The myth of the Broken Covenant

asr1

War Hero
#1
All this "broken covenant" stuff has got me thinking. I get paid well, get enough leave, plenty of adventure training and sport and generally enjoy my life. I don't live in the mess (not enough space, SSSA instead which is closer to work and a lot more pleasant) but the standard of accommodation is very agreeable.

I've done two tours in the last 2 years and found the welfare packages to be well thought out and implemented where the situations allowed.

No civilians I have met hate me - although some disagree with government foreign policy and wish to talk to me about that.


JPA is an abortion and should get replaced and I think that more should be done to support injured soldiers.

I'm getting out in under 2 years, purely because the choice of jobs from here on in offers no excitement or fulfillment. I don't feel valued by the Army, but I don't know anybody who does feel valued by their civilian employer.

The Army is not close to breaking point and I believe that the constant public howls of outrage whenever accommodation, pay and welfare are mentioned are counterproductive to the ethos of the Army and our standing within society.

Comment please. No abuse or ranting - this is the Officers' Mess after all.

P.S. To any arrse grammar and spelling bores - rearrange the following phrase. balls suck my.
 
#3
I'm a young guy about to join the army and I have a question about the deplyment issue. There are just under 100,000 in the army at the moment and there are 4500 in Iraq (and I get the impression that Broon wants to withdraw) and 7700 in Afghanistan. That adds up to 12,200. I am wondering therefore about the overstretch issue, this seems to be a 1:10 ratio of deployed to undeployed(but granted some of the undeployed are probably away from kids etc). It seems therefore that the army is not numerically overstretched and yet I keep hearing that the army is overstretched so: Are certain branches of the army overstretched and if
so who are they(numerically not all the army can be overstretched and so who are the overstretched branches)?
 
#5
mm1306 said:
I'm a young guy about to join the army and I have a question about the deplyment issue. There are just under 100,000 in the army at the moment and there are 4500 in Iraq (and I get the impression that Broon wants to withdraw) and 7700 in Afghanistan. That adds up to 12,200. I am wondering therefore about the overstretch issue, this seems to be a 1:10 ratio of deployed to undeployed(but granted some of the undeployed are probably away from kids etc). It seems therefore that the army is not numerically overstretched and yet I keep hearing that the army is overstretched so: Are certain branches of the army overstretched and if
so who are they(numerically not all the army can be overstretched and so who are the overstretched branches)?
Doing some (very) basic maths the 12200 you quoted normally do a 6 month tour therefore 24400 are in sandy places a year so thats 1:4 ratio now take into account all the exercises/courses/leave/pre tour training/resettlement/other deployments (Sierra leone/Belize/UN Cyprus) Then everynow and again get called in to help cover the firemens strike or deal with the floods.
So quite a bit of the army is seen to be overstretched.
 
#6
Surely we should be debating whether a "glass" is a receptical we drink from, or a social Commentary?
 
#7
OK to put it in crude figures 12,200 deployed in the desert, im not sure how many in the balkans so we'll say approximatley 13,000 for a round figure. each tour is six months, so there will be another 13000 troops training to deploy imminantly which means lots of time out of barracks and away from families, not good for pads. And another 13000 who will be expecting a tour in the next 8-12 months....you get the picture. Plus you seem to be assuming that all 100,000 people are fully trained and medically fit to deploy at all times. Yes some jobs get hammered for tours more than others, the infantry immediatley spring to mind the Grenadiers had 4 months between Iraq and Afhgan last year.

I think the ideal tour ratio is one every two years, 6 months on tour, 4-6 months training, 12 months in barracks/courses/leave, but of course its never like that 100% of the time. Plus at the moment we have only one Battle Group available for an emergency? I remember reading that somewhere. In short its not as simple as you think, the senior officers that voice these concerns know what they're talking about, far more than commie journos and lying politicians.

Edited to add

I was still writing this as stacker posted, and he's put it better than me!
 
#8
Covenant is not broken, it is shattered.

Medical discharge in October after an injury received whilst on duty - still waiting for war pension/afcs....

Many things promised, too many to mention here, have not been kept and I do not trust the system as far as I could(n't) throw it.

Don't make me laugh.
 
