Time to ditch camp?

Discussion in 'Army Reserve' started by msr, Sep 5, 2006.

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  1. msr

    msr LE

    Given that we are nmow to be jack of all trades and master of none, is it time to ditch annual camp?

  2. How do you achieve proper unit bonding without it... it certainly won't be achieved with 12 days out of camp training. Nor will it's end bring better retention.

    Think long and hard before you despatch it (at your peril) to history.
  3. My unit has a camp ever 3 years. In between everyone is expected to go on Special to arm courses or attachments to Regular Regts. What that means is that the Regt has no sense of identity, commanders at all levels from CO to LCpl don't get the chance to command (for more than a w/e) and it all leads to a greater sense that we are all just individual reinforcements. Other threads have looked at the damage that this is doing to the TA and the individuals it contains.

    I haven't met many people who join any voluntary organisation, of which the TA is just one, who aren't looking for a 'club' or sense of common purpose. Very few are happy soldiering if it’s not with their friends and people of similar vein and it is this which is the basis of the Regimental system. By not having annual camp each year, you are limiting individuals to learning the practicalities of their role, but not giving anyone the experience to practice it in a real time manner.

    Just looking at JOs; No one expects them to know really what they are doing when they come out of RMAS until they have been out doing the job, making the mistakes and listening to their NCOs advice. Annual camp (or deployment) gives them this experience. To do away with the practical aspect of soldiering will make us all less deployable and therefore less valuable to the regular army and could we see the death of the TA as we know it.

    Organising an annual camp is a difficult job, if it is done well. All levels need to be employed fully and throughout the 2 weeks and should never appear to be anything less that well organised. All too often it is idle planning, poor thought and a lack of understanding that leads to a bad camp. Of course, all you need is one bad camp and then numbers start to fall for the next year and then the next. The regular element needs to understand the crucial role they play and that a posting to the TA is not 2 years off (as pointed out by msr's previous posts).

    It is all too easy to train for this war (Iraq, Afghanistan) and not the next (Iran, France?). If we all go down the easier route that the RAC have, which I believe is a massive mistake, we will be found wanting.

    If officers and NCOs are going to lead, they need 2 weeks a year in which to do it and not just learn how to do it on numerous courses from power point presentations.
  4. The_Duke

    The_Duke LE Moderator

    Lose camp at your peril.

    The Bn camp this year is a battle camp, all based around field firing. Considering that the transition to field firing stages will take 3 or 4 days to achieve, how would you propose that TA soldiers progress to field firing over weekends?

    So Pte Bloggs, camp this year is 4 days of static ranges followed by a week of field firing, building up to Pl attacks by day and night, with Sp Wpns. Finished off with 3 glorious days in Arnhem for the commemorations (plus parachuting and drinking). Lots of what you joined to do, plus opportunities to get on the lash with your mates.


    Pte Bloggs, here is the courses book. Pick one (but as a Pte your choices are very limited) and I will bid for you. No guarantee that your bid will be successful, and you will probably spend 2 weeks of your annual leave with a load of stranges that you are unlikley to see again.

    Two weeks continuous training is at the heart of the TA, and should always remain the default setting, altered only for essential courses.
  5. I look at camp as the one time you can put every think you have learnt over the year all into one, and spend two weeks feeling like you are part of the British army. Not to mention the urine ups with the lads and the bonding. I have been lucky the past couple of years that i have been able to do camp aswell as two week courses, but if the camp goes so do I.
  6. I think camp is more important now that we are "jack of all trades". It allows the CofC to test the sustainability of the unit in any given operation/scenario over a prelonger period.

    Lets face it, what we can acheive in a weekend ie over 2-3 days is very different to what we can acheive in 7-10 days. I'm talking about things such as, but not limited to, lack of manpower, leading to lack of sleep etc.

    This is not testable in a weekend exercise in anywhere near the same manner as is possible in a 2 week exercise.

    I also agree with the 'social' aspect of it. It is very important (IMHO) to maintain links with other members of the Regt at least once a year.
  7. Isn't the question dependent on what your camps like? I know my last regiment my troops were desperately trying to find alternate courses, as they expected it to be dire (and they believe it was).

