The future of the TA?

#1
While thinking about a witty retort to add to http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=105542.html , it occurred to me that what I was going to write was, possibly, a little close to the truth. You decide.

Discussing the relative merits of joining the RA(V) or RE(V), I was going to comment that, in the event of mobilisation, at least the RE stand a reasonable chance of doing what they'd been trained to do.

Take this a little further. Once an operation passes beyond the war-fighting phase, the requirement for large numbers of artillerymen reduces substantially. I'm guessing, but I surmise that the Regular component of the RA probably have sufficient personnel to staff their (gun-manning)roulements without the need of much asssistance from RA(V). Obviously, if the RA role as infantry (as in Telic 2+), then they'll need extra bods, but then the emphasis would be infantry-trained, rather than artillery-trained.

Ultimately, will we be looking at the disbanding of much of RA(V), to be replaced with Infantry or other units that are in short supply, when somebody cottons on that the expense of training is largely unjustified?

Sorry if this appears to be a dig at RA(V). It's not meant to be. I could have picked RSigs instead, but their allocation of the defence budget generally returns to the G10 shelves at the end of the weekend, rather than being expended to redistribute parts of training areas.

If the current philosophy of using the TA as individual supplements rather than as formed units continues, can we expect to see the TA ceasing to be a "Reserve Army" due to the loss of the various components that distinguish the difference between an army and a pool of substitutes?
 
#2
Battlefield Casualty Replacements!
 
#4
My dear puttees you are as out of date as your nickname, the secondary (infantry) role is something we don't do anymore as we are far too busy in either Primary or Tertiary roles

Most RA(v) Regts are light gun trained (100, 103 and 105), think there may be a call for that and the others include MLRS (101), GMLRS is in the 'stan, as well as the UAV (104) and STA (HAC and 101) assets that are being used in both theatres

The only Regt out of sorts is 106 which is still AD, however 106 is very busy on the mobilisation front providing troops in both theatres in different roles as they support 3 different RA Regts (albeit 2 of them in the same role), yes they will probably never deploy in an AD role, however neither will their Regular counterparts, when ever someone is mobilised now the whole Bty has to retrain on Ops kit, so a Rapier or HVM trained bod will just slot in as normal.

I would be surprised is the RA was touched but the fools of Whitehall may have other ideas, if anything needs sacking them I say get rid of the RE, after all we can just source any building work out to the poles :wink:
 
#5
I can't deny being out of date (obsolete is probably a better term) but, to be fair, I was never really in date. Like most other TA soldiers, I don't meet many TA units outside my own. The last RA(V) unit that I had dealings with were equipped with 25 pounders (last outing) and Blowpipe (newly acquired).

As I said, I'm not on a RA-knocking exercise here, and I've admitted not being up to date, so bear with me.

Although I accept that RA(V) units train on the guns that are used in theatre, my question is to do with the intensity of the Regular involvement. I know that one of the biggest gripes of the RE is that there is so much work to do and so few Regulars available to do it that life has become a routine of ops, course, pre-deployment trg, ops, course, etc. As a result, TA involvement provides a welcome, and necessary, respite. I may well have the wrong end of the stick, but I'd have thought that the Regular RA wouldn't have such a manning problem and would be able to cope using their own resources.

As you say, the AD component hasn't currently got a job, so there's already a reserve of personnel.

Without wanting to put your back up too much, there's only so much that you have to learn in the RA and training comprises drills. The same goes for RSigs, REME etc. There are a finite number of problems and each problem has the solution written in a book. RE is a bit different as the written solution often has to be adapted to suit the particular problem.

Realistically, how long would it take to convert an Infantry Coy into a RA Battery if the situation demanded? A week to learn the basics (you could skip normal progression from job to job and just train on the speciality required). Another couple of weeks of drills including live firing. If you take away the rank hierarchy which, let's face it, is the province of the career soldier, you could create a battery during a slightly extended OPTAG.

On that basis, there would be no need for an RA(V).



....and I am playing Devil's Advocate here because I believe that the "A" in TA represents "ARMY" and as such should include all arms. Unfortunately, I also foresee the TA being whittled down to an organisation that adapts to the current threat, rather than one which can react to any threat.


PS What's the tertiary role?
 
