TA Re-org: Reposted from Armynet with permission

#1
Re-posted from armynet by permission from the original author:

I fear we may simply be rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic sundeck unless the review recognises a few realities:

TA soldiers only turn up because the overall experience is fun. Not fun as in balloons and party hats, but challenging, rewarding and worthwhile. Being part of a sausage machine turning out IRs is not - once you've done a tour - fun.

The utter farce that is JPA is not fun. Waiting half the evening for a DII terminal, finding that the DII password has timed out, finding out that the helpdesk is shut and that when you do ring them (from civvy job) they can't reset it there and then, they have to email it to your PSAO who prints it out and gives it to you - oh and then you have to ring them again (from work of course) to close the ticket, is most definitely not fun. Why does putting in an expense claim now take me a lot longer than it ever used to ? Why do I now have to keep a box file full of paperwork when I never used to ? What fool decided what every time I enter more than one claim I will automatically get audited ? Given the scarcity of access to JPA it's rare I enter a single claim. Every time I use the expense system at work, or get paid the right money on the right date every month it reminds me that the Army cares so little for the troops that it tolerates this utter, complete travesty. And breathe ...

To get soldiers to stay for a career - you have to offer one. Concentrate too much on the short term and why bother staying more than a few years ? If the regs are happy to staff every post Cpl and above that's not a problem.

The more time you require from a volunteer, the fewer you will get. Higher standards (ie MATTS) require more time. Creeping excellence is an insidious problem. Choose carefully, rather than kneejerking to higher standards. Oh, and next time you rejig the training, try requalifying the instructors before you do. The TA can't just drop everything for a fortnight course at short notice.

Dislocation of expectation - we tell soldiers that they will deploy into theatre in body armour, PRR, SUSAT, driving LR Wolf and all sorts - then we train them with none of the above as none are scaled (Corps here, Inf etc may vary). Sometimes people manage to scrounge - but that hardly instils confidence that the TA is a professional organisation if the only way we can train realistically is to abuse the system. And it also makes a mockery of the "higher standards" drive.

Travel - TA soldiers need to get to the TAC as quickly as possible. Centralised training is a good idea but multi-hour trips either end of a packed weekend in one of our fleet of crappy minibuses make the heart sink. Add to that a train journey to get to the TAC and the need to endure the benighted farce that is the lottery of Sunday cancellations and it is not retention positive. These are not "shut up and get on with it"issues, these are reasons people leave. Keep it local.

New soldiers want to belong. Old style squads for CMS seemed to work well. Now we stuff them into a nameless, faceless one size fits all centralised regime and wonder why they feel adrift. And some drift off.

If you want the TA on exercise, ask them 12 to 18 months in advance. Again and again dets get unfilled - or filled by availability not suitability - as we can't rearrange our lives at short notice.

Suggestions then:

Stores. Close every last clothing and webbing store. Outsource to the people who run catalogue shopping, Amazon or whoever. If I want something I order it (via ArmyNet maybe), approved by whoever, turns up at either the TAC or home. Play.Com (for example) can tell me every single purchase I've ever made, securely, online. The Army equivalent should do the same for my holdings.

Ditto for publications. Issue to individuals, amendments to individuals, get them back when they leave.

Common sense on vehicles. Borrow them from local units, not drive to the end of the earth because that's where the nearest minibus with the correct capbadge lives.

If you want to recruit from a town, put a TAC there. Plan using a population map. Close a TAC there, watch as most of the soldiers disappear.

Keeping a full suite of instructors up to speed is difficult - impossible in my experience, we scrape by, importing them as necessary. (Doesn't help when soldiers refuse courses saying they'd rather spend weekends doing what they joined to do instead of touring sub-units doing MATTS - again.) So staff ranges with people (civvies would be fine) to deliver a package or training. Turn up with kit, train, tidy up and leave - no endless hours of searching for the right amendment, taking a day off work to sort the stores out and so on.
 
#3
Blue_On_You said:
msr said:
Lots of things
Which are all spot on. You have my complete agreement, Personally I don't think that the system will fix any of them in the next 10 years.
Will you still be around in ten?
 
