The King & I

Discussion in 'Gunners' started by Proximo, Jul 31, 2008.

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  1. Apologies for long post, but I am aware that some will have difficulties downloading this.

    The document below is a white paper entitled 'The King and I', penned by 3 former Brigade Combat Team commanders with current operational experience. In simple terms, they are deeply concerned about the erosion of core competencies in the Field Artillery branch of the US Army and have written this paper as a consequence.

    Have a scan and see what you think, and ask yourselves if 3 of our Brigade Commanders (or similar) would write about this subject. Also, is the Royal Artillery in as parlous a state - the DRA certainly thinks not...

    I am directed to tell you that the text below and the downloadable document have been transcribed from the original and has been reproduced as is. I hope this generates some concise, erudite and sensible comment.

    A copy available for download (45kb) can be found here.
  2. Straight off, here my stab from a UK viewpoint.

    1. It seems that the RA have utterly neglected their dedicated training system and have failed, by any measure, to invest significantly in their core trainers. The perception is that the median quality of GCC is dropping away, and the IG stream continues to be an absolute laughing stock. It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better - if it does, of course.

    2. We have a tradition of aligning CS Regiments with Brigades, and GS Regiments one level higher. However, I seriously question the residual core expertise within those Regiments i.e. VP and fire discipline, basic CS TTPs and so on. Connect with Land OFT and countless PORs.

    3. I don't think we're at the stage where the most experienced people are our most junior officers - yet. How much training do RA Adjutants receive? Nil. BCs? Hardly any. COs? Yeah right...

    4. RA Regiments get next to no time to conduct essential CT1-3 training, and where they do, it is always coupled to another training 'opportunity'. Recent PORs have made a real issue of this, citing needless duplication of effort and replication of activity. Whatever happened to the Regimental Firing Camp?

    5. Why are our young Captains leaving in droves? Pissed off? Bored? Probably not - I suggest 'operational satisfaction' is a factor as much as anything so perhaps we should be careful what we wish for.... :D

    6. I am simply not convinced that RA PLC have any real handle on just how parlous the situation really is at the coal face, particularly where the delivery of training is concerned. As more of the training burden from Ph1-3 is passed back to the Field Army, nothing has been put in place to assist, rectify or mitigate the scale of the problem. It's not all doom and gloom, and the current Col RA Trg is all over this with his hardcore team around him, but...

    There is a danger that we'll agonise about this sort of thing endlessly, and a great deal of good is being done in RSA to actively assist the Field Army with their needs, but there needs to be a fundamental shift in mental focus away from purely tribal endstates and petty Larkhill turf-wars towards doing the right thing for the good and benefit of the Army.

  3. An interesting (but long) read. My tuppence worth:

    From my point of view, we aren't losing the core skills just yet, because we just get thrashed between ops to ensure we maintain Gunnery standards. I belive this will soon change as the heirarchy listen to the complaints/sound of boots marching out of the army and reduce the tempo between ops - even if it means degrading Gunner capability. There is of course the watering down of skills, where RA units are deploying out of role, using other kit and being off their core eqpt for too long - this will be an issue soon.

    The massive haemorrhage of RA captains is due to the operational satisfaction issue (or it is with everyone I know that has signed off at that level). Why stay in to do another 3 years as a FOO (best job in the Army don't forget), when you have done FST Commander in Afghanistan already, because your unit had to send on the FOOs course early to plug the gaps? 2 FOO tours back to back, maybe up to 5 years - no thanks. And then what do you look forward to - thrashed as an Adjt or equivalent, brain melted at ICSC and then an SO2 job somewhere (probably deployed), before you might pick up that covetted command job at the helm of a Gun Bty, where you will be in the office until 11pm every night dealing with niff naff and trivia.

    Much the same as the US doc mentions, how will we maintain interest in the RA if we end up being used out of role more than in? And not everyone gets to do FST, undoubtedly a gucci role - but how many times.

    Me, I am now in to stay, the pension trap has me. On my timeline, I have just missed the point where I can get dissatisfied with my lot as a FOO (although I didn't do FST unfortunately). I am past that now and look forward to finishing my promotion earning tour, then doing ICSC (hopefully - no guarantees of promotion), then an SO2 job - but when do I become a Gunner again? Where is my Gunner motivation? I can't see much of one for a few years in the sense of "doing" Gunnery or FOOing, so really I'll be a General Service gunner officer waiting for a Gunnery position...but that will take me even closer to the pension, so bring it on!

