position in DCSA, or in comd of a sig bde, in about 25 years time is not tasty enough bait for bright young eng students.

We don't try to recruit them.  I have been to numerous techy/comms/IT type expos over the years.  At most of the UK based events the RAF have an info/recruiting stand as do the Navy.  Have any of you ever seen a corps or army equivalent?

Nobody knows who we are.  The paras and baywatch are constantly in the news, standing in front of a tented technological complex in which all the scalies are hiding.  The para gets the tan and the publicity and we get the blame for Arnhem.

Our DE commissioning from the ranks is abysmal.  We all know loads of our troops who would make excellent officers and already have a good grounding in their subject.  Our soldiers are as good as most other corps' YOs, and we should look to them to provide the raw material.  Read the other corps' boards and you will see ours is one of very few containing reasoned discussion.

Oh well, time to stop ranting.
We have a few CIS/Eng degrees in my Sqn, never mind the Regt.  A couple of the Offrs have degrees in IT while the IS Ops might have an Exchange Server or Cisco course under their belt.  How ironic.

There have been mega-geeks who like to interfere though.  Thank gawd for early postings. :)


Say what you want and believe me I've heard it all before, but when the rain is horizontal, and the wind is blowing hard, it's 0300 and in the Balkans AGAIN and you've just been out doing a pole crossing, the techie offrs will be all be snug and warm back at Blandford while the non techie bothered his ass to get you brews and see you in - fact is boys, you need us.

By the way, why do you think we have those redoubtable old Foremen and TOTs?

Twisted Pongo
Their technical understanding of what??  Flower arranging??

R-T its all very well letting the ORs get on with all the technical stuff, but when you're sat in a HQ in a technical staff appointment without a fellow bleep in sight to get on with the technical stuff, it can lead to a rather embarrassing end....look at the Armys' track record in procurement...
ah yes procurement
that would be those at MoD Abbey Wood who seem to have no idea about anything technical

lets spend billions on a system that only partly works
install it (poorly)
have no maintenance contract
and let it sit unused for a year before trying to sort it out
then just give up on it and bin it and spend millions on something else that works off the shelf !!  ???

or those who sit in offices at Blandford who are not even Signals cap badges and advise us techs in the Signals on our best career path and why we should not be leaving either the corps or the Army full stop.

get a grip
before trying to talk technical to me at least look at the subject matter first and don't ask why i don't want to be a YofS !!  :mad: :x

not sure which is worse
no knowledge or a little knowledge

for those of you who know nothing but would like to learn before you preach to me then i have a site you may wish to look at

the IS Ops might even find it of use.
A few points to add to this thread.

1. The adage 'the Army is run by the armr/inf for the armr/inf" is true as the self perpetuating selection for promotion, staff college, black/grey, weapons/straight will continue to select the 'best' for the top jobs as they are not technical while the technical officer, because he is in short supply (see the Corps deficit in majors), will always be taken first to fill the technical job.

2. The Corps has felt that it was not getting its fair share of the non-technical jobs and had one DIS course without any signallers - result was no technical R SIGNALS officers to fill black bag E1 posts!

3. The Corps differs from the rest of the Army in that we have a far greater diversity of equipment and systems than the others. It is therefore difficult for an officer to be an expert on all of them - but I wholeheartedly believe that every officer should have a basic grounding and understanding of the fundamental technology and the capabilty it delivers to the Army.

4. Having taught in Blandford and seen the lack of technical ability in young officers, and their unwillingness to embrace even the simpler aspects of radio propogation or data communications I am filled with dread at the Corps potential downfall with the roll out of BOWMAN, FALCON, CORMORANT not to mention DII, NEC et al where there will be a need to make fast decisions in response to the tactical plan to deliver information services - the YofS/FofS can remain the principal executor and detailed planner, but the officer must be the one who generates the plan through rapid reasoned analysis. After all if the other arms and services can construct plans on the back of a fag packet at the birdttable then so must we - there will be no time for extended consultation with the 'technical experts of YofS/FofS'.

5. Technical knowledge is vital - how else can you fault find when the GOC is grinding his teeth when he cannot talk to his Bde Comds. An officer with no understanding cannot give an accurate estimate of when the problem willbe recitfied or give a layman's description of why there are problems. We are poor at self-projection to the gneral staff - when I explained how Ptarmigan works to a teeth arm officer he was amazed that we got it working at all and was mcuh mor understanding when a conference call was lost.

6. There is a balance to be struck between knowing enough to plan & fault-find and operation of equipment. I agree that the officer should not have touched the CSSH and he himself did not understand the limits of his own knowledge - hopefully the incident served as education.

7. Defence as a whole is facing a very difficult and challenging period - the future of the Corps is either very bleak or brighter than ever. It will depend upon the change in culture amongst the gneral staff that information and communications is the lifeblood of the forces and they need to bloody well listen when advice is given on planning assumptions, coherence issues in procurement and during the planning cycle in the Div battle rhythm.

I have rambled on enough - my conculsion we need technically capable officers who are able to advice, plan, fault find and justify themselves to the general staff coupled with the universal leadership and administrative skills that are expected of every officer. We do not need geeks who deal with installation of equipment.

