The Development of the Forces - Other Pt1: Recruitment and

Discussion in 'Films, Music and All Things Artsy' started by Union-Jack, Apr 10, 2007.

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  1. [align=center]Recruitment and Retention[/align]



    What's this all about? Well, the short version is that I'm on the verge of finishing at uni, where I've been studying to become a writer for the past three years. I currently have one novel on the go ("The High Cliff", about a former British soldier working as a private military contractor in Baghdad) which should be finished sometime in the next two or three months, and I'm starting to look into ideas for the next book. (For the benefit of anyone wondering, neither novel is anything to do with uni.)

    The basic premise for the next novel is that at an unspecified point in the not so distant future, a political party wins a general election with defence as their main platform. In an attempt to ensure his re-election later on, the new PM decides to appoint a military historian (for simplicity's sake I'll refer to him as "H" as I haven't got around to naming any characters yet) as the new Minister for Defence, rather than some life-long politician who knows SFA about the Armed Forces. H is offered the job and carte blanche, and after accepting is shown his office and told to get on with it.

    With this in mind, I thought it might be worthwhile asking some questions here, starting threads to cover various areas of the Armed Forces in order to discuss what could realistically be done to improve the current situation, what someone at the top of the pecking order would be able to do with regards to the procurement of equipment and weaponry, and the changing of various operational and organisational practices. "The Development of the Forces" is the name for a document that I've begun compiling to contain the various possible measures that could be implemented. I'm interested in any opinions, ideas, theories etc. if you're interested in discussing them.

    A bit about myself: I'm very pro-Forces, have taken a greater interest than my peers ever since I began reading a mix of Douglas Reeman, Bernard Cornwell and Captain W. E. Johns at the age of eight. I was later very fortunate to be taught by an excellent history teacher in secondary school. (Not many - if any - teachers would, when examining the Vietnam War, discuss the various tactics developed and the pros and cons of the strategies of both sides, then compare and contrast it with Britain's efforts and experiences in the Borneo War.) My health is permanently shot to hell: my muscle coordination is down the spout, the soles of my feet are flat as pancakes, and I have reduced effectiveness in all five senses. You might say that I have a few tiny little doubts that I would be suitable material for the Forces, hence my decision to pursue a rather different career.

    End intro.

    Many thanks to everyone who's gotten back to me so far. As Bravo_Bravo pointed out, recruitment and retention are a big problem for the Forces, so I decided to put this up earlier than planned. Let me run this little lot past you, see what you think. Might these measures be useful in improving the current recruitment and retention situation?

    - All other ranks to receive salary and allowances increases of forty percent of the current rates.

    - Officers of the rank of major or equivalent and below to receive salary and allowances increases of thirty percent of the current rates.

    - Re-enlistment bonuses to be increased by two hundred and fifty percent.

    - South Africans and foreign nationals from other countries prohibiting their citizens from being employed as ‘mercenaries’ (or nations considering introducing such measures), whether they are currently serving in the Armed Forces or seek to do so, to be given priority in the granting of British citizenship. (They’re more useful than all these illegal immigrants or bogus asylum seekers cluttering up the place after all.)

    - Reenlistment maximum age to be extended to thirty-six years of age for certain corps and trades for which this is practical.

    - All bonuses (parachute pay, flying pay, and so on) to be increased in size by forty percent. Such bonuses only to be issued to those actually undertaking the work in question related to the bonus. Those temporarily unable to undertake this work due to medical reasons (e.g. a hospitalised paratrooper, loadmaster or similar) may continue to receive such bonuses until they are discharged from their treatment centre, whereupon they will need to return to undertaking the work in question. (The intention would be here to prevent, for example, desk jockeys and staff officers from claiming flying pay.)

    - Linguistics training to be offered to all personnel, with priority over places on courses given to those receiving CQB pay. Personnel qualified in other languages to be given bonus pay of £20.50 per day per language qualification held. Linguistics courses to be relevant to current and likely future operating theatres – for example, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pushta would be useful at present, Spanish would be useful if the Argentineans got shirty again in the future, whilst in all likelihood Scandinavian, Japanese, Latin, Gaelic or Dutch would not be especially useful. (Obviously, there’d be the additional bonus for those leaving the Forces if they’re fluent in other languages as that would make for a marketable job skill.)

