What systemic issues would you change in the MOD or in the single Services?

D

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Contractorisation of airfield communications to Babcock. I have no doubt they’ll do a good job, the but is that the contract doesn’t include embedded military support so MOD will lose the SQEP almost overnight.
Thanks. I can see a slight expeditionary flaw to this proposal....
 
I'm not qualified to comment on ranks, but from an infrastructure point of view:

Bring back PSA.
Stop relying on Aimless / Crapita / Interserve / Serco / Babcock etc

Stop trying to bugger external contractors about e.g. competitive tendering for jobs of less than £5k is a stupid waste of time and resources and ultimately puts the price up. This sort of thing is used by RPCs to make it look like they are saving money whilst justifying their own existence.

Learn how to write a proper commercial contract and enforce it. Having 6 different contractors on site doing bits and bobs is inefficient. E.g. property maintenance done by Amey, fuels done by Serco, cleaning done by ISS, food done by Sodexo etc etc.

At least 3 sites I know of have more than 6 term contractors on site with overlapping responsibilities, and some areas that are not properly defined. It's like a Venn diagram with holes in it.

And breathe....
You want to stop relying on contractors then you want to stop buggering them about? You want a big Prime instead of lots of subs?

The MOD’s biggest contracting problem is that it can’t square the need for coherence with the perceived need for competition, diversification and the avoidance of monopolies.
 
Are you objecting to the claim, the description or the fact? Surely you must be aware that these setups exist?
I've no doubt such setups exist in the Army. It just baffles my mind that they're allowed to.

I can't think of an equivalent in the RN.
 
@Caecilius ref your point 2 :
2. Get rid of the one-size-fits-all officer career structure. If people want to stay in a specialist role eg. procurement for their career then let them, and compensate them appropriately. Use KSE as the driving factor for appointments rather than ill-defined 'quality'.

I was a fairly well (home office) trained specialist. I suggested exactly this idea to my then 1 * at a fireside chat while on a long cse. He looked at me like id just shagged his mother and clearly could not understand why this might be a good idea. They then sent me to a great but generic E2 job......
And not just for officer's either.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I've no doubt such setups exist in the Army. It just baffles my mind that they're allowed to.

I can't think of an equivalent in the RN.
There's a reason, although it's one of those cases where the cure is worse than the illness. Widespread Bn formation in the Corps happened circa 2000.* Prior to that their respective sections or close support (CS) were attached directly to the units they supported. This left few Corps SO2 or SO1 command posts, they were largely staff only. Since the MS system has no concept of specialisms, and is wedded to "command" as the ultimate good, Corps officers therefore complained that they were under-represented at OF5 and above, and that this was bad for the Army (partially true).

The sensible solution to this would be: reform MS. Instead, someone(s) decided to pretend that the Corps were structured like infantry battalions, and gave them the establishment to match, creating a lot of Corps Bns (Corps Units). This created lots of OC and CO jobs as E1 Corps jobs, guaranteeing them a route to OF5. It also created endless contradictions in the actual Army structure. Fitter sections, J2 cells, RE CS (Corps Sub-Units) and so on still needed to be directly attached to and co-located with the units they served (Combat Units). So a variety of different ways round this problem sprung up, but the results are almost always the same:
  • Theoretically this could be solved by command states. I've never met a junior officer, over at least 4 different Corps, in these situations who knew exactly what their command state was. Several of them (including myself) had asked, and gotten no answer. It's a good way to mark yourself as "difficult" though: asking a question ("what is my command state and to whom") which Sandhurst suggests is one of the first responsibilities of a decent officer, and is effectively Q2 of the 7 Questions.
  • Tasking from the Combat Unit to Corps Sub-Units happens de facto directly, but de jure is meant to go through the Corps Unit ops cell. This creates duplication, muddies who is actually giving orders, slows official tasking, bloats the Corps Units, etc.
  • The Combat Units are, however, happy to divest the MS burden of their attached Corps Sub-Units. So reporting is done by the Corps Unit, who aren't co-located with the individuals, don't task them, and only see them rarely. It's entirely unusual for 2ROs to only ever see individuals they report on for a few minutes once or twice a year.
  • Additionally, the Corps Units (having no actual role) tend to create nugatory activity: parades, study days, show days, dinner nights, whatever. These are implicitly or formally Scale A for the Sub-Units. They often end up conflicting with actual tasks from the Combat Unit. Therefore those in the Sub-Units have to resolve that, pissing off one of the two in the process.
Experiences may vary, but again having talked to a lot of officers and WOs from different Corps, the very common experience is that the de facto responsibility for solving all of the above contradictions usually falls on the junior commanders: section commanders at 2Lt-Capt, SSgt-WOs. If they are lucky, they will have a decent Coy (within the Corps unit structure) above them that acts as a degree of shitshield, advice and makes it their job to sort out the above. If they are not lucky, the Coy structure adds another level of nugatory bullshit.

