First point. Perhaps the problems are your assumptions. This discussion tends to be approached as if you should only change one variable at a time. That's how organisational change tends to happen in practice, largely because it tends to be undirected, but it's not either how you should plan a new system or how to direct change / fix an existing system. In the latter cases, the main concern should be dependencies.I know more than a few senior Officer who are there for 3+ years in position.
And again, drawing on business examples is fine as long as we are completely honest in not comparing apples and apples. It is easy for a non-bottom fed, highly mobile jobs market to sustain both growth in experience (both depth and breadth) in the lower levels of management, whilst also having a head in place for 10+ years. I don't think that is possible in an Armed Force.
Some assumptions here you might consider as mutable rather than fixed are:
- Types of management roles required. i.e. number of officers - for example, is the de facto practice in air forces of pilots being officers necessary or a social hangover...should those officers have management responsibility or is the requirement actually "level headed, responsible individuals who we can trust with £50m of airframe". Is there a real requirement, example two, for the Int Corps to have a disproportionate number of officers when they simultaniously claim that the soldiers do all the intelligence work...does it really require an officer to primarily fill the role of talking to other officers? Do changes in society mean we can re-define the relationship and responsibilities between officers and soldiers?
- Number of management roles required. Are we really increasing proportional numbers of mid-level officers in case, like the Germans, we have to expand quickly? Or is it unplanned bureaucratic bloat, or self-interest that means managers doing the cutting are the last ones cut. If the answer is actually the former, given they are employed as the latter, will the officers we are producing be actually fit for purpose? How many staff support roles are best served by having military officers in them rather than specialist soldiers or civilians? What is the ideal number of officers for the structure we desire? What is the actual number of officers we have? Are they the same?
- Should we be aiming to retain all individuals on a long-term career basis (the current assumption, more based on history than what the current leadership states is the aim), rather than planning to be an organisation with substantial lower-level churn (which is what happens anyway) that aims to select and persuade a small proportion to continue to management level?
- Should the career system have (as at present) both roles and assignment centrally managed, or would it work better (as happens in most other organisations) with roles centrally managed, but assignment decentralised and competitive.
Second point. You're right, it's not comparing apples with apples: some elements of the military system are very different types of fruit. But not, for the most part, the manpower element. Where careers and manpower are concerned, the claim that they aren't apples is largely the military insisting that they are some form of rare cloudberry, when they look, taste, grow, and behave like apples.
I suspect this is one of those things that with you and @Caecilius will fall on deaf ears, but this is absolutely crystal clear once you leave the Forces. The remarkable thing to experience is not that civilians are broadly the same - actually, military / ex-military have a distinct way of thinking. The remarkable thing is seeing how different the military think they are: the abject parochialism and exceptionalism that is displayed by serving military the very second you are no longer wearing a uniform. Given the increasingly contractor / military crossover, in lots of cases this is quite embarassing on their part, and doubly so when they work out that you have the same or more relevant background and experience. I've heard (and experienced) several times the story of this playing out even when it's serving military who the individual served with. It's mostly remarkable for how they don't even seem to realise they are doing it.
This may not apply to the CO of a carrier, who has a role that can legitimately be described as a cloudberry. The point is that the CO of a carrier has spent the vast majority of their career in roles that are apples.
This should be unsurprising, as it's an extension of an effect everyone here recognises: I saw the same effect changing capbadges. Suddenly the previous capbadge behaved as if you couldn't possibly know anything about how they did things, even, in the worse cases, when that individual actually knew you had been their capbadge. It's also the case, obviously, that manpower is the one area where every employee in any organisation has a strong and inherent bias. Service personnel aren't magically exempt from this. This is one (good) reason why lots of organisations hire external consultants for manpower changes, to sidestep that bias.
The revolving door between the public sector, military and civilian contractors has increasingly demonstrated that, for many military roles, the same job can be done with substantially different manpower systems. Many voices have drawn the obvious conclusion that the military career system isn't inherently necessary to these roles. These voices mostly outside the military, but include a substantial proportion of military-linked careers (e.g. Defence academics) and ex-military - exactly the kind of people who various military leaders like Carter and Carleton-Smith have made a point of saying that Defence needs to engage with and listen to for feedback. Yet, on manpower, the response is characteristically to dig in: no, we're an exception. I'd note this is also mirrored here: among the arrserati (or whatever the term is), there's been a long pattern of the ex-serving members in civilian jobs suggesting that the military isn't actually as much of an exception as it thinks it is, while the still-serving ones insist that it is.
This parochialism also happens inside Defence. Between 2010-2014, basically every question about career systems inside the Army was answered by "the NEM is doing that". This particularly applied to people working on FF2020, FR2020 and A2020, who when they questioned career or APC changes as part of the program, got told it was the NEM's responsibility. I worked with someone on the NEM. They were specifically briefed to only look at renumeration, accomodation/geography, TACOS, incentives, etc.* The actual career structures (rank, roles, all the stuff that APC does), they were told, was being dealt with by the SS in projects like FF2020...so the exact opposite of what those working on FF2020 were told. I'm about 50/50 on whether this was intentional (i.e. someone(s) in the Army deliberately briefing different responsibilities to avoid change), or unintentional (i.e. bureaucratic incompetence of one hand not being aware of the other). Either way, the point is the same: in the highest level, most deliberate reviews of the manpower system over the past few decades, nobody formally considered changing the manpower system. Nobody was driving the car.
Manpower remains one of the areas in which Defence and its component parts remains the most intractable or incapable of change, and change is either forced by circumstance ("cut this budget by £Xm") or by external political pressure (falling in line with civilian diversity and gender requirements). Until those inside Defence admit that they are not actually in control, and individual officers are willing to consider that they are unreliable arbiters of this particular problem, then it's never going to change.
* This was anecdotal 5 years ago. It's not now - if you look through the A2020 and NEM papers, there is a glaring black hole where any consideration of the structural career system should be. Neither of them consider it, and various A2020 docs at the time (e.g. https://assets.publishing.service.g...achment_data/file/210470/Cm8655-web_FINAL.pdf 3.6 or https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Army-2020.pdf 2.3 footnoted that it would be considered in the NEM...which, as above, didn't mention it. So if you're inclined to dismiss this, first ask the question: why did the two biggest reviews of Army / Defence manpower of the decade completely fail to consider structural changes to the career system?