#6
There are 2 the Regt is split on , 2 Btys go to Iraq with a sort of AD gun (yeah I know it was reported in the sun but I'm not saying what it is exactly)

One of the Btys has that responsibility but also in supporting the use of UAVs

Sod speaking inthe third person, we have a bunch in training now going to Iraq in the first role and at least one in the latter role, Regt has decreed that as its the Regts reponsibility to support the first role primarily only those who have deployed to Iraq before can go to afganistan

If there is a change I doubt it would be a capbadge one but more of role possibly brining units like mine closer to UAV for op reasons, buyt again way above my pay statement.

I understand your comments about the variety in RE taskings and hope you take the ribbing in the way its intended, however how does that match up to the modern TA? In which a good proportion of our weekend activity is swallowed up in the pursuit of MATTS. If anything its a god send having a limited task as it takes less time to bring the drills back up to scratch after all the MATTs, ranges, Infantry and jollies. In essence we only have a handful of weekends actually doing the job a year

PS rumors I have heard is some of the R Signals is for the chop, but its all conjecture
 
#7
putteesinmyhands said:
I can't deny being out of date (obsolete is probably a better term) but, to be fair, I was never really in date. Like most other TA soldiers, I don't meet many TA units outside my own. The last RA(V) unit that I had dealings with were equipped with 25 pounders (last outing) and Blowpipe (newly acquired).
Drop me a PM and I'll try to get you out on a live-firing weekend.

There's a bit more to the RA(V) than the guns.

msr
 
#9
msr said:
putteesinmyhands said:
I can't deny being out of date (obsolete is probably a better term) but, to be fair, I was never really in date. Like most other TA soldiers, I don't meet many TA units outside my own. The last RA(V) unit that I had dealings with were equipped with 25 pounders (last outing) and Blowpipe (newly acquired).
Drop me a PM and I'll try to get you out on a live-firing weekend.

There's a bit more to the RA(V) than the guns.

msr
That's a very kind offer. Coincidentally, this sort of thing is something that I've been advocating recently. It's easier to support a unit if you've got some idea of how they work before you turn up.

If this sort of cooperation were to be developed on a wider scale, it may give the impression that the TA is an army, rather than a bunch of varied entities neatly packaged up, ready for the asset strippers.
 
#10
RA (V) units are far busier than you realise, although the cloud punchers among us maybe not being used in our primary role i.e as rapier operators or hvm we are being used in Iraq in a sort of air defence role, and there are positions available to us in other artillery regiments, both gun regiments and locating regiments. In my battery alone we have provided soldiers on Telic ever since Telic 3, the guys we have mobilised have been used in a variety of different roles from an infantry based role, to UAV, light gun, air defence etc.

In responce to your statement about training infanteers to gunners, it is far harder to train an infantry soldier to be a rapier operator than it is to train a rapier operator to be an infantry soldier.
 
#11
ben0239 said:
In responce to your statement about training infanteers to gunners, it is far harder to train an infantry soldier to be a rapier operator than it is to train a rapier operator to be an infantry soldier.
So out of interest how would you compare this to training a gunner to become a UAV operator?
 
#12
ben0239 said:
In responce to your statement about training infanteers to gunners, it is far harder to train an infantry soldier to be a rapier operator than it is to train a rapier operator to be an infantry soldier.
Ummm... Isn't that because our initial training is Infantry-based, as are MATTS? Thus training the Rapier operator to be an Infantry soldier is merely refreshment?

To be a GOOD Infantry soldier takes practice. To be a GOOD Rapier operator involves reading and understanding the book thoroughly. Or am I wrong? (Note that if you say that I'm wrong, you're saying that the book is also wrong. Nothing wrong with this, just take steps to correct the book).

Whilst practice makes perfect, most errors are made by not reading the instructions.
 
#13
frenchie said:
ben0239 said:
In responce to your statement about training infanteers to gunners, it is far harder to train an infantry soldier to be a rapier operator than it is to train a rapier operator to be an infantry soldier.
So out of interest how would you compare this to training a gunner to become a UAV operator?
BTW There's no such word as "Infanteers." I presume you mean Infantrymen. Unless you believe there's a similar link between infants and infantry as there is between adults and adultery...
 
#14
putteesinmyhands said:
ben0239 said:
In responce to your statement about training infanteers to gunners, it is far harder to train an infantry soldier to be a rapier operator than it is to train a rapier operator to be an infantry soldier.
Ummm... Isn't that because our initial training is Infantry-based, as are MATTS? Thus training the Rapier operator to be an Infantry soldier is merely refreshment?