These experiences are widespread through, at a minimum, the Int Corps, REME, RE, RAMC, RMP, all those with directly attached elements below Bn level. The Signals and the RLC partially avoid it through sheer mass, which means the Corps Unit itself is co-located with a supported Combat Bde, rationalising the problems somewhat. But this is what most Corps officers / seniors live for their first 6-8 years or OR7+ posts. This is also why, if you ask, all Corps junior officers, they always want to be posted to Defence or specialist posts, as possible for their capbadge: it's not just the appeal of shiny things, it's escaping the morass that their own capabadge Bns create.

So I'd note three things about this:
  1. This is why I say MS is the root of all evil in the Army - because it is. The unwillingness to change a broken career system, even a little, creates infinite branches of stupidity, some, like this one, with huge consequences. Also, note how this entire change came about in order to provide a career path for certain officers past Lt Col. At what level of organisational impact does creating jobs for a few officers stop being just stupid, and start being corruption?
  2. This is a crystal-clear, doctrinal failure of command at a massive scale: somewhere around 50% of the Army. But it's totally normal, accepted, and as I said, questioning it likely marks you as being a bit difficult. It's also a failure of leadership: try convincing most Corps junior officers (you know, all the specialist ones who we want, who leave - not coincidental) that their superiors are "leaders", when they spend their first 6 years watching their OCs and COs shirk fundamental leadership duties.
  3. What effect does this have on the officer cadre of half the Army? They learn, very quickly, that these key theoretical elements - how they are taught the Army, command, leadership should operate - are just not true in practice ... and nobody questions it. I think this is why you see noticable differences in attitude to the formal Army structure in combat arms and Corps. Combat arms officers believe in it, because for them, it broadly works as promised. For Corps officers, it's very, very clearly either broken or deeply hypocritical.
In sum, this is desperately damaging to the Army, both conceptually and morally, in ways it's impossible to fully predict. All so we can have some generals from non-combat arm capbadges without reforming the career system.

Hands up anyone who thinks its worth it.

* Not in all Corps at that exact time, see posts below.
 
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what in the actual fcuk.

that is mental.
 
There's a reason, although it's one of those cases where the cure is worse than the illness. Widespread Bn formation in the Corps happened circa 2000. Prior to that their respective sections or close support (CS) were attached directly to the units they supported. This left few Corps SO2 or SO1 command posts, they were largely staff only. Since the MS system has no concept of specialisms, and is wedded to "command" as the ultimate good, Corps officers therefore complained that they were under-represented at OF5 and above, and that this was bad for the Army (partially true).

The sensible solution to this would be: reform MS. Instead, someone(s) decided to pretend that the Corps were structured like infantry battalions, and gave them the establishment to match, creating a lot of Corps Bns (Corps Units). This created lots of OC and CO jobs as E1 Corps jobs, guaranteeing them a route to OF5. It also created endless contradictions in the actual Army structure. Fitter sections, J2 cells, RE CS (Corps Sub-Units) and so on still needed to be directly attached to and co-located with the units they served (Combat Units). So a variety of different ways round this problem sprung up, but the results are almost always the same:
  • Theoretically this could be solved by command states. I've never met a junior officer, over at least 4 different Corps, in these situations who knew exactly what their command state was. Several of them (including myself) had asked, and gotten no answer. It's a good way to mark yourself as "difficult" though: asking a question ("what is my command state and to whom") which Sandhurst suggests is one of the first responsibilities of a decent officer, and is effectively Q2 of the 7 Questions.
  • Tasking from the Combat Unit to Corps Sub-Units happens de facto directly, but de jure is meant to go through the Corps Unit ops cell. This creates duplication, muddies who is actually giving orders, slows official tasking, bloats the Corps Units, etc.
  • The Combat Units are, however, happy to divest the MS burden of their attached Corps Sub-Units. So reporting is done by the Corps Unit, who aren't co-located with the individuals, don't task them, and only see them rarely. It's entirely unusual for 2ROs to only ever see individuals they report on for a few minutes once or twice a year.
  • Additionally, the Corps Units (having no actual role) tend to create nugatory activity: parades, study days, show days, dinner nights, whatever. These are implicitly or formally Scale A for the Sub-Units. They often end up conflicting with actual tasks from the Combat Unit. Therefore those in the Sub-Units have to resolve that, pissing off one of the two in the process.
Experiences may vary, but again having talked to a lot of officers and WOs from different Corps, the very common experience is that the de facto responsibility for solving all of the above contradictions usually falls on the junior commanders: section commanders at 2Lt-Capt, SSgt-WOs. If they are lucky, they will have a decent Coy (within the Corps unit structure) above them that acts as a degree of shitshield, advice and makes it their job to sort out the above. If they are not lucky, the Coy structure adds another level of nugatory bullshit.

