TA Manning

stab

Old-Salt
#1
It's a hot topic at the moment. Cynics would say that it's only because of the enduring mobilisation requirement and/or that overall TA numbers are on a downward slope.

Either way, the MOD is finally and currently interested in the wide range of issues that affect "manning" of the TA in it's broadest context and appears to want to do something about it.. Now, it would be easy to simply sit back and watch what happens, but it might be better if we were to make a sensible, balanced and constructive contribution to the debate.

We could argue that the current malaise is due to systemic changes in social attitudes. It could be because the level of mobilisation has been excessive. It could be because of the outdated and inadequate terms and conditions. It could be because of poor training, poor administration, inadequate TACs, diluted ethos, below standard leadership and command skills of Officers and SNCOs, or just simpy because it isn't fun anymore.

Inevitably, it's probably a combination of all these and other things, and a mix that differs between TACs, Units, and regions.

However, what do those of you that have some experience of this think? - is your TAC a let down?, are the local management poor or great?, are you properly manned and if not, how long before your critical mass is insufficient for the unit to function properly?. Is your training poor or fab?, is the PSAO innovative and dynamic or just taking full time pay for a part time job?....etc.

Thoughts?
 
#2
I'm not whinging, but...

From my experience you definately need a decent SPSI to make sure things run as they should be.

'Too many chiefs' springs to mind. Most of our time is wasted while we wait for the bods at the 'top' to sort themselves out.

Our TAC is a bag-o-shoite. Old, run down, basic facilities, 1 classroom, difficulty parking & nasty neighbours (slap bang in housing area), small garage. Been promised a brand spanking new one for years now, MOD have bought the land and fenced it off but we all know that it will never happen :evil:
 
#3
Stab - You raised all the negative influencing possibilities about TA manning, it really says it all. It would be more interesting to see the positive influencing possibilities.
 
#4
Stab,

Would you like to open the bidding with your thoughts?

msr
 
#5
Here's some good points... :D

OC - Our present OC is absolutely bob-on. Very keen on training/careers/welfare. Makes a BIG difference to the average turnout.

SPSI - Again, very good. Doesn't have the usual 'i hate the TA' attitude. Has the attitude - "any bloke who is willing to do this on a weekend after working all week is alright in my book". Gets on very well with the lads. Has booked more people on courses in his first four months than the last one did in two years.

Very well trained JNCOs/SNCOs

Last but not least - best mates a bloke could ask for, especially when you've all experienced the sandpit together.
 

stab

Old-Salt
#6
I hadn't intended to be negative, it's just that when you are faced with the reality of TA manning having fallen consistently across the piece for the last four years, it's natural to assume that the effects are negative - it's hardly positive!!.

That said, my own views are that a well recruited TA unit, with some decent momentum and an esprit de corps of note is invariably only present with a dynamic OC or WO2, good environment and an involved and sympathetic PSAO/SPSI (preferably both). There's no such thing as a good Officer without a good SNCO and so perhaps it's the seniors mess that is the most important. There are clearly (and thank G*d always will be) some well recruited units and TACs. That said, the numbers speak for themselves and there are some equally poorly recruited and somewhat indifferent units.

The key is to identify the critical issues and work on them. As for starting the bidding, how about these as some "critical" issues.....

1. High level of leadership and command
2. PSAOs targetted and measured by recruited strength
3. The balance of training to fit agreed proportions - i.e. 30% adventurous training, 30% trade trg, 30% mil skills and 10% drill!.
4. TA regs brought up to date
5. Improved priorty on trg areas

etc....

The opportunity to effect change is upon us - let's not waste it
 
E

error_unknown

Guest
#7
We could argue that the current malaise is due to systemic changes in social attitudes. It could be because the level of mobilisation has been excessive. It could be because of the outdated and inadequate terms and conditions. It could be because of poor training, poor administration, inadequate TACs, diluted ethos, below standard leadership and command skills of Officers and SNCOs, or just simpy because it isn't fun anymore.

Inevitably, it's probably a combination of all these and other things, and a mix that differs between TACs, Units, and regions.