To be a GOOD Infantry soldier takes practice. To be a GOOD Rapier operator involves reading and understanding the book thoroughly. Or am I wrong? (Note that if you say that I'm wrong, you're saying that the book is also wrong. Nothing wrong with this, just take steps to correct the book).

Whilst practice makes perfect, most errors are made by not reading the instructions.
I really hate this line about doing the infantry job but they can't do ours etc. its balls

An Artilleryman in the Infantry role is very different to an Infantryman, I have done the "Infantry role" many times on ops (mostly NI) but would never stake I was an infantryman. I did patrolling, OPs, IS duties etc, same as my Infantry colleagues, what I didn't do was Battalion level operations with Gunner, Mortar and SF support, that's infantry. Roles in NI, FY, Iraq and Afghan for the RA "Infantilllery" are always patrolling less "sharp" zones keeping the peace, supporting Police ops and representing the military, you don't hear of 3 RHA being asked to remove Terry from some village and dominate the area.

As to the claim that AD is reading books then try your hand at HVM, it take a shed load of practice (over a 1000 confirmed simulated hits) before you are allowed to fire a live missile, that takes months sometimes before you are ready. Would you say that anyone can fire a Carl Gustav successfully and hit the target after reading a book ?
 
#15
frenchie said:
ben0239 said:
In responce to your statement about training infanteers to gunners, it is far harder to train an infantry soldier to be a rapier operator than it is to train a rapier operator to be an infantry soldier.
So out of interest how would you compare this to training a gunner to become a UAV operator?
Training an AD Gunner to being a MUAV Gunner is fairly straight forward mainly because the make up of a HVM det and a MUAV det is identical in number and rank structure, this goes a long way towards helping the change over. What also helps is having an understanding of the airspace.

As for the technical aspect, this hasn't proved too difficult as its a fairly straight forward technical application pretty close to the level of complexity for HVM, I don't wish to sound condescending as I am willing to admit that Gunners aren't the sharpest tool, but we still rank higher on the BARB for a reason, forgive the pun but AD isn't rocket science, but it takes a bit more than having a basic grasp of English.
 
#16
I have to agree with wellyhead we have had a number of guys go on telic with 32 RA. Admitedly they did join that unit when they were still phoenix. My brother went to Telic with 32 RA as a hvm operator and he was trained on phoenix as a basic operator. It was some time ago since he mobilised (approx 4 years) so i forget the exact length of training he had on the kit, but i think it was about 8 weeks. Similarly we have guys from our unit training on a "sort of air defence gun" and they can learn that new bit of kit in 8 weeks.

In responce to the question on training to be a rapier operator it is far more difficult than simply reading a few books. To become a basic operator takes approximately 2 years in the first year you learn how to set the kit up and all the theory behind it (which there is a lot of), which involves a number of written and practical tests. This course is normally done over 3 or 4 weekends and a 2 week camp. The following year you learn all the operator drills, you do a thousand practise shots on the trainers. These shots have to be over a certain bench mark to pass and therefore you may in fact do more than a thousand. Once you have done this you then go on a firing camp where you have to do more tests, if you are succesful there you will then get to fire a live missile. Which is awesome. Once all that is complete you then have to do a signals course which is 10 days long and then you are qualified as an operator.
This is very similar to the training you have to do to be a HVM operator aswell.
 
#17
ben0239 said:
I have to agree with wellyhead we have had a number of guys go on telic with 32 RA. Admitedly they did join that unit when they were still phoenix. My brother went to Telic with 32 RA as a hvm operator and he was trained on phoenix as a basic operator. It was some time ago since he mobilised (approx 4 years) so i forget the exact length of training he had on the kit, but i think it was about 8 weeks. Similarly we have guys from our unit training on a "sort of air defence gun" and they can learn that new bit of kit in 8 weeks.

In responce to the question on training to be a rapier operator it is far more difficult than simply reading a few books. To become a basic operator takes approximately 2 years in the first year you learn how to set the kit up and all the theory behind it (which there is a lot of), which involves a number of written and practical tests. This course is normally done over 3 or 4 weekends and a 2 week camp. The following year you learn all the operator drills, you do a thousand practise shots on the trainers. These shots have to be over a certain bench mark to pass and therefore you may in fact do more than a thousand. Once you have done this you then go on a firing camp where you have to do more tests, if you are succesful there you will then get to fire a live missile. Which is awesome. Once all that is complete you then have to do a signals course which is 10 days long and then you are qualified as an operator.
This is very similar to the training you have to do to be a HVM operator aswell.
Let's ignore the 2 years bit - 1.8 years of this has got nothing to do with the training.

