TA Gunner Officer: a cunning plan, I think.

Discussion in 'Army Reserve' started by barbarasson, Apr 10, 2007.

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  1. Being a TA Gunner officer is, to be frank, in many ways crap.

    Due to the increasing Defence Writing fascism, reporting and mtd-cutting all seniors are suffering somewhat (I would suggest). However, there was always the carrot of command and professional development to make it all worthwhile. Where is this now? Officers in many disciplines are being told they will never deploy in role, and courses are being cut for Gunner officers. So, how are we Gunner officers at all?

    However, I have an idea, which I believe will be an economical way of regaining identity for Gunner Officers, to improve retention and importantly to prepare officers and seniors for the roles they have been told they will fill when mobilised (watchkeepers etc). My plan is to have TA-wide courses camps for Officers.

    As most regimental camps are courses camps it would not effect soldiers for only a limited number of officers to be on courses. Moreover the new courses would benefit from economies of scales and would generate high numbers of students, which also improves course quality and enjoyment. Finally and most importantly it would prepare junior officers for the roles they may have to face on operations. Also it would give the opportunity to build Gunner knowledge which is to be frank often missing outside narrow specialisms. There is a worrying subject knowledge gap between junior and 15year-ish served officers who had far more exercises and more hands on roles when they were junior officers.

    The Army needs to make being a TA officer worthwhile. From a Gunner point of view I might suggest that the increasing 'regularisation' of the TA (and this does not mean being anti one army or raising standards) has made being an officer pretty grim, however 2 weeks of quality training from the powers that be in the School (sorry, The Artillery Centre) could rejuvinate the TA-officer cadre, and make us all far more fit for role.
  2. Guns

    Guns LE Moderator Book Reviewer
    1. The Royal Navy

    I know we (Navy) appriciate the NGLO's that come from the RA TA side of life. Very nice chaps and useful as well when doing NGS.
  3. Not having a pop but would like you develop your plan, so I have a few questions for you:

    1. In what way would your plan differ from (or augment) what is already required of TA officers by way of courses (some of which are TA-wide)? (TA Commissioning Course, Special-to-Arm course, Junior Officers' Tactical Awareness Course, etc.)

    2. How would your plan differ from (or augment) what is already available to TA officers to prepare them for operational roles outside their unit-specific ones? (Watchkeeper / Liaison Officer, etc.) (Or are these what you are suggesting should be extended from corps-specific to TA-wide?)

    3. Wasn't the whole point of the new TA officer career plan (the one that requires you to spend six years in each rank from captain upwards) designed to counter the problem that junior officers were not getting enough time leading blokes and were becoming course-chasers instead?
  4. 1) TACC- great course that trains platoon commanders.
    Special to Arm Courses - Do not exist for certain specialisms (General Support), and are being cut, TA FOO course for example.
    JOTAC - To an extent is a leap for officers in some capbadges/units because although the knowledge base of MK1 is there officers neither work at a regimental level nor do they use the info from MK1 in their work.

    2) The courses were (hypothetically) both to give Gunner knowledge across the arms (as TA Gunner YOs don't have this broad base of basic knowledge from a YOs course) and to act to develop skills that will be used on deployment throughout career, rather than focussing on a role in training for years, but then changing focus when it comes to actually deploying.

    3) When I read that document it struck me as trying to explain how we were going to get to Maj-Gen rank, rather than a realistic plan to improve TA officer development. Although it did recognise the need to give officers time commanding as part of their development, my point is that even if it occurs, it is preparing for a role which the CoC are openly stating we will not (in certain cases) deploy in.

    I am not saying that all TA officers should be a great watch-keeping pool. However, there should be a recognition in the training provided as to the roles we are likely to actually use, and also an attempt to give us a Gunner education.

    So some examples might be.
    A general YO's course for 2Lts, even if only a short course of 9 days.
    A CPO's course.
    A Watchkeeper/intro to BG HQ course.
  5. msr

    msr LE

    The reality is that very few (outside FP Coy) TA Offrs will deploy 'in-role' and that may well be a major (no pun intended) reason why TA Officer recruiting has collapsed.

    (Stands by for all those TA Offr who have deployed in role to start snapping)
  6. Well, for a start Bdes should open up their study days to those below the rank of Major, who have actually done JOTAC and need to practise the 7Qs.

    Anyone at 42 Bde listening?
  7. What you have to realise is that we are now in a transitional stage in the latest "big idea" which is that there will somehow eventually be "One Army" with individuals seamlessly moving across a continuum encompassing part-time and full-time service. Once this Nirvana is achieved, all the problems will magically disappear and everyone will perform "in role" when they are full-time thereby training them for the next time they are full-time (voluntary or otherwise).

    Just been warned off for CDT, I may be some time...
  8. Ask them to talk to 49 Bde - everyone is supposed to attend - which sort of means that it's a shame the whole year's worth has been canned to trim the MTD budget...