However, what do those of you that have some experience of this think? - is your TAC a let down?, are the local management poor or great?, are you properly manned and if not, how long before your critical mass is insufficient for the unit to function properly?. Is your training poor or fab?, is the PSAO innovative and dynamic or just taking full time pay for a part time job?....etc.
Many points have hit many nails here Stab. IMHO crap terms and conditions, excessive mobilisation with high % of TA soldiers being treated like sh*te, underpaid and having to fight the system for equivalent pay when called up. The call ups have hit the senior soldier/junior commander levels most, and these have suffered, which means there is a dearth of junior NCOs and senior toms to provide decent training and encouragement.

That coupled with the cut backs in MTDs means there is insufficient impetus for JNCOS and SNCOS to plan and conduct decent trg.

Social attitudes have changed, but we don't have trouble getting people in the door. But when they do get in, we tell them be prepared to get called up within 3 years and paid less than their civvy wage, don't expect your family to get much support, don't expect a pension or any compensation when your knees and back are f*cked from years of tabbing. Oh and don't expect to get any free education/cheap loans/society respect like the yanks.

Other than that, STAG ON....
 
#8
From:

http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn/index.p...0&postorder=asc&highlight=recruiting&&start=0

which is worth a flick through as it is mostly on this topic

fas_et_gloria said:
I suspect that the reasons are widespread (in no particular order, just as they occur):

i) There has been a fundamental shift in the expectations of 'our nation's youth' - chorus of 'no really, Sherlock!' The weekend more than ever is a moment of hedonistic abandonment in the course of an otherwise tedious week, and not everyone sees no sleep for 48 hours and sleeping in a ditch [sic] as just the thing.

ii) With what seems like half the population marching 'against the illegal war in (... insert operational theatre here...)' perhaps it ought not to be so surprising that the same old calls to arms are not having the same old response.

...

iv) In spite of (and to some extent perhaps even because of) the heavy media interest with TELIC number X, the TA's profile as a worthwhile endeavour is lower than ever. In the days of home defence bns defending us from third shock army the specific need to promote the 'You need the TA' message was small. The only thing the general population see at the moment is 'the army' - for which read regular army. Fantastic for the one army concept, but utterly defeating for the profile of the TA.
During the last week I met a pair of friends who had been given a lift to the pub by her father, his comments to them on the subject of my TA service on the way had centred around his opinion, as an ex national serviceman, that 'the TA is a waste of investment as the level of training is too low to allow their deployment'. Useful for those who felt the need to play soldier - but nothing more.

v) Could some of the reticence to enlist centre around the sneaking suspicion that it would mean unpensionable service, deployment one year in three, no X-factor... the list goes on and can be found on innumerable threads around here. I don't necessarily agree with all of it - but there is a perception that this is the case - not least amongst those who are already serving.

vi) JSC this [last] summer was full of talk of the re-branding of the TA - the best suggestion which the course could come up with when asked for ideas about a potential new name was, 'Well, there is always Yeomanry and Militia...' smattering of giggles. It cannot be about 're-branding': what we do is a great job, all things considered, what needs to happen is that the public must find out what we do do. The last major coverage the TA had was the Guardian's article about the Londons Coy in Basra (three weeks ago?), great stuff but if a third of the troops in theatre are 'reservists of first choice' why is one third of the media's attention not focussed on them?


I am painfully aware that this is neither the whole picture nor in fact are all of the points strictly true - but the point is that it is perception which is important. Propaganda (and recruiting) being what it is, it is what the people believe which is important.
I got spammed to inspect a (not very) local cadet detachment recently and the cadets where asking questions predicated on the basis that the TA are the equivalent of community service police people who have to phone the 'rozzas if they want to get you arrested...'!

The view of the reserves needs to be addressed in order that those within society who might be willing to turn in are not disuaded simply by having watched theh office once and seen Gareth.
 
F

fozzy

Guest
#9
[quote="Das Stab]Social attitudes have changed, but we don't have trouble getting people in the door. But when they do get in, we tell them be prepared to get called up within 3 years and paid less than their civvy wage, don't expect your family to get much support, don't expect a pension or any compensation when your knees and back are f*cked from years of tabbing. Oh and don't expect to get any free education/cheap loans/society respect like the yanks.