These experiences are widespread through, at a minimum, the Int Corps, REME, RE, RAMC, RMP, all those with directly attached elements below Bn level. The Signals and the RLC partially avoid it through sheer mass, which means the Corps Unit itself is co-located with a supported Combat Bde, rationalising the problems somewhat. But this is what most Corps officers / seniors live for their first 6-8 years or OR7+ posts. This is also why, if you ask, all Corps junior officers, they always want to be posted to Defence or specialist posts, as possible for their capbadge: it's not just the appeal of shiny things, it's escaping the morass that their own capabadge Bns create.

So I'd note three things about this:
  1. This is why I say MS is the root of all evil in the Army - because it is. The unwillingness to change a broken career system, even a little, creates infinite branches of stupidity, some, like this one, with huge consequences. Also, note how this entire change came about in order to provide a career path for certain officers past Lt Col. At what level of organisational impact does creating jobs for a few officers stop being just stupid, and start being corruption?
  2. This is a crystal-clear, doctrinal failure of command at a massive scale: somewhere around 50% of the Army. But it's totally normal, accepted, and as I said, questioning it likely marks you as being a bit difficult. It's also a failure of leadership: try convincing most Corps junior officers (you know, all the specialist ones who we want, who leave - not coincidental) that their superiors are "leaders", when they spend their first 6 years watching their OCs and COs shirk fundamental leadership duties.
  3. What effect does this have on the officer cadre of half the Army? They learn, very quickly, that these key theoretical elements - how they are taught the Army, command, leadership should operate - are just not true in practice ... and nobody questions it. I think this is why you see noticable differences in attitude to the formal Army structure in combat arms and Corps. Combat arms officers believe in it, because for them, it broadly works as promised. For Corps officers, it's very, very clearly either broken or deeply hypocritical.
In sum, this is desperately damaging to the Army, both conceptually and morally, in ways it's impossible to fully predict. All so we can have some generals from non-combat arm capbadges without reforming the career system.

Hands up anyone who thinks its worth it.
As an ex-member of the RMP I completely agree with what you say. The RMP RHQ level of command adds no value whatsoever and smacks of jobs for 'the (commissioned) boys [and girls]'. As an aside, I completed several tours down to the Balkans within an RMP CS coy working directly for our Bde with no dramas whatsoever and not an RMP Lt-Col in sight because he was back in Herford!! For what it's worth, the RMP as a whole are now organised as 1 RMP Bde, so the process seems to be filtering upwards!!
 
There's a reason, although it's one of those cases where the cure is worse than the illness. Widespread Bn formation in the Corps happened circa 2000. Prior to that their respective sections or close support (CS) were attached directly to the units they supported. This left few Corps SO2 or SO1 command posts, they were largely staff only. Since the MS system has no concept of specialisms, and is wedded to "command" as the ultimate good, Corps officers therefore complained that they were under-represented at OF5 and above, and that this was bad for the Army (partially true).

The sensible solution to this would be: reform MS. Instead, someone(s) decided to pretend that the Corps were structured like infantry battalions, and gave them the establishment to match, creating a lot of Corps Bns (Corps Units). This created lots of OC and CO jobs as E1 Corps jobs, guaranteeing them a route to OF5. It also created endless contradictions in the actual Army structure. Fitter sections, J2 cells, RE CS (Corps Sub-Units) and so on still needed to be directly attached to and co-located with the units they served (Combat Units). So a variety of different ways round this problem sprung up, but the results are almost always the same:
  • Theoretically this could be solved by command states. I've never met a junior officer, over at least 4 different Corps, in these situations who knew exactly what their command state was. Several of them (including myself) had asked, and gotten no answer. It's a good way to mark yourself as "difficult" though: asking a question ("what is my command state and to whom") which Sandhurst suggests is one of the first responsibilities of a decent officer, and is effectively Q2 of the 7 Questions.
  • Tasking from the Combat Unit to Corps Sub-Units happens de facto directly, but de jure is meant to go through the Corps Unit ops cell. This creates duplication, muddies who is actually giving orders, slows official tasking, bloats the Corps Units, etc.
  • The Combat Units are, however, happy to divest the MS burden of their attached Corps Sub-Units. So reporting is done by the Corps Unit, who aren't co-located with the individuals, don't task them, and only see them rarely. It's entirely unusual for 2ROs to only ever see individuals they report on for a few minutes once or twice a year.
  • Additionally, the Corps Units (having no actual role) tend to create nugatory activity: parades, study days, show days, dinner nights, whatever. These are implicitly or formally Scale A for the Sub-Units. They often end up conflicting with actual tasks from the Combat Unit. Therefore those in the Sub-Units have to resolve that, pissing off one of the two in the process.
Experiences may vary, but again having talked to a lot of officers and WOs from different Corps, the very common experience is that the de facto responsibility for solving all of the above contradictions usually falls on the junior commanders: section commanders at 2Lt-Capt, SSgt-WOs. If they are lucky, they will have a decent Coy (within the Corps unit structure) above them that acts as a degree of shitshield, advice and makes it their job to sort out the above. If they are not lucky, the Coy structure adds another level of nugatory bullshit.