    For a moment there I thought you'd written 'part-time'...

    ...'in the bottle' not, 'on the bottle', you say, Sarn't Major?
  9. Speaking as one of the '15year-ish served officers who had far more exercises and more hands on roles when they were junior officers' I feel that the experience we gained back in those halcyon days was not the result of going to learn the gospel according to Larkhill but enjoying the challenge and satisfaction of being trained in a role and going out and doing it with our own soldiers and equipment over the period of a camp.

    Unfortunately cuts which affect our access to training areas, ammunition, vehicles, materiel and even the lack of trained personnel to form the collective training groups now prevent us from exercising in this way and providing this experience to YOs.

    This is not a uniquely Gunner problem I am certain. While units in other roles, especially infantry, may find it easier to exercise collectively the restrictions outlined above affect us all. It is not just the ranks of the RA(V) that lack YOs.

    I would agree that quality, focused training needs to be directed at TA officers if they are to be attracted and retained to the job and if they are to prove effective when mobilised. But I do not feel that taking them away from the soldiers they are supposed to command is the right way around it.

    Yes there is a high chance of a watchkeeper post for mobilised TA officers. But the best watchkeepers are not those who have only spent time in the Ops room. They are the ones who have wider experience and so can have an understanding of the situation faced by the commanders on the ground and adjust their actions accordingly.

    In addition, I worry that, if given the opportunity to train TA YOs at Larkhill for a TA camp, the resultant product would not do what you would wish it to. 2 weeks of doctrine in the classroom, kit displays and the obligatory trip to Firepower (anything else would cost money) would be no substitute for 2 weeks of being put under pressure, making decisions and giving orders in an exercise environment.

    I agree in the current climate we're unlikely to get the latter in role so we need to get it elsewhere, like in infantry role exercises. Until there is a fundamental (and unlikely) change in direction this is the way we seem to be going.
  11. I tend to agree with the thread. Here in the Yeomanry, things are very similar to the Gooners (A statement which I never imagined myself making). It would seem that, as officers, we spend our time going on career courses learning things which we will never get to practise but merely achieve an awareness of. I think of CATAC and the different BG roles, and JOTAC and the 7 questions. As officers we are becoming adept in breeding a mass of Staff College/Doctrinal walking dictionaries who may well know the theoretical side but have no concept of practical implementation.

    I think that what I'm getting at, and I've recently finished squadron leading, is that I turned into an admin nazi opposed to the dashing cavalry officer I always aspired to be. The old retention positive (eugh!) weekend regimental exercises have allbut vanished, there are less and less MTDs for the fun sqn exercises and we end up having to look at Yeo Gny Trg stats, CCRF, DDI and a host of other regular army bo**ocks that has been introduced to make us ONE ARMY!

    To have done this for over 20 years (full and part time) and seen the degradation in terms of the 'fun' and other reasons we all originally joined for, I fail to see how the TA is sustainable in the current scenario. Lets all get back to the enjoyment of soldiering and leave specialisation as part of mobilisation training, for those lucky enough to get the chance. It may sound horribly merecenary but I only now stay in as I can get an FTRS job incase I get bored doing what I do in real life. I've had 20 odd years to become this cynical - I find it terribly sad when I hear the same from new subbies.
  12. I couldn't agree more with Blyth Spirit but I would add in the old days TA officers not only got to do more FTXs and field training with their own soldiers, they got to do it with anyone else's too! The regular regiment was under-recruited for junior officers and a heavy training diary meant that they needed lots of subbies, if their own subbies were to be given other sorts of development and training. four or five of usin 101 in the early 80s did so much regular army training that we were asked if perhaps we could do some more TA duties, like ROO et cetera.

    We pointed out that we had all done over 75 days of battery and regimental training and if the Adjutant couldn't nail us down for a duty on one of those days, then he wasn't much of an adjutant? The 2i/c was properly chastised and agreed that it wasn't as if we were jetting off to Canada, Norway, Belize etc. to avoid Queens Cup or Martial Merlin weekends (as we had won both!).

    He cogitated and then suggested that we needed to spend more time on our civilian careers than on the Regular Army or join it. Three months later his well populated for subalterns regiment was dining three out of five out - to RMAS!
  13. Speaking of duties, the orderly officer now has to do a 100% armoury serial check every tuesday. The bullshit scales just keep tipping.
  14. That's been the situation for 2-3 years. I had all my weapons withdrawn to Coy so they could be checked off weekly. A rifle platoon without rifles....

    However, this was when DInf had directed the closing off all Platoon detachments (and lo, that county has no TA Inf now....)
  15. msr

    msr LE

    I think that the figures speak for themselves.

    The 2005 and 2006 figures are the 'paper strength' the real? ones are an estimate of actual attenders.


    I believe that Maj -> Capt -> (2)Lt should be approximately in the ratio of 1:3:9, but will gladly stand corrected.