Other than that, STAG ON....[/quote]

Das Stab - I concuur about no shortage of willing recruits coming in through the door. The problem is - expectation management. All the glossies and PR bumf show soldiers doing fun things and running about - "Great" says Jo Soap "that's just what I want - I'm having some of that", so he or she strolls down to the local TAC to be told you have TAFs and then a two week basic course followed by GAPs training. If you're lucky we can get you through in a year (realistically) - then we have to trade you - perhaps another 6 months depending on trade camp etc. Then they start to lose interest and stop coming in - the flash to bang is too long

Now I think GAPs is producing better trained soldiers - but it is seen by the crows as another hurdle and more time to be booked off. Why not increase the recruits course to 3 weeks and absorb the GAPs training into the course - that should reduce the time taken to produced a trained soldier and be more in fitting with the recruits expectations. We also get them quicker.

Just my ramblings, but something that I have noted and commented on in my unit.
 
#10
adir said:
Stab - You raised all the negative influencing possibilities about TA manning, it really says it all. It would be more interesting to see the positive influencing possibilities.
The thread is asking about the reasons for the downturn in manning. Stab gives his reasons.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#11
OK as I have served as a reg and a stab (not a term I had heard of before becoming one) I think that in 10 to 15 years regular annual deployments will be the norm. The army is getting smaller not efficient. The men will make it efficient and only when a core of quality manpower is retained.If call ups had been widespread for GW1 then most of whats happening now would be accepted and as a nation and parents we would know what to expect. I think that perhaps as a unit or even individuals you should be able to be on an active list which all the time counts as pensionable service (be honest now we are told top make provision and how can you do that in a sandpit) rewards are important and if you feelyou need to step down to a lower level of commitment then you should be able to for up to 3 or 6 years. We would have a core of 4 weekend/2 week trained experienced personnel who could be called on if the really big ballon went up. Continuation of pensionable service for ex regs would be nice as 1 year TA for 3 months reg etc unless on scale 1 immediate readiness. Then it should match in length of deployment etc.
You have all said it as well the unit is measured by the bums on seats or boots on Parade. I had a wonderful TA OC and god bless him he could fill a drill hall. It reminded me of the old lags left over from the 60s/70s in the regs, hard drinkers but hard workers. When he passed away we got an oddball ladder climber combined with unmotivated PSI's who were there as it was a div soft posting better than 2 years in fermanagh etc.
Half of the problems stemmed in our unit from continous deployment to Otterburn from the south coast in coaches to be dropped by big green 4 ton helicopters into an unrealistic scenario as it was urgent to meet a deadline in the training program. I really enjoyed my time in both units but would have stayed if pension was transferable/continued, Nook camp was bulldozed and 2 week one pip wonders would recognise when they were being helped not to get stroppy.
 
#12
Perception being reality, are we therefore guilty of undershooting expectations to such an extent that retention is only ever likely to be successful with a few rather than the majority?.

Are the people attracted by glossy ads the right people to take the TA forward long term?. The TA is/was a broad church to accommodate a range of different folk from all walks of life who wish to commit different amounts of time at different points in their career - is a 28 day warning, 1 in 3/4 years mobilisation culture likely to attract a broad cross section (probably not) of society?. Sadly, the TA needs a broad cross section to survive with it's current ethos intact (or does it?).
 
#13
fozzy said:
Now I think GAPs is producing better trained soldiers - but it is seen by the crows as another hurdle and more time to be booked off. Why not increase the recruits course to 3 weeks and absorb the GAPs training into the course - that should reduce the time taken to produced a trained soldier and be more in fitting with the recruits expectations. We also get them quicker.
The problem with extending any course to three weeks is that it becomes increasingly difficult for many people to get the time away from whatever they normally do during the week. A fortnight will give most people some time during the year to spend with their families - three weeks fairly much fills an annual holiday allowance - and then there are questions about how many employers would react to requests (rather than mobilisation notices 8O ) for such a long single block of leave.