#4
Nope. I have very much enjoyed my time in the TA but have steadily experienced constant changes for the worse over the recent years. It has come to the point now where the cons will soon outweigh the pros for me and therefore, not wanting to miss out on the fun, I plan to join the regular army.
 
#5
msr said:
The more time you require from a volunteer, the fewer you will get. Higher standards (ie MATTS) require more time.
Higher standards?? Don't make me laugh, TA has lowered its standards year after year. I'm surrounded by TA soldiers trying to talk each other into attending with no support from the system, this agony aunt can only last for so long until the gripes effect me.

I agree with every other point in that post, its game over time. I've not attended for nearly a month now, watching my local football/rugby teams win, helping my kids make a pizza, going for a walk in the countryside, having a lie in..... vrs an early start/little sleep in 3 world accommodation to pass tests, I passed 20 years ago as a recruit.
 
#6
The review will sadly not be about any of these things.

You have to ask yourself why? Why have a review now? Why open up a potential can of worms at this particular moment? I would suggest that it has to do much with the fact that they already know most of the answer. The review is to logic check the solution and give it credibility (in their eyes).

Question is, what is the solution?

I suspect it will have a lot to do with:

* more useable TA
* TA more aligned with regulars (formally)
* graduated benefits according to 'availability' for mobilisation
* move towards centralised training
* move towards TA units being more aligned with regular units - even to the point of being OPCOM
* TACOS reviewed and the introduction of a formal contract
* greater control of the TA by the regular Army generally
* bolstering regional forces
* ability to transfer seamlessly into the regulars (and back again)
* erasing the cold war/UK Ops piece and focusing entirely on expeditionary Ops.
* acquiring a medal for the author.
 
#7
Wingletang said:
acquiring a medal for the author.
Ooh, you beastly cynic! How dare you besmirch the honour of the Swiss Des and his cohort of 'yes' mongs! :lol:
 
#8
Wingletang said:
You have to ask yourself why? Why have a review now? Why open up a potential can of worms at this particular moment?
Sensible head on; Politicians like to feel important, useful and wanted, but are terrified of getting things wrong and being hung out to dry by Cyclops and the press. Ergo, talking about changing stuff, rather than actually changing stuff is much safer and more career-enhancing. If a policy review white paper discussion focus group actually comes up with something functional it's quickly disposed of before somebody sees. Nobody worries about the sh!tstorm produced when the PBI carry out the deranged halfwittery that has been published as Options for Peas or the Drastic Defence Review, because they will all have moved on to new jobs in the ministry of certain things or to a nice non-executive directorship. :roll:

Cynical? Moi?
 
#9
Stores. Close every last clothing and webbing store. Outsource to the people who run catalogue shopping, Amazon or whoever. If I want something I order it (via ArmyNet maybe), approved by whoever, turns up at either the TAC or home. Play.Com (for example) can tell me every single purchase I've ever made, securely, online. The Army equivalent should do the same for my holdings.
This is coming, for clothing at least. I am in one of the units piloting it. Limited to C95 + ancillaries, socks and boots (and, apparently chefs' clothing - but I'm not scaled for that so can't see the options) in the trial, but it delivers to unit or alternate address (work or home). It stores sizes, rank etc, so offers you the correct NSN ... You get a certain number of points, so you don't need specific authorisation for every order - but your unit can allow you extra points if you need them. Run by "Logistik Unicorp", whoever they are.

I have no idea what of this is unique to the pilot and not intended for the production version nor how far they intend to take this - I assume it won't go as far as loan kit, as that is scaled per unit not per soldier - but you never know. There is also a not-yet-active option to dole out your own cash for kit. We'll see how this one plays.

Edited to add: And you access it through Armynet, not DII.
 
#10
Wingletang said:
The review will sadly not be about any of these things.

You have to ask yourself why? Why have a review now? Why open up a potential can of worms at this particular moment? I would suggest that it has to do much with the fact that they already know most of the answer. The review is to logic check the solution and give it credibility (in their eyes).

Question is, what is the solution?

