Standards slipping?

Discussion in 'Gunners' started by django_strikes, May 20, 2011.

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  1. While I don't consider myself to be long in the tooth (over 10 years as an RA Officer), neither do I view myself as a crow bag, so I felt I would ask the question:

    Do people think that officer's standards are slipping?

    By which I mean how they behave, what they expect to do at RD etc.

    I have heard quite a few new(ish) officers wandering around recently with no grasp of the "dull" background stuff that need to be carried out at RD (Mess Committees, standards of behaviour and etiquette, functions, others), as they have been pretty much thrashed by the Op tempo for the 2/3/4 even 5 years that they have served. If not on ops, they were training for ops or on the usual training rotation.

    In a way, I don't blame the Officers concerned - they know no different - and I can't blame "the system", as it is there to prepare these guys for a job (ops), but is it a bad (or sad) thing that some of the traditions of the Gunners (yes, mostly Officer Corps specific, but some WO & SNCOs I have spoken to recently see the same in their mess) are looking to die out as people don't have the time or patience, or see the need to do these things?

    Or am I just a stuffy, crusty old bloke (I hope not) who has finally realised that my time within the RD confines of the Horse have finally rubbed off and I am now sufficiently senior of service to rustle my Telegraph and harrumph the NIG Officers of today - I am sure it was different when I was that NIG Officer though!

    Thoughts, abuse, right royal ribbings and opinions all interestingly received.
  2. Brotherton Lad

    Brotherton Lad LE Reviewer

    I reckon it's largely a sign of growing old, though the operational tempo will be a factor.

    I remember how really chuffed we were as subbies when our new 'trendy' CO said he was happy for his officers to wear jeans off duty "so long as they had well-ironed creases". I still wear the old 501s occasionally, still with creases, they'll be all the rage again any day soon.

    Mind you, in those days, the graduates at Sandhurst were banished to the wrong side of the Wish Stream and their pass out parade was on the Victory College car park. So, some things have got better. I hear they even have females there now.
  3. I suspect the last vestiges of the cold war era (with BFG seeming to be as the last outpost of the empire in mess' in my humble opinion) are finally going, being dealt the death blow with the current op tempo and the younger generation thinking there are better things to do than accept traditions that do not seem relevant to this day and age and their service.

    Time and change catches up with us all. The only thing we can hope is that the changes are made wisely and things do not change for changes sake but because there are better ways of doing them, more relevant to expectation and experience in the 21st century.
  4. According to a letter written by the DRA, the standards in the RA are slipping across the board, particularly with regard to dress.

    Although I am considered as "bolt action" by my peers (I wear twisters, have my capbadge above my left eye, sideburns at the middle of my ear, am rather fond of the "five minutes before" rule and have even been known to use boot polish and brushes!), I do feel that we should be concentrating on the ability of our blokes as SMEs in the joint fires world (I am of a targetting background) before we harrass the blokes about their minor dress misdemeanours.

    If I was a MAC, I would rather my FSI/FSE/FST was confident and competent in their job, than turned out like Guardsmen. I understand there needs to be a standard of dress, otherwise we'd all look chippy, but it tends to be those of little frontline/combat experience that hold the dress regulations so close to their heart's, and perhaps long for the days when there was very little to do for young Gunners apart from iron their kit and polish their boots.

    I am by no means disagreeing with the DRA's objectives, and one could argue that if you look after the pennies (sideburns, twisters etc) then the pounds (training, knowledge, experience) will look after themselves, but I would personally rather see the pounds focused upon and then perhaps the lads will have the pride and the professionalism to look after their own pennies without the nagging.

    I await your incoming.
  5. LancePrivateJones

    LancePrivateJones LE Book Reviewer

    Are you saluting properly as in 'really properly'?

    If you are stop now.

    Historically RA officers salute back in a manner resembling Ernie, the eponymous fastest milkman in the west as portrayed by that Benny Hill.

    I have written about this phenomenon elsewhere amongst these fora/forums but I am too pissed to find the link at the mo.

    As a former serving member of Her Majesty's Glorious Royal Regiment I am inclined to agree with you that standards do indeed appear to have slipped and I am ******* appalled.

    I thought they would have taught you about the speshul 'Salute' at YO's and I am disturbed that you seem unaware.

    It was a great morale booster to us cheeky nigs.

    Get a grip.
  6. Fortunately, I don't have a commission so my salutes are still resembling those of the drill manual! :D
  7. They are slipping but obviously ops have to come first.

    There is a need to maintain the old ways and there should be a custodian of the standards - the crown club and Adjt maybe.

    As for the DRA's new policy, ideal and needed but not at the detriment of operational effectiveness. I do think this being addressed.

  8. udipur

    udipur LE Book Reviewer

    I remember running a range in the mid '90s. On the three firing points were an infantry armoured mob, gearing up for deployment to Bos, the cav bunch who lived there and were doing their annual firing who hadn't been on tour for three years and weren't in the running to do so for another two and 'them' on the third.

    Interesting approach from all three as they all followed safety procedures properly so the danger was minimised.

    Them spent the time bolting and unbolting weapon systems on their wagons and blasting away. Occasionally missed, too. Fun to watch just to bet on what the next weapon they would be using.

    The inf lot bustled up, got on with their range package, passed the standards and finished.