    Two weeks field firing sounds like an excellent way to train and retain, as would two weeks in the field.

    Perhaps it's dependent on your headshed?

    I do wonder, especially given the size of a Battalion these days (about the same number of bayonets as a WW1 era Rifle Company) if it wouldn't be better to have Brigade Camps?
  8. as my granny used to say " be carefull wat you wish for "
  9. Unless of course you want a spellchecker!
  10. Not really, I prefer (in order):

    2 week exercises
    overseas camps
    UK camp

    I think that roughly goes in achievement & enjoyment order. Camps when they are just a collection of weekends don't generate much personal sense of achievement. Long exercises where you know you've/we've achieved a great deal are excellent, e.g. the det that works without orders, the section that gets its drills correct every time, the regt that is working without fault etc.

    I read once where a TA officer in the local rag said, first week is where we iron out drills, the 2nd we just have fun and work as a well drilled machine. So true.
  11. Before wishing for Brigade camps (or Capbadge camps) for anything other than courses camps, I would suggest that the F*** factor would be exponential, with an awful lot of management wanting to play witha very small trainset.

    Nip the problem in the bud and ensure Regt or Bn HQ lay on good camps. When they're not...let it be known. (In the nicest possible way of course :) )

    Camps should build upon each other.... and the first things that should happen is someone pulls the PXR file from the previous year....reads and digests it.
  12. Ah - the wonderful simplicity of it all.

    The TA has changed.


    Get used to it.

    A 'camp' is an anathema to the modern mobilisation culture. The regular Army want IRs, not formed units (however 'bonded' they may be) and if we are to be able to deliver competent, well trained, fit, enthusiastic and available individuals, somethings got to give (unless they are all prepared to do 50 days+).

    More and more courses and functions are now centralised (RTCs, OAR etc) and this is only the beginning. Kit will be cadre'ised, WFM will remove any flexibility and the ongoing cuts in funding will remove 'exciting' opportunities.

    Two weeks away? - I've got better things to do. How long before Bounty is predicated on MATT, Trade, Rank, Operational tour (or the availability to be mobilised - FFM) etc?

    Oh, and by the way, we've sold off most of the training estate and can't afford to maintain that which we've got left. More and more units are returning to UK putting even more pressure on Trg Area availability long term.

    The future is e.learning, cadre's, op tours, centralised trg, regular and TA unit pairing and high turnover.

  13. Who needs a training estate when we have so many sunny foreign places to play? We have now entered a state of continual war and as such there are fantastic opportunities to learn on the job.

    Depressing, isn't it.
  14. [quote="WingletangOh, and by the way, we've sold off most of the training estate .[/quote]

    Have we ? Last time I looked we had actually increased the area available through leasing shedloads more Forestry, taking on Kirkudbright and Cape Wrath etc etc. RAF Tain adds another 3000 acres of potential live-fire trg area - ( Imagine Barry Butlins without the buildings or fixed ranges...)

    We got shot of what - Leek and Macrahanish ? Tregantle and Cultybraggan are both mothballed. ( Shame about Culty - anyone for a management buy-out - rent it to Bad Lads Army ?) Tigh-na-Blair is still being leased but has not been used for over a year.

    We still have Camps with enough beds to accommodate 1/4 of the Army at any one time. The bean-counters are indeed looking at the training estate, the suburban masses of SE England need more housing with associated "recreational land" while not liking the noise of exercises and shooting - and we have Surrey Commons, Barrossa, Hankley Common, Ash and Pirbright etc all begging to be built on . Its up to us to make best use of it. Get out of the classrooms, get crawling through the undergrowth, get shooting - its what the recruits joined for anyway !!
  15. :) Unfair. You can't use it half the year anyway, because you'll scare the sheep (more than the locals) or disturb the grouse shooting.... and of course, it's so easy to get a vehicle on to the area through the farmyard :)

    ...although a good friend did unnerve the sh*t out of his PSI when he took the SF Platoon up there for a live shoot.