I suspect it will have a lot to do with:

* more useable TA
* TA more aligned with regulars (formally)
* graduated benefits according to 'availability' for mobilisation
* move towards centralised training
* move towards TA units being more aligned with regular units - even to the point of being OPCOM
* TACOS reviewed and the introduction of a formal contract
* greater control of the TA by the regular Army generally
* bolstering regional forces
* ability to transfer seamlessly into the regulars (and back again)
* erasing the cold war/UK Ops piece and focusing entirely on expeditionary Ops.
* acquiring a medal for the author.
Apart from the last one (for which I care little), all these have my vote right now.

Where do I sign?
 
#11
Dilfor said:
Wingletang said:
The review will sadly not be about any of these things.

You have to ask yourself why? Why have a review now? Why open up a potential can of worms at this particular moment? I would suggest that it has to do much with the fact that they already know most of the answer. The review is to logic check the solution and give it credibility (in their eyes).

Question is, what is the solution?

I suspect it will have a lot to do with:

* more useable TA
* TA more aligned with regulars (formally)
* graduated benefits according to 'availability' for mobilisation
* move towards centralised training
* move towards TA units being more aligned with regular units - even to the point of being OPCOM
* TACOS reviewed and the introduction of a formal contract
* greater control of the TA by the regular Army generally
* bolstering regional forces
* ability to transfer seamlessly into the regulars (and back again)
* erasing the cold war/UK Ops piece and focusing entirely on expeditionary Ops.
* acquiring a medal for the author.
Apart from the last one (for which I care little), all these have my vote right now.

Where do I sign?
I disagree entirely.








Anyone who can acheive all that deserves the bloody medal.

More seriously, the only area which concerns me slightly is the potential loss of TA command. I know there are mixed views hereabouts, but, in my experience, Regular COs (who by definition have missed the cut to command regular regiments) are less effective than a CO(V) who genuinely understands the reality of TA service (and is less likely to use TA soldiers to do a regular career regain through spurious and ultimately unhelpful initiatives).
Some of the personal politics inspired guff I've seen in recent years, flies in the face of not only common sense on a wider level, but the specific, and specifically requested, concerns and advice of (V) officers throughout the regiment.
 
#12
None of this addresses the key question of what the TA is for.

Is it to be casual labour, to make up deficiencies in Regular Army recruiting (as it looks to be now)?

Is it to be a Home Defence force, to free the Regulars for 'Expeditionary' tasks (as per 1913)?

Is it to be an integrated part of 'One Army' formations, with suitable support, funding and manning levels (after the American model)?

Is it going to bumble along, with tweaks here and cuts there, because we've got it, no-one has the courage to scrap it entirely but we haven't got a coherant vision of what we really want, and anyway, soneone's got bus lane policy in East Lothian to work on before lunch (as Broone appears to think)?

There are lots of ways you can tweak your Execution paragraph, but if you get the Mission wrong, you're wasting your time.
 
#13
angular said:
None of this addresses the key question of what the TA is for.

Is it to be casual labour, to make up deficiencies in Regular Army recruiting (as it looks to be now)?

Is it to be a Home Defence force, to free the Regulars for 'Expeditionary' tasks (as per 1913)?

Is it to be an integrated part of 'One Army' formations, with suitable support, funding and manning levels (after the American model)?

Is it going to bumble along, with tweaks here and cuts there, because we've got it, no-one has the courage to scrap it entirely but we haven't got a coherant vision of what we really want, and anyway, soneone's got bus lane policy in East Lothian to work on before lunch (as Broone appears to think)?

There are lots of ways you can tweak your Execution paragraph, but if you get the Mission wrong, you're wasting your time.
The TA can't have a mission, by definition.
 
#14
fas_et_gloria said:
in my experience, Regular COs (who by definition have missed the cut to command regular regiments)
I was chatting with a bloke, not many months ago, who was offered both and chose the TA unit. Don't assume that people only command TA units because they weren't good enough to command regular ones.

fas_et_gloria said:
Regular COs are less effective than a CO(V) who genuinely understands the reality of TA service
Really? In my few years I've seen multiple regular and TA COs. The regulars are better by miles.

fas_et_gloria said:
The TA can't have a mission, by definition.
What definition would that be?
 
#15
Wingletang said:
* bolstering regional forces
* erasing the cold war/UK Ops piece and focusing entirely on expeditionary Ops.
Is this a leak or speculation?