P.S. DInfo (A) and DLD are combining to become DCBM(A) and there is intent to flex muscles. SOinC(A) needs to engage closely and not just on the HR front.
I must confess that I have used the dreaded phrase "I'm not a technical Officer" on a couple of occasions. Obviously not when the Bde Comd/GOC is asking questions. As alluded to earlier, that is when the old "I don't know but I shall go and find out and get back to you" comes in handy.

However, there is clearly a balance to be struck between leadership/man management and technical knowledge. The Corps has given me plenty of hands-on experience of leadership/man-management and I would like to think I can do a half-way decent job in this area. There has been precious little in the technical field though. Whilst, exposure to equipment and working practises in the field army is the best way to learn, this should surely come only after formal training. It is not unfair to say that the only formal training that I have received from the Corps was on my troop commanders course and that was seven/eight years ago. Whilst I could still put together a radio network, plan a ptarmigan deployment and possibly even cold start a switch, things have moved on ever so slightly in the IT field. I return to a field army unit shortly and will by necessity be forced to rely heavily on the Tfc, TOT, YofS, FofS, et al.

So what training should the Corps be offering to ensure that those in my position are best able to serve the wider army and our soldiers? I would love to know. The easy answer is to say that all Officers should be technically qualified upon entry - however I was at uni 10 years ago and the pace of development in our chosen area would render most technical info redundant after such a gap. I do realise that attracting those with a technical bent merely ensures that they are capable of understanding complex ideas that can be developed through further training.

Of the nearly 20 Officers on my TC Cse only three had a BEng or BSc (only one of whom is still serving). Are the rest of us simply to be ignored, because if so then the Corps will simply compound the problems it currently face in the shortfall of qualified majors in the not-too-distant future. I am still unclear what the cunning plan is for the generation (senior Capt/junior Maj) going through at the moment and who miss out on the current system of residential masters. Because I did a non-technical degree it is unlikely that I will be offered a slot on the tail end of this sytem. This means I will have to take my chances out there against the rest of the greater unwashed in non-technical fields. So be it, but the Corps has to invest now to get a return in the future.

I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments earlier in this thread that our officers must be capable of stringing a few words together (without bluffing). However, even those who come to the Corps "qualified" must be given refresher training in the fast moving world of telecommunications.

I standby for the flak!
the way i see it is that you should be trying to keep as up to date as you can off your own back by reading the relevant trade journals
if we can manage it as ORs then why can't the Offs?
Cack answer to a serious point. I can't believe that is the answer for Officers or Soldiers, otherwise after initial training we wouldn't bother with any further education/training. Class 2-1 cse? Don't bother with that, here's a "journal" about it.

If the Corps recognises that our soldiers require formal re-training and upgrading as they progress through their careers, why isn't it the same for Officers. Radical idea - link promotion to technical proficiency even for us Rodneys.

Now I really standby for the flak from my own quarter!


I completely agree Bagpuss; there is no point trying to clone the ideal Royal Signals officer. Everybody has their differences and their strengths and weaknesses however surely all officers should have a level of competancy/knowledge of the technical stuff; just as long as any courses/exams are relevant, progressive as technology moves forward and finally organised properly.

If you disagree with this point then I am interested to hear just what is your reasoning for not having any professional development; be it formal qualifications or not.
Bagpuss said:
Cack answer to a serious point. I can't believe that is the answer for Officers or Soldiers, otherwise after initial training we wouldn't bother with any further education/training. Class 2-1 cse? Don't bother with that, here's a "journal" about it.

If the Corps recognises that our soldiers require formal re-training and upgrading as they progress through their careers, why isn't it the same for Officers. Radical idea - link promotion to technical proficiency even for us Rodneys.
but if you ever thought that up grading at Blandford was worth while you are mistaken
its a case of learn module, pass exam, forget module, learn next module, etc
they teach very little that is of much use in the day to day work of your average tom
I have picked up loads of quals during my time in the mob, some recognised outside, but many not though the theory learned has wider uses which is nice, learnt far more from these courses out side of Blandford than i ever learnt at RSS
and having seen the quality of the class 3 tradesmen they are turning out i shudder to think what state the corps will be in in a few years :?
I'm not saying that reading a journal will ever replace decent training, but it may help you stay up to date with the outside world, even though the Corps is lagging behind in many areas
and yes Radical idea - link promotion to technical proficiency even for you Rodneys

IS Ski Geek

War Hero
Have to agree with 749 there. For the vast majority of upgrading courses held at Blandford. They either hold no valid content to what is happening out in the field army or it has arrived 4 years at least to late. The people on the courses spend about 3 months sucking eggs. We have the TDT teams there which is a great idea, but the majority of the time it takes to get the changes through the systems it ends up being too late and dated.