#9
mm1306 said:
I'm a young guy about to join the army and I have a question about the deplyment issue. There are just under 100,000 in the army at the moment
That probably includes recruits in training, as well as people in their final 12 months of service and downgraded people, on top of the 25,000 on ops/training for ops that others have mentioned.
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#10
asr1 said:
All this "broken covenant" stuff has got me thinking. I get paid well, get enough leave, plenty of adventure training and sport and generally enjoy my life. I don't live in the mess (not enough space, SSSA instead which is closer to work and a lot more pleasant) but the standard of accommodation is very agreeable.

I've done two tours in the last 2 years and found the welfare packages to be well thought out and implemented where the situations allowed... etc etc
So, 'I'm alright Jack' would pretty much sum up your attitude then. Fine.
 
#11
asr1 said:
Comment please. No abuse or ranting - this is the Officers' Mess after all.
P.S. To any arrse grammar and spelling bores - rearrange the following phrase. balls suck my.
Quite.

Do you represent the average? I'd contend you very much dont.
I surmise things have gone reasonably smoothly for you (I'm not suggesting you've had it easy however). Do you think you would feel the same if you had run into difficulties. Would the support still be there?
 
#12
cpunk said:
asr1 said:
All this "broken covenant" stuff has got me thinking. I get paid well, get enough leave, plenty of adventure training and sport and generally enjoy my life. I don't live in the mess (not enough space, SSSA instead which is closer to work and a lot more pleasant) but the standard of accommodation is very agreeable.

I've done two tours in the last 2 years and found the welfare packages to be well thought out and implemented where the situations allowed... etc etc
So, 'I'm alright Jack' would pretty much sum up your attitude then. Fine.
My thoughts entirely cpunk. As a crab in a screened post (not allowed to be deployed) I have a rather comfortable life at present, no staff shortages, comfortable accommodation and a less than stressful job. This does not, however, blinker me from what life is like for a large number of our personnel: JRs accommodation at many units is lamentable, many trades are sending personnel away once every 24 months, MQs are poor quality, veteran care is lamentable and we have been reduced in number by 7,000 in the last 4 years. Oh and my personal bugbear - the entire organisation is run by aircrew officers with less experience of leading ORs than I have.

I may be comfortable, but for that very reason I count myself lucky.
 
#13
OPERATIONAL
Afghanistan: 7,800
Bosnia and Kosovo: 300
Iraq: 4,500
UN missions: 300
NON-OPERATIONAL
Germany: 22,000*
Cyprus: 3,000
South Atlantic Islands: 1,250
Gibraltar: 340
Diego Garcia: 40
Northern Ireland: 5,000

* - Figure includes troops deployed in Iraq
According to the MoD, operational deployments are those announced by the defence secretary in parliament involving commitment to a specific theatre. Non-operational deployments do not involve a fighting role.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4094818.stm
 
#14
While housing may not be up to scratch and the number of operational deployments for the Army and RAF may have increased (haven't really noticed a significant change in the RN), my key concern (admittedly form the cosy confines of an office and a decent cabin in the mess) relating to the covenant and its current status is "medical/welfare" for want of a better term. Admittedly the RN is doing its best to address what we call the "medical margin" but that still doesn't alter the fact that there are no longer any dedicated military hospitals (I can not simply believe that during the current op tempo that they allowed Haslar, a truly splendid hospital, to go) and the fear of being wounded/damaged on duty and then being sent to my local hospital and then consequently discharged due to injury (physical or mental) and having to join the queue at the local NHS hospital (admittedly veterans are meant to get priority) is of some concern.

I don't wish to rehearse old arguments about the provision of dedicated military medical facilities but I do think that the treatment of the wounded (and the compensation they receive and assistance (from the State) that they get after discharge) is probably the bit of the covenant that majority of joe public are aware is slightly threadbare and therefore, tactically, it should be the bit that BAFF focus on perhaps?

As for the glass full/empty argument - the Treasury response is likely to be that the glass is too big!
 
#16
cpunk said:
asr1 said:
All this "broken covenant" stuff has got me thinking. I get paid well, get enough leave, plenty of adventure training and sport and generally enjoy my life. I don't live in the mess (not enough space, SSSA instead which is closer to work and a lot more pleasant) but the standard of accommodation is very agreeable.