That says my Sqn survives but the regiment is cut, I've suspected this would happen anyway (as it was down for disbanding a couple of years ago). I'm supposed to lmove from my current role next year and take a regimental role - guess I'm out of the TA either of my own accord or the armies.
 
#16
StabTiffy2B said:
fas_et_gloria said:
in my experience, Regular COs (who by definition have missed the cut to command regular regiments)
I was chatting with a bloke, not many months ago, who was offered both and chose the TA unit. Don't assume that people only command TA units because they weren't good enough to command regular ones.
Indeed, however, one of the significant dangers is that a role which is supposed to be done in addition to a full time civilian career, ends up either being micromanaged by a full-time incumbent, or ignored as insufficiently fulfilling. Seen both, all too recently.

Having served with regular units, TA units and TA sub-units of regular units, they are all significantly different beasts which need different styles of leadership. I'm the first to admit that, 'CO (Reg) of a TA unit' does not mean bad, but it ought to be that the volunteer who is good enough to do it is, by the nature of the boarding process, not only the best of his peer group, but also inculcated in the nature and ethos of that which he is to command. Arguably the regular CO who has seen service as Adjt and then, later TM, is going to have the background to simply adjust: all too often this is not the case.

Too often decisions are made by regular COs of volunteer units which are directly counterproductive, in terms of operational effectiveness as providers of IRs, for example, because they fail to comprehend the subtle but distinctive differences between the regular soldier and his volunteer counterpart.

fas_et_gloria said:
Regular COs are less effective than a CO(V) who genuinely understands the reality of TA service
Really? In my few years I've seen multiple regular and TA COs. The regulars are better by miles.
...and yet your last CO, who was , I'd remind you, a volunteer himself, was widely touted (throughout the CoC) as the best in the Bde.

fas_et_gloria said:
The TA can't have a mission, by definition.
What definition would that be?
I shan't patronise you (like normal :D ) by going any further than suggesting that you look up the doctrinal definition of, 'a reserve'.
 
#17
fas_et_gloria said:
fas_et_gloria said:
The TA can't have a mission, by definition.
What definition would that be?
I shan't patronise you (like normal :D ) by going any further than suggesting that you look up the doctrinal definition of, 'a reserve'.
Perhaps you're confusing my cleverly constructed simile with reality... :D

...but which of the models I suggested do you think the TA should follow?

and anyway, a reserve in constant use isn't a reserve, it's casual labour.
 
#18
I don't care which model they choose, i wish they would just pick one and stick to it for long enough to see if it works.

TB
 
#19
fas_et_gloria said:
...and yet your last CO, who was , I'd remind you, a volunteer himself, was widely touted (throughout the CoC) as the best in the Bde.
Really? As you know, my lowly position in the TA dosen't allow me access to many of the more interesting discussions which would be conducted at your level. However, many of the discussions that I was privvy to (and overheard because I'm an eavesdropping turd) did not put the bloke in such a good light.

My own experience of him can pretty much be summed up with "seemed a nice bloke, saw him a few times, didn't really do alot". I'll probably have forgotton who he even is in a few years. Now if that is the best the Bde can offer, then it dosen't say alot (that includes you and my boss too, you stalking freaks :D )

fas_et_gloria said:
I shan't patronise you (like normal :D ) by going any further than suggesting that you look up the doctrinal definition of, 'a reserve'.
No, please do. I'm obviously being thick (as usual). Explain to me why the TA couldn't have a mission.
 
F

fozzy

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#20
Wingletang said:
I suspect it will have a lot to do with:

* more useable TA
* TA more aligned with regulars (formally)
* graduated benefits according to 'availability' for mobilisation
* move towards centralised training
* move towards TA units being more aligned with regular units - even to the point of being OPCOM
* TACOS reviewed and the introduction of a formal contract
* greater control of the TA by the regular Army generally
* bolstering regional forces
* ability to transfer seamlessly into the regulars (and back again)
* erasing the cold war/UK Ops piece and focusing entirely on expeditionary Ops.
All sound good to me. The flip side of that is that we ought to be organised on a structure that mirrors the Regular army - ie the TA become a Deployable divsional sized entity - much like pre 1939!
 
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