    - Emergency services and the civil service to be given quotas for recruiting former members of the Armed Forces with nine years of honourable service: fifty percent of intake places to be offered first to those possessing such qualifications.

    - Intelligence services to be given recruitment quotas for thirty percent of intake places to be first offered to former members of the Armed Forces with nine years’ honourable service, and a further twenty percent of intake places to be first offered to former Special Forces personnel and military intelligence specialists with seven years’ honourable service in those particular fields and a total of nine years’ honourable service with the Armed Forces. If there are insufficient applicants for the latter group of places from former UKSF/military intelligence personnel, those places are to be first offered to other ex-service personnel without such specialised qualifications.

    Right... that's all I can come up with for now.

    Would any of these proposed schemes improve the current situation? Would any of them be practical to implement? My current estimates are that even if recruitment and retention increased to make the formation of infantry battalions, AAC regiments and suchlike that I'll discuss later, odds are the cost of these schemes probably wouldn't cost much more than a billion pounds (possibly less) - if a reasonable increase in the MOD annual budget could be secured (I'll get to that later on), odds are that would cover it.

    And last but not least, would any/all of these be enough to convince anyone to stay on/re-enlist if they proved to be possible and were implemented?


    Edited to add:
    - The intro.
    - Mr Happy: right, gotcha, sorry, I didn't know about hazard pay, so I've binned the bit about 'CQB pay'.
  2. Mr Happy

    Mr Happy LE Moderator

    To put this post in some context, UJ, is a student-pro-forces-author and is attempting to identify through some research the motivators for soldiers for his book, so that it can be based on fact and research (higher marks I guess). Being a student of course he's focused on money (rather than honour and loyalty)….

    So, for his book, perhaps we can make some comments.

    UJ. You need to explain every thread you start about where you are coming from, to the unaware, the above thread starter looks like a union demand to HMG.

    Couple of starting comments:

    Pay increases at 40% and so on is all good if not affordable… Most soldiers are not demanding this sort of increase.

    Special Forces soldiers don't need more money per see, but I imagine a golden handcuff retirement bonus might be welcomed by DSF

    CQB - could be hazard pay and should be paid to everyone deployed - More RLC REMF's got shot than proper soldiers in GW1 for example. And given a choice now, would you rather be in a Challenger2 MBT on patrol or driving up the road from Kuwait to Basrah in an unarmoured Daf truck?

    The problem with raising the age of retirement is that you end up with too may (expensive) Colonels and WO2's and not enough troops. I imagine most people would feel that we have the balance about right now.

    Most soldiers would rather have better body armour / weapons / armoured vehicles / radios / housing than and extra 3.29 per day. Given that you can't spend the money if you are dead or your wife fcks off whilst you are on tour.
  3. Right, sorry about the bugs in that lot:

    - The new intro/teaser: do you reckon that'll do the job?

    - CQB pay: right, I've removed the waffle about that - I didn't know about hazard pay. (Although it's not too hard to figure out what that's issued for...)

    - No, I’m not exclusively focused on money. If I were so inclined, I’d be trying to get a job at a tabloid newspaper as a journalist. I simply don’t think that fourteen grand per annum, plus allowances, is enough for a private soldier who has to stick his neck on the line in Iraq/Afghanistan/Bosnia/Sierra Leone etc., and that generally speaking the rates of pay are disgustingly low.

    Actually I do appreciate honour, loyalty and a strong sense of camaraderie. However, I’m looking into policy measures that would be practical to introduce (and ideally should not violate the Laws of Physics). Short of establishing, say, the Royal Corps of Psychics or somesuch organisation (in the manner of the Psi Corps from that old sci-fi television series Babylon 5, which used to be on Channel 4 back in the 1990s), honour, loyalty and a strong sense of camaraderie are not things that can be enforced.