I've done two tours in the last 2 years and found the welfare packages to be well thought out and implemented where the situations allowed... etc etc
So, 'I'm alright Jack' would pretty much sum up your attitude then. Fine.
Or a happy and reasonably well satisfied soldier? Isn't this what the army is striving for?

msr
 
#17
msr said:
cpunk said:
asr1 said:
All this "broken covenant" stuff has got me thinking. I get paid well, get enough leave, plenty of adventure training and sport and generally enjoy my life. I don't live in the mess (not enough space, SSSA instead which is closer to work and a lot more pleasant) but the standard of accommodation is very agreeable.

I've done two tours in the last 2 years and found the welfare packages to be well thought out and implemented where the situations allowed... etc etc
So, 'I'm alright Jack' would pretty much sum up your attitude then. Fine.
Or a happy and reasonably well satisfied soldier? Isn't this what the army is striving for?

msr
Does one group of satisfied soldiers mean that we have achieved an unbroken covenant. asr1 is lucky that he is currently sat in a comfortable job that suits him and his circumstances. I would imagine that he is one in a minority that can say they entirely happy with their lot.

Jimima
 
#18
Or alternatively, everyone believed in the wizard of oz, until they saw behind the curtain and found out it was a short fat bald bloke with a tv projector and a wheesy cough.

The anology works with other things as well, say UK Defence Planning Assumptions, or harmony guidlines, or just in time logistics, or better trained better equiped, or the Defence Industrial Strategy (or its second bastard son currently under the working title, "what can we sell to dictators and take in bribes before we need to get fattie gordon to call time on the police investigation, and what do you mean the medicine I sold didn't work?"
 
#19
Well I think the covenant has been broken for a lot longer than most people seem to imagine. It is the operational tempo which exposes that, the fact it was in pieces before hand was occluded by ski-ing, foreign travel and good (i.e. transferable!) training.

From the absolute equivocation over FEPOWs to the Gurkha pensions, from married quarters to military hospitals, successive governments have played fast and loose with the covenant. Lack of investment, indeed in some areas dis-investment, has been allowed to continue unchallenged or at least unchecked for thirty odd years. "We'll get by with whatever we are left" has been the mantra following successive options, defence strategies and doctrinal shifts.

It is now getting harder and harder to achieve, with regular and reserve forces. Frankly we in the Army have it easy compared to what our poor downtrodden nautical and avian friends get. Sea-time has become a joke. My naval friends are become as bank-managers in gold encrusted blue suits, my flying chums are often penguins more than eagles.

Some twenty odd years ago I went to many, many service weddings - a function of my age. Of those married in the mid eighties a substantial number have been divorced because following the drum got too much like hard work. One couple, admittedly he made the mistake of being one of half-a-dozen in his "skill-set", have had 19 postings in 15 years. Or rather he has, Jill gave up after number 14.

So the covenant is broken. Some like the originator of this thread have had a soft or at least bearable go of it (not decrying your two tours mate, good effort indeed). The majority have not, particularly those who do not see being in the Army as some kind of warrior-monk vocation. It isn't new, everyone remembers the strains for example that Grapple put on certain corps - particularly those idle horrors the RE and their oily fingured reprobate colleagues, the REME. However it is really biting all the time and "on the truck, off the truck" is fine for a while but as a way of life it sucks like Jordan (allegedly)!
 

asr1

War Hero
#20
The standard of the kit and equipment I have now is so much better than 10 years ago. The perennial problem of VOR states has rumbled on pretty much unchanged. Manning is tighter than it used to be, generally because we weren't as committed and didn't have as much to do 10 years ago. There is certainly less BS. Training is now geared towards current Ops, which makes it a lot more satisfying than fighting the 3rd shock army.

The accommodation I have lived in has ranged from the very good to the dire, but generally hovers around the "to the necessary standard" mark. The quality of messing has decreased thanks to civilian contracting.

The accommodation article in the Telegraph today doesn't show the full picture. I've lived in some very good grade 4 accommodation which was as desirable as some of the grade 2 I've lived in. Most of the really bad SLA is gone and has been replaced with SLAM (Grade 1). Some remains, which is not acceptable, but it is due for replacement soon.

Where is the "journo" shout when these stories come out? Just because the story favours us it doesn't mean that it is accurate or reflects the truth.
 

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