The old days

#1
Having retired from the Inf in '86, I have it on extremely good authority ( the barman at the Dog and Duck) that you guys in today have it easy! ( I am bracing myself for the onslaught)

I understand that you can prance around in gym shoes these days, that the CFT standards are down, and county regiments have to take pyjamas into the field to go with their Cocoa ( nothing changed there then). In my day we 'ad it 'ard. CFT's with 58 webbing (still got the scars), SLR's ( mind you, used a grown up's 7.62mm), battle bowlers (useless), and DMS with puttees. Try putting them on in 60 seconds flat after PT!  I did just see the introduction of the SA80, hi-leg combat, and of course, most excitingly, the 'super' sock. Brings tears to my eyes thinking about them (should have seen what we had before).

(Having said that I miss those days, but in my day it was a job for life if you wanted it )  Now come on you new lot, tell me I'm wrong and that I'm an old git. obviously however I am not interested in the opinions of the other arms because they don't count.  

I have paused.
 
#2
having left the infantry in '86 I can only agree with you
 
#3
Signals kit is unchanged but the lack of comms means that we can genuinely claim to exercise mission command because once someone has been given a task there is no way of influencing the situation until they have either succeeded or died.
PCBC has changed.  I regret to report that, in line with the Corps, young officers now proceed direct to Warminster and do not enjoy a period of RD before undertaking PCBC.  The advantage for the management is that students are still in frightened rabbit mode from Sandhurst and are much more suggestible.  From being a relatively civilised course with mature delivery it has become the sort of thing where TEWTs are concluded with a speed march back to camp.  Very Brecon.  This is likely to get worse when PCBC moves to Brecon and the rival instructors on PCBC and SCBC will be able to compete directly.
 
#4
If the course moves to Brecon how will those poor Guards subalterns ever get to London on time for the weekend? Will they introduce a three day week to give them a chance?
 
#5
On my course one Guards officer turned onto the A303 but phoned a friend when he got to Yeovilton asking for directions back to London.  Left or Right?? He did go on to win an MC so it proves that courage and brains can be mutaually exclusive.
 
#6
This is not from Max, I am just using his machine.  Call me FOXHOUND.  Soldiers back in the days of Marlborough, Sir John Moore, Wellington, Kitchener, Haig, Montgomery etc etc etc must have been incredibly hard and incredibly good because every generation of soldiers thinks that "when I was in" or "when I did that" it was much harder than it is now and they were much better.   Warrant officers, for example, who are now telling everyone who will stay awake long enough to listen that recruits coming in now are "weak", "crap", "not up to it" etc, had exactly the same things said about them by warrant officers 20 years ago.  Having said that, I am sure that the man who left the Army in 1986 is much better and had it much harder than all of us who are slogging on today.  I hope that I am still serving in 16 years time, because it is going to be a real doddle then - I expect we will be paying the Army to let us come and sit around the luxury barrack blocks and messes.
 
#7
Foxhound

At last , someone who has addressed my question. I posed it provacatively to try and get some discussion going, and I'm surprised no one has yet said F-off! Mind you, I do notice that no one has owned up to being in a County regiment.

Do the woodentops still take the regimental silver into the field? I've actually seen it happen once in Germany(admittedly donkey walloper wooden tops).  Nothing like baiting the green wellie brigade!
 
#9
Well, Piggy, thank you for your kind thoughts. From your username I only presume you are in the military police. I suggest you make yourself useful and go and check some poor buggers papers.
 
#10
Dear sad_and Old

What on earth makes you think that a monkey would be interested in reading the drivel that comes forth from your informed and up to date opinions of matters infantry.  Unfortunately 1986 was the year after I left school, I then became one of gods own combat team 2 years later.  Sad thing is, I still am, and just want my pension point to arrive in order to become a civy and write bollocks like you about how the Army isn't what It was like when I was young.  Anyway I look forward to reading some of your interesting, controversial  and stimulating etchings upon these pages.  Who knows it could be the beginings of a long and fruitfull corespondance?

Love Piggy.  Onik! Oink!
 
#11
Well piggy, you should know from earlier postings that I aimed to be controversial to get the thing going. Seems like the mission was successful!!

Now, there's an illegally parked car outside the guardroom. make yourself useful and take that Man's number!!
 
#12
Gotcha!  

At least you seem to be realiastic as to what is or was.  Being at JSCS at the moment we are bombarded by senior officers so far removed form reality it is quite laughable.  Yesterday we attended a presentation about the Army in 2015.  It seems that the average pte soldier will require a Masters degree in computing to operate the 'eqpt' he is going to get.  How realistic is it that each soldier will carry such stuff as to communicate direct to the Div comd.  What bollocks.  Did you attend any breifings as to what the army would be like in 2002 back in the good old days when all you needed was long legs and hard feet?  If so was it as far fetched, and did you all think the tank was going to be redundant by now and we would all be able to communicate using data, and that all our soldiers would be literate?!!
 
#13
Yes, it's certainly fair to say that in the infantry then we had no need to be rocket scientists. Mapco, gridex, then batco was as hard as it got (thank god). I suspect the modern soldier needs to have other skills than just the obvious physical ones. You could probably argue that in a smaller army, they can be more selective, although they do seem to struggle to recruit now.

We were told that the tank would make way for the helicopter, that it would be an all mechanised army (perhaps it is?, although this never interested me), and of course we should prepare for 'der tag' when the soviets were due to role across the border.

Of course, we could load and fire 5 rounds a minute from our brown bess muskets! The firepower you have today is obviously far greater,  but I still think the 7.62mm is king.

A different army for a different time, I suppose, but I guess the basic requirements must be the same.  As an old codger I have no idea what JSCS is, but good luck with it anyway.