There are examples of nations who effectively mobilise their reserve recruits for the duration of their phase one and two training - can't yet see that happening here though.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#14
stab said:
Perception being reality, are we therefore guilty of undershooting expectations to such an extent that retention is only ever likely to be successful with a few rather than the majority?.

Are the people attracted by glossy ads the right people to take the TA forward long term?. The TA is/was a broad church to accommodate a range of different folk from all walks of life who wish to commit different amounts of time at different points in their career - is a 28 day warning, 1 in 3/4 years mobilisation culture likely to attract a broad cross section (probably not) of society?. Sadly, the TA needs a broad cross section to survive with it's current ethos intact (or does it?).
I loved that wide mix of very talented people, I had a super coy sigs nco who was more qualified than anyone else come degrees etc, would he give up his consultancy for 4 months of heat and flies?
Who knows, if we had the choice then it would be difficult to say no when all your mates are going even if just for the one.
I see many old friends at Remembrance with the local TA sigs pln oops sorry it should be a sdn but most are away, and they all seem to deploy. I wonder if they get the chance to go together. We all knew that should the big russian war start we would all ahve to go, thats why the HSF existed, to sleep in our drill halls ala walmington on sea. I dont believe that the spirit has gone from the TA, If I'm wrong then units should deploy together and build that spirit again.
looking forward to the future units could still be on a 28 day readiness
like the old spearhead even if there were no sandpit current!
 
#15
fas_et_gloria said:
The problem with extending any course to three weeks is that it becomes increasingly difficult for many people to get the time away from whatever they normally do during the week. A fortnight will give most people some time during the year to spend with their families - three weeks fairly much fills an annual holiday allowance - and then there are questions about how many employers would react to requests (rather than mobilisation notices 8O ) for such a long single block of leave.

There are examples of nations who effectively mobilise their reserve recruits for the duration of their phase one and two training - can't yet see that happening here though.
The CCRF relies on a two week mobilisation, why not extend that to three weeks for basic training?

msr
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#16
Thicko here whats CCRF. I just turned up missing most of my reserve kit having flogged it for beer chits and walked straight into a tape and junior brecon. Ouch.
 
#17
Civil Contingency Reaction Force. It basically provides 2 tranches of 500 people to help out for two weeks in a national emergency.

msr
 
#19
I think there are a couple of issues here rather than one single overriding reason.

The first and most obvious is the "am I enjoying this" equation that runs in people's minds. They balance the good (their mates, sense of accomplishment, the laughs) against the bad (crap TAC, bone OC, useless PSI. lousy kit) and as long as the balance is positive they'll turn up regularly. As soon as the balance goes negative they'll coast for a bit as it's a habit and if it goes on for too long they'll start to drift away.

The point here is that no one factor dominates. Too often however the little issues that form part of the equation are dismissed as, frankly, they are little. Let too many build up though and things go sour. As far as I am concerned they key here is good leadership - with leaders at all levels taking the time to look after and talk to the troops, out of hours as well as on parade, it will take a lot to remove the fun.

The next set of problems are not new but have greatly increased since the start of compulsory mobilisation. Put simply, increasing numbers of soldiers are finding regular peacetime mbilisation incompatible with civilian life. Note the words "regular" and "peacetime" before launching into the "bounty hunters" speech.

It could be the wife demanding that you leave as she can't cope if you go, or the realisation that your career will stall if you stay in as your manager sees the TA as a cost on the business. Maybe the lack of effective (as opposed to paper) employment protection that concerns you, or you can't afford the pay cut. Perhaps the complete lack of welfare support for your loved ones is an issue, or the fact that your wife has to quit work to look after the kids on her own and you can't afford to lose her salary.

These problems vary wildly from person to person, hence the huge difference in views seen. If your wife is OK with it, your employer happy then lucky old you. They also vary as the likelihood of mobilisation changes and with the mood of the country over the use to which troops are being put.
 
#20
CCRF aside, the issue is whether the basic principles of the structure, terms, funding and management of the TA is compatible with current demands (and those going forwards) and what impact does this have/is having on manning?
 
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