    Any complete pillock in a position of power can destroy the morale of a military force (Blair, Brown and Co. are living proof of this). But encouraging such values is, at best, difficult for a remote politician/politician-stand-in, even if they do understand and appreciate the importance of such concepts: it’s all very much a case of what individual soldiers do and how they behave together that decides whether or not such things exist in a particular unit.

    What such a person is quite capable of doing in an attempt to improve the recruitment and retention situation is to introduce increases in pay scales, which is why I’ve suggested them along with various other bits and pieces. At the moment, the general public perception of a military career is that you get rubbish pay for a high-risk job. (Okay, the media frenzy about the Snatch Land Rovers didn't help, especially seeing how they didn't consider the impracticalities of conducting patrols exclusively from inside Warriors, CR2s and other heavily-armoured vehicles.)

    My line of thinking is that whilst there's not a lot that can be done about the 'high-risk job' part of the equation (aside from developing tougher and lighter makes of body armour, getting good weapons, trying to ensure that future wars have clearly defined objectives, etc.) the 'rubbish pay' part could be improved. Yes, hopefully recruits attracted by the new wages would get into the proper spirit of things once they were in, but something needs to interest them enough to go down to a recruiting office and sign on in the first place. Right now, not enough people can see good reasons to enlist (and of those, a fair few are ineligible for various reasons, e.g. health, disabilities etc.) so something needs to change that. If I'm mistaken then fair enough - where am I going wrong?

    Okay, maybe I was aiming higher than necessary - what would be more reasonable for a pay increase? Would half of what I originally proposed be more practical, might that be effective?

    - My main cause for concern with regard to bonuses is the inordinate number of desk jockeys, often staff officers, who claim bonuses for things they're very unlikely to ever do. (For example, I believe the RAF has approximately two thousand five hundred personnel claiming flying pay, yet less than five hundred of those personnel are assigned to actually fly aircraft, whilst the rest e.g. run bases here in the UK.) Sorry about that, I should've been clearer there.

    - Housing - crud, sorry, the bit about that is filed under 'Bases and Accommodation". I’m guessing it would take somewhere between six and eight billion pounds – if so, it might be easier to spread it across three or four years, spending two billion each year to improve the current situation, after which half a billion of each annual budget would need to be reserved for the purposes of maintaining housing (possibly more if I’m underestimating the amount that would be needed for the purposes of maintenance) in order to prevent a similar crisis from developing in the future.

    - The stuff about small arms and other equipment will be covered in a new thread. (I’ve got material for up to forty threads: there’s a lot to cover.)

    - My reasons for suggesting the quotas of recruitment places being first offered to Forces-leavers are that theoretically these would provide a reasonable incentive to join the Forces and serve for a useful period of time, with there being a job-for-life at the end of a time in the Forces if all other options fell through.

    - The increased retirement age: true, that is a bit of a flaw as far as attracting back ex-Forces personnel goes. A lot of personnel with invaluable experience have left due to the rubbish pay, lack of kit and so on, (too, the private circuit offers a lot better pay) and I felt that it might be worthwhile to try and encourage them to return. I'm not sure how to get around that particular problem - if you have any advice, I'd be interested to hear it.

    - SF: my main reason for the bit about the quota for the intelligence services with regards to ex-SF and military intelligence personnel is that these are people who already have useful skills and experiences that would improve the capabilities of the intelligence services. I’m aware that a number of ex-SF soldiers agree to be kept ‘in reserve’ to be called in for certain ops, either so-called ‘black bag jobs’ or simply because there aren’t enough people still in their old services available to undertake a more conventional operation, for which they’re highly paid. However, I believe that some of these people would be useful additions to the intelligence services, and would provide those organisations with new skills and operating practices, hence why I’d encourage their recruitment by the intelligence services. Too, military intelligence personnel probably have different techniques from their civil counterparts, some of which could improve the latter’s effectiveness were they to be introduced.

    Here's hoping this little lot isn't a complete load of tosh... sayonara for now.