So to say that getting training throughout their career helps. Then only if the material is off a good enough standard.
IS Ski Geek said:
For the vast majority of upgrading courses held at Blandford. They either hold no valid content to what is happening out in the field army or it has arrived 4 years at least to late. The people on the courses spend about 3 months sucking eggs.
Agreement here too! I did my RR upgrader cse a couple of years back. On it we were not refreshed/taught on the 3.5 kva Gene as they said it was out of service. Hang on a sec- every RRI i see still has them! But we were instructed on the 4.5, which was replaced by the 7 kw nearly 2 years previous albeit the odd SCRA (C).
At the beginning of the cse we were given an intensive 4 week CIS package. For f***s sake i'm a Relay Op!! Why on earth do i need to understand CSMA CD and routing to name but a few?!!!


gijoe said:
The non-technical officer that sparked this thread off has just been posted to DInfo(A) - how scary ?? ???

Speaking to an SO1 from DInfo(A), he remarked that said officer had been especially picked because of their technical understanding and HR experience... ??? (my emphasis)

That makes DInfo(A) somewhere else I don't want to be posted to then.... 8)
Me ? I've got a CV to write.. ;)
Apparently after she was posted from RMAS at least one OCdt who had been under her command at RMAS received a letter from Commandant RMAS apologizing for the way that they had been treated, and expressing the hope that they would understand that '...obviously this apology had to wait until the officer in question had left RMAS...'.

Now that would be an interesting post if you could get your hands on a copy of aforementoned letter... but make sure personal details are erradicated so that the letter could have been about anyone, from anyone, to anyone but all that have followed this thread will know what it is about :wink:

The Corps absolutely stuffed itself (again???) when it chose the wrong officer for the job and sent subject officer to RMAS. Said officer did JCSC before starting at RMAS and not halfway through - believe me I had the pleasure of being very nearby during the experience that was JCSC and the IPSE. Evil Edna (if you know then you'll know who this is :D ) would have been much better at the RMAS job!

All of a sudden this thread is starting to look interesting again.

:) Me? I've avoided a posting to DInfo(A) but am still working on my CV to perfectly encapsulate my technical degrees and experience.. :p
Evil Edna! Good One! God I'm about to take the piss something rotten. And you're right - she would have been much better.
I seriously doubt the Corps ability to recruit quality Officers with more relevant degrees from RMAS - probably hampered even more by the fact it would appear that the Corps "shop window" and main ambassador at RMAS has gone down like a fart in a lift :!:

Is this not the sort of job that should be going to the cream of Corps :!:

Is there some sort of selection process or grooming prior to the job or was the recent unssuccesful (allegedly) incumbent a sort of PC gesture to have a chick in there :?:

Top Move :!:


War Hero

In lieu of Bow_Man, and as one of your fellow Corps members (not to mention being a moderator) I must urge caution and warn you regarding the inferences you have made regarding this character. This thread is close to being cut!

As for the selection criteria for a posting to the RMAS, the officer selected must have come top of the respective board. This is the policy of R SIGNALS MCM Div.

If any of you (especially those commisioned ranks) continue to slander this specific individual then this thread will be dropped.

Now, back to the debate...


and yes Radical idea - link promotion to technical proficiency even for you Rodneys
'Rodneys' as you so ineloquently put, are not employed for their technical proficiency, rather for their leadership capabilities. That said, the inability of an office to understand even the basic principles of engineering communications should not persist. If any of you feel like changing the Corps policy on the issue, then feel free to become SOinC, otherwise hush!
Most interesting is that this thread was not even started with any particular person in mind. The fact that quite a large majority have focussed in on one individual is interesting ... but only because the aforementioned phrase is commonly used by many R SIGNALS offrs as an excuse for a lack of professional expertise.

An Engineer Officer always knows how to cross a gap, create a gap, blow something up or build a bar, An Arty Officer always knows the range of his support weapons, why is it that a lot of R SIGNALS officers can't even explain bandwidth to a non technical type in words that he or she will understand? Answers on a postcard to the usual address. And to emphasise the words of CGS forget the personal attacks ... its very undignified.

I agree with you that an officer must be an expert in his profession, and yes.. an R SIGNALS offr must be able to explain bandwidth et al.

I have to say that most of the R SIGNALS offrs I have come across have no difficulty explaining to non R SIGNALS types technical expressions. Though I have noticed that when offrs of the same cap badge get together it is considered the norm to steer away from any technical expressions for fear I presume, of getting the wording not exactly right.

To comment on other posts:

or those who sit in offices at Blandford who are not even Signals cap badges and advise us techs in the Signals on our best career path
Not true... if it is happening then he/she must be politley told and I am sure you know how to feed this in. Career advice must be given by the same cap badge. Being non R SIGNALS and having sat in an office in Blandford .. I know !

ADC - excellent post and all are very valid points. Fingers crossed for the future !
Bow_Man, you mentioned this earlier on in this thread - "And I also agree that as an Ops Officer invariably you cannot be expected to know off pat every single bit of information there is to know about all aspects of communications (thats why we have Ops Teams with varied experience and areas of expertise... and believe me when briefing formation commanders I always had the YofS and FofS nearby)"

I trust that your "Ops Team" now has a SUPVR (IS) in there somewhere ? Or are you like the rest of the corps and dont give a flying f*** as you think they are just geeks who have no right to be in any planning or management positions except "geeky" things !

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