    Lots of my colleagues though are slap in the middle of the winter of dicontent - they are FOOs early or FOOs now on time, or waiting to be FOOs doing another job (training mostly) and aren't happy. Lots are being chopped about mercilessly to fill the "op requirement" and short notice "needs of the service" postings. It can't go on. And the talk of giving RA captains the re-engagement bonus or retention bonus or such like - will that keep people in for long? Will it be a big enough pull? For some, but most RA Capts are not driven by the money - I predict that they would rather cut there losses and lose the bonus, than stag on and get stiffed.

    Phew. Rant on ARRSE - Done!
  4. Rant away old chap: the view inside HQ DRA is that there is no problem, and wine and honey flow freely...
  5. Well they're the ones talking of offering a retention bonus to Captains. If there is no problem, why chuck money at it?

    Having recently heard a fair bit of chat on this, apparently they don't view it a critical yet - we can manage by raping every Regiment for FOOs, sending 2 month old captains on FOOs course 2 years early (hence embittering them when they run out of jobs to do) and generally pi$$ing off and alienating that area of the Officer Corps. I doubt it is much rosier at junior major level - those that have survived/stayed in as Captains then get stiffed with jobs they dont want post ICSC as they dont have enough bodies to fill all jobs - essential jobs first - so probably not one you want.
  6. GunnersQuadrant

    GunnersQuadrant LE Moderator

    Interesting stuff, although I am still slightly hazy on where you see the fulcrum of the problem being.
  7. Mate, if I knew that, do you think I'd actually be in the Army, or earning a small fortune as a 'management consultant'... :D
  8. That's broadly what I now do - and as ex Gunner and AAC do you think that I:

    A - Roundly praise the careers and expectations management systems for Officers and Soldiers alike as practiced by the MCMS, hilighting the sound methodologies used to reconcile busy operational tempo against the need to carefully manage the career demographics of very high quality and dedicated individuals?

    B - Use the MoD 'experience' of crisis management, anodyne blandishments about Interests of Service, consistent reapplication of discredited yet favourite fixes that are inconsistent and injust as an object lesson in how very high quality and dedicated individuals with a sound appreciation of their role and excellent training are left feeling truly shafted by some totally unconnected systems and disconnected managers?

    Funnily enough I barely do either, although there are more lessons to be learned in exploring B. The reason why the Army approach is not as relevant as I would hope that it should be is because most modern commercial organisations have at least a spirited attempt at making the career experience sort of match the graduate recruiting poster and terms of reference. There's been some career drift? The RA still tells everyone that they'll make it to FOO, and the AAC charmingly omits to mention that a flying career is for some, more of a hobby...
  9. I hear from "Harry Larkers" that there is an RSA/Jt Fires version out called "A Farewell To The King", which is designed to kick off debate in the Gunners. I gather it is rather negative, with few ideas of how to solve current issues, just stating the obvious. Certain parts of the Arty Centre come in for criticism - again.

    Not seen it myself yet, anyone got a copy?
  10. Victorian Major - if an officer doesn't make FOO in the Gunners they must be proper rubbish (to use poor england).

    They are sending Lts on the FOOs course (i.e. at least a year early) to make up the numbers.

    Captains are the haemorrhage point, each Gun Regt needs at least 11 FOOs for basic commitment, probably more to meet FST commitments. Each Regiment also has 10 or so subbies, all aspiring to:

    a. Leave at the 3 year point
    b. become FOOs

    And that is just the Gun side. Under LoTs Commission, most Officers from the other disciplines get fed the "you must be a FOO to advance" line - so nearly everyone will do FOO (I once asked, out of interest, what else you COULD do in AD, Radar, UAV, MLRS, etc - I got looked at in a funny way "what, you don't want to be a FOO?").
  11. Captain_Crusty

    Captain_Crusty War Hero Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Good to see that the disbandment of US HQsRA is now being seen for the error it always clearly was. This paper will hopefully give some decent ammunition to counter those calling for a similar pattern within the RA.

    We also have the same support issue: 8 CS Regts and 10 Man Bdes. An uplift (never going to happen) is the logical answer.

    At least now we are only committed to primary and tertiary roles, we have less of the out-of-role dissatisfaction that was coming a couple of years ago and still seems to be endemic in the US.

    Would add more, but supper calls....