Four weekends and a two week camp - OK, we'll count this as 20 days.

Learn operator drills and fire 1000 shots on a trainer. If we assume that this is another four weekends and a two week Camp - another 20 days (and I think I'm being overly generous).

Signals course - 10 days. Take out the travelling time and a day off and call it 7 days.

Lump it all together, cutting out some revision (as it will still be fresh in your memory), lose R&R and AT, take out travelling time, put an extra hour on the daily timetable. And you have an operator fully trained in a month.

Or, take an Infantryman and tell him that he will have a secondary role as a Rapier operator. Train him in Rapier alongside his normal Infantry training. In two years, he'd reach a standard of training where the transition to qualified operator would be cut down to a fortnight.

The same goes for any job in the Army that is based on drills.

If you want to cut the time down even further, you could start by treating the soldiers as grown-ups. Issue them with the Pams and course notes BEFORE the course. Then most of the lectures could be replaced with tutorials, cutting down on the time in the classroom by going straight to "Any questions?" and confirming understanding by quizzing the students.

Artillery pieces are big rifles. The Lt Gun is a direct comparison. Rapier and HVM are variations on a theme. They're big enough that it takes a crew to operate them, so it takes drills to make the crew efficient. But each crewman doesn't really have that much to learn. If you take each drill that a crew could ever have to do, and run them all consecutively, the whole process would be over in minutes. You repeat the process to develop speed and eliminate errors.

It's absolutely ludicrous to suggest that it takes two years to learn a 10 minute set piece. I'd suggest that it takes less than a month, but 23 months for the system to get people and equipment in the same place at the same time.

Once you go further up the chain and depart crew drills to move into logistics and tactics, it becomes a different matter. You're no longer working in situations where the answer is cut and dried. But would there be a need for this level of hierarchy if the TA continues to develop into gap-filling substitutes? Or would a RA PSI suffice?
 
#18
putteesinmyhands said:
BTW There's no such word as "Infanteers." I presume you mean Infantrymen.
The Infanteer

He is born to the earth; on the day he enlists
He is sentenced to life on the soil,
To march on it, crawl on it, dig in it, sprawl on it,
Sleep on it after his toil.
Be it sand, rock or ice, gravel, mud or red loam
He will fight on it bravely, will die,
And the crude little cross telling men of his loss
Will cry mutely to some foreign sky.
He's the tired-looking man in the untidy garb,
weatherbeaten, footsore with fatigue,
But his spirit is strong as marches along
With his burdens for league upon league.
He attacks in the face of a murderous fire,
crawling forward, attacking through mud.
When he breaks through the lines, over wire and mines
On the point of his bayonet is blood.
Should you meet him, untidy, begrimed and fatigued,
Don't indulge in unwarranted mirth,
For the brave infanteer deserves more than your sneer,
He is truly the salt of the earth.




Written during World War II, and taken from the Australian War Memorial publication 'Jungle Warfare' in 1944 - one of a series of hard-bound books published and distributed primarily by soldiers to their families back home. This poem penned by a digger known only by his nom de plume 'A Gunner' and his Army Number NX70702.

I always thought it was a dubious term up till now
 
#19
Although it's a nice poem, it's written by an Australian Gunner, so not exactly a definitive example of the use of English.

Some examples of words which have the suffix "-eer":

Engineer: n. - One who manages as engine, particularly a steam engine; an engine driver.
Charioteer: n. - One who drives a chariot.
Fusileer: n. - Formerly, a soldier armed with a fusil.
Mountaineer: n. - An inhabitant of a mountain; one who lives among mountains.

So, an Infanteer would be:
i) One who manages an infant? No. That's a nanny.
ii) One who drives an infant? No. That's Mum or Dad.
iii) A soldier armed with an infant? Perhaps not.
iv) One who lives among infants? Michael Jackson tried it and didn't get a very good reception.

Call an Infantryman an Infanteer and I'll call a rifle a gun (which it is: n. - A gun, the inside of whose barrel is grooved with spiral channels, thus giving the ball a rotary motion and insuring greater accuracy of fire).(sic)
(the dictionary doesn't even use the correct words!)
 

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