    The cav lot took a jolly long time making sure that all their wagons were in a neat line, the pennants were flying correctly and there was a fair bit of drill on the firing point - you know the score, grown men shouting at each other to tell the other that what is blindingly obvious and in front of them has just happened.

    At the time it got me thinking that a lot of the annoying stuff we had to go through (which muppet ever thought up the phrase "drill is brill"?) was all about discipline and instilling instinctual reactions within. Therefore if push came to shove, we could respond instantly. However, all the boys and girls these days are getting real experience and the training has to be less 'BS', more experiential.

    A lot of the RD is about traditions created for so called exclusivity but a lot is about courtesy. However, if you have to enforce politeness onto your brother officers, maybe you might think about recruiting them elsewhere?

    Not being a gunner, I couldn't possibly opine about drop shorts and their standards but I was bored this morning...
  9. msr

    msr LE

    I am sure the standards have been slipping since Pontius was a Pilot (/Pilate).

    "Officers are reminded that after duties Friday means after lunch Thursday and not after tea Wednesday." (Anon Infantry Adjutant circa 1968)

    Yours crustily,

  10. Standards my arse, a few months maybe a year ago a Neatte Ending piece in gunner showed a group of officers at the end of WW 2 on a course at the school, everyone in different dress a couple smoking one in a leather flying jacket, another pipe in mouth, and that was a course photo. May have been they had just come to the end of 6 years of Ops, they were doing the job, seems the bullshit I had a a NIG seem unimportant really.

    Standards = doing an excellent job
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  11. One problem with constantly doing as your told, doing drills and not thinking for yourself though, is that when the youngsters get into their first TIC, they might just sit there waiting to be told to shoot back (as has happened!).

    For an Army that has a doctrine of putting JNCOs in command of their own fire fights and positions of great responsibility and pressure, for the Gunners/Privates etc it is very much a case of "mind your own business and wait to be told further". You may notice this on junior command courses when the young man/lady in the command appointment takes his section through the river on the left flank simply because that was what they were made to do in basic!

    If I was to ever be a senior instructor on a cadre course I'd rather have it focused more on tactics, battlefield awareness and "why" things are done aswell as "how", instead of inspections, drill and other general thrashings because they weren't 5 minutes before the 5 minutes!

    But that's just me :)

    It is also worth mentioning that it has been said by several of my colleagues that they can't wait for the junior officers of the current generation (who have used their fair share of wag bags and solar showers on HERRICK) to move up the food chain in order to replace some of the crusties that have spent too far away from the field Army! ;)
  12. udipur

    udipur LE Book Reviewer

    I remember an evening at the Sjts' mess when we were commemorating a past VC winner. We had a platoon commander from the same company and the Sjt who was running the winner's platoon.

    They were fascinating about us all 'fighting the last war' since they were in it and invaded France.

    Seems that all this fancy, schmancy diamond, arrowhead, blob etc stuff that was crammed down our throats was little more than useless. They advanced pretty much in a line and didn't do left or right flanking assaults as next to them was another company/battalion/brigade etc all engaged in the worthy pursuit of ridding Europe of Cpl Shickelgrubber.

    Training people to think on their feet and be adaptable is one of the hardest things any DS can attempt. At the moment, they are learning the hardest way possible and I agree, we should see a very different army for a while. However, don't forget that as soon as the action is over, the admin wallahs sneak out of the woodwork and the people who are the fighters frankly can't be bothered with all that guff and leave.
  13. I agree entirely that Ops must come first, but at the expense of degenerating in to a complete rabble when not there, barely bothering to come to work, not knowing about "all that REMF SH*T" like MS, standards, values, etc, as it is "pointless and not ops focussed"?

    Yes - train to do the job and do it well. not just drills to make individuals into machines, that's not how we do business, but I would argue that it wouldn't be much of an army if we just view ouurselves all as that stereotypical soldier - brilliant in the field and on ops, but **** in barraks, ill disciplined, etc and never going to promote.

    If the current crop of junior officers continue through their early career not needing to know about tradition, standards and the like, arguably not necessary, but to what extent, then where will we be when they reach command and all want to be growing lamb chop sideburns, wear their ally trops and non-issue boots and dismiss everything not ops focussed as irrelevant and there is no time for it.

    I'm not just talking about having your kit ironed, lining up vehicles, **** stuff for the non-warfighters to get involved with and do it well due to a suprlus of time, I mean the broader ethos we (well certainly I - and as I said originally, I hardly consider myself a crusty) have experienced time immemorium.
  14. Whilst I have no problem with the RA wishing to uphold it's own standards, could you please educate WOs1 at Larkhill that a) different parts of the Armed Services exist and b) we have differing dress standards. The one I interacted with was a little surprised to get a volley back down the bearing over the issue of sideburn length.

    On topic, I saw the same letter on my trip to your home, and whilst it was a little clumsy, his intent was in the right place (by my reckoning). I think you could tie in with the thread on the R Signals page about standards in Bastion - there are times and places for un-tucked trousers and 3 days growth on your chin, Larkhill or any other major camp are not one of them.
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  15. Not that sideburn length particularly bothers me, the frequent reminder (with pictures) on orders were, I thought, drawn from QRs, not RA Dress Regs. So everyone should be half way up the ear...I hear what you're saying though and can well imagine some getting overly excited by it. Wasn't it also in a letter from CGS (previous)?