On another subject, and not as a windup, I still like to keep fit,  and would like to know the requirements of the modern CFT. From memory, it used to be 8 miles, with full belt order and platoon weapons. I seem to remember that we had to do it in 1hr 40 mins, but I think the actual max time was 2hrs.
 
#14
Same distance, same time, same kit.  Although now you have to do what are know as representative tests at the end.  Inf do things like fire man's lift, run 200m in a certain time, but having to throw yourselves on the floor every 10 m or so, as the PTIs shout  UP and DOWN. Some things don't change. Each Corps tasks are different, Air defenders for example have to load 4 missiles into HVM.

In addition to the above The other Physical tests we do are Basic personal Fittness assessment evry 6 months (Army wide) used to be BFT but now includes sit ups and press ups, and run in trainers not boots.

Specific to inf which we must do each of these once a year

1.    INF CFT 20km first day in 4 hours with 30KG, then 20KM next day in 4 hours with 15 KG,(boring but youngsters tend to find hard)
2.    2 mile Inf cft 15 KG in 18 minutes (bastard)
3.    Fire team assesment, done for all Inf men in rifle and sp coys - CFT(normal) then a shoot which you must pass involves tgts a 600m to 300m, done a bit like the sect shoot at Skill at Arms meetings.

Not so puffy as you thought, or is it?  I suppose we have a helmet with padding rather than a nail to balance it on your head.  But apart from that it's pretty much the same.
 
#15
As a non-infantry type all I would like to say is more power to your elbow.

Having picked up lots of you guys in wet cold fields in the emerald toilet when you are soaked to the skin,freezing, knackered and you can still smile as you dive in the back then you get my vote.

By the way,next time you are across the water staring at the Lynx that is circling the hedgerow you are hiding in remember that the CAMOUFLAGE clothing that you are wearing is quite bloody effective and we cant see you,even from 150 overhead,especially if you are wet.
 
#16
Swift,

Having joined the Army 3 years after you left I don't feel like I can comment on your good ol' days however plenty of the lads in basic training had no such problems. I will say, having gone back to training regiments as a platoon commander, spoken and interacted with new recruits I must admit that YES things are easier than when I went through. The difference is that their upbringing is different. Easy for us may be hard for them because they are not used to it. It is all relative. If I DIDN'T get shouted at I though I was in trouble. A dig in the ribs was a good reminder not to do it again or get it right next time. Now apart from the obvious charge that would follow a new recruit is likely to start crying, as they were never given a smack or discipline at home. It doesn't mean they'll make bad soldiers when the time comes. The same was said by all the Korean Vets about the Army being ‘soft’ before the Falklands Campaign but look at how the kids performed over there in some very bad situations. Junior commanders and private soldiers proved that in the end the British Spirit is what counts and when the chips are down our soldiers know and do their job

I might sound like a crusty LE but i'm not. An LE that is.
 
#17
I must say I don't like the sound of the 2 miles in 18 minutes with 15kgs and other kit. It would have been impossible in the old battle bowlers, and whoever designed them certainly wasn't in the infantry.

Major beasting, and occasional bullying was a part of recruit training, certainly in the early to middle 80's. It did get rid of the lightweights and wasters very quickly, but even at the time some of it seemed a bit OTT. Perhaps it's now gone too far the other way.

Anyway, hats off to all you infantry guys, and remember that pulling stag at 3am on a cold winters morning makes it all worthwhile!!  
 
#18
Couldn't agree more with dogmonkey about the whole thingymeasuring thing among Coy Comds - I've been 2IC to five of the buggers, and it's quite alarming how much one has to restrain them on some occasions.  Training in pretty much any area needs to be progressive if it is to be of any use, so obviously it's possibble to go straight into ACFT 1 or 2 and expect everyone to pass it... ???  If you've read my rantings on the Recruit Training board, you'll know how reasonable an expectation that is of your new blokes.

Swift and Old, was it always thus?  I'll have to wait a while for an answer - I'm off on business for three weeks tomorrow, restraining (or is that re-training?) my boss...
 
#19
I don't remember much willy waving going on in the OC department. Then again, I was somewhat removed from that. My platoon was nearly always commanded by  sergeants ( spot of luck that), and they had the experience, on the whole, to keep us out of the political nonsense. I do seem to remember an ongoing CO's competition to wear the most outrageous wellies on exercises. Obviously only open to Lt. Col's and above.
 
#20
Brothers.
Compare the standards of basic fieldcraft (personal cam, marching, digging big holes and shooting straight) of todays infantry with that of the mid 80s. I think this is where we will see corporate skill fade. The lessons of the Falklands (basic battle skills and good junior leadership wins battles) have been diluted by the very good luck (and it is only luck) that we've experienced from the Gulf War to Kosovo with low rate enemies who have participated to a far lesser extent than the 5th Argentine Marine Regiment - all credit to the people who have been involved in hairy contacts since then. Every time we pull off an operation in spite of rather than because of the state of our comms/small arms/recruit training etc, another layer of complacency is added to our concept of what is an acceptable level of training. In the Falklands War every private soldier could insert an IV line and radio a fire mission (if veterans anecdotes are to be believed, and why shouldn't they be?). How close are we to this today. If (as any AJD student will tell you) you approach a Red Tab with this kind of thing, they will chuckle indulgently and reassure you, in best Staff College waffle, that we will have months to 'ramp up' our training as we go into the Transition to War phase. Just like the Gulf. I'm not convinced that a cunning, assymetric and possibly better armed (at sub unit level anyway) enemy will afford us that luxury when the our next intervention gets hairy.
And if you find yourself riding through green fields with the sunlight on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium - and you're already Dead!
 

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