These experiences are widespread through, at a minimum, the Int Corps, REME, RE, RAMC, RMP, all those with directly attached elements below Bn level. The Signals and the RLC partially avoid it through sheer mass, which means the Corps Unit itself is co-located with a supported Combat Bde, rationalising the problems somewhat. But this is what most Corps officers / seniors live for their first 6-8 years or OR7+ posts. This is also why, if you ask, all Corps junior officers, they always want to be posted to Defence or specialist posts, as possible for their capbadge: it's not just the appeal of shiny things, it's escaping the morass that their own capabadge Bns create.

So I'd note three things about this:
  1. This is why I say MS is the root of all evil in the Army - because it is. The unwillingness to change a broken career system, even a little, creates infinite branches of stupidity, some, like this one, with huge consequences. Also, note how this entire change came about in order to provide a career path for certain officers past Lt Col. At what level of organisational impact does creating jobs for a few officers stop being just stupid, and start being corruption?
  2. This is a crystal-clear, doctrinal failure of command at a massive scale: somewhere around 50% of the Army. But it's totally normal, accepted, and as I said, questioning it likely marks you as being a bit difficult. It's also a failure of leadership: try convincing most Corps junior officers (you know, all the specialist ones who we want, who leave - not coincidental) that their superiors are "leaders", when they spend their first 6 years watching their OCs and COs shirk fundamental leadership duties.
  3. What effect does this have on the officer cadre of half the Army? They learn, very quickly, that these key theoretical elements - how they are taught the Army, command, leadership should operate - are just not true in practice ... and nobody questions it. I think this is why you see noticable differences in attitude to the formal Army structure in combat arms and Corps. Combat arms officers believe in it, because for them, it broadly works as promised. For Corps officers, it's very, very clearly either broken or deeply hypocritical.
In sum, this is desperately damaging to the Army, both conceptually and morally, in ways it's impossible to fully predict. All so we can have some generals from non-combat arm capbadges without reforming the career system.

Hands up anyone who thinks its worth it.
by the end of this post, the voice in which I read it in my head, and the face that the voice was coming out of, had bounced between nearly double figures of my corps friends and acquaintances. By the end they were preaching together as a choir.

Apart from needing to reduce my meds I think that's a symptom of a nail being struck very firmly on the head.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
One of my old SO1's did very well out of it though. He had started out in the REME and went back to command an AR REME Bn.
Just gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling that it's all worth it, doesn't it?
 

MrBane

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Reviews Editor
I’m now working on a little academic project on Defence Transformation and engagement of our personnel. I have my own ideas of systemic faults that I think should be addressed.

I’d welcome comments (pm if you prefer) of things that you feel could be addressed to make the Forces more efficient and more effective given the challenging fiscal environment and strategic setting.
I think there's a dead simple way to save tons of dosh.

Ask your soldiers first, before you spend a single penny on something, as to whether it's needed or not and if what's in mind is the right idea.

**** the trials and development units, go to the proper troops not under a thumb or agenda and ask them.

I can think of lots of items I was issued with over the years that were not needed, never used and shite.
 

Dumb1

Old-Salt
I’m now working on a little academic project on Defence Transformation and engagement of our personnel. I have my own ideas of systemic faults that I think should be addressed.

I’d welcome comments (pm if you prefer) of things that you feel could be addressed to make the Forces more efficient and more effective given the challenging fiscal environment and strategic setting.
It's an interesting subject, transformation. Lots of comments so far seem to centre on procurement reform.

I wonder if there is a sweet irony in the Department appointing Lord Levene to head its Transformation efforts, given he is largely responsible for the ingrained system that provided lightbulbs costing hundreds?
 
I think there's a dead simple way to save tons of dosh.

Ask your soldiers first, before you spend a single penny on something, as to whether it's needed or not and if what's in mind is the right idea.

**** the trials and development units, go to the proper troops not under a thumb or agenda and ask them.

I can think of lots of items I was issued with over the years that were not needed, never used and shite.
I see a flaw in your proposal. How do you give soldiers something the need but don’t want or understand the benefit of?
 
There's a reason, although it's one of those cases where the cure is worse than the illness. Widespread Bn formation in the Corps happened circa 2000. Prior to that their respective sections or close support (CS) were attached directly to the units they supported. This left few Corps SO2 or SO1 command posts, they were largely staff only. Since the MS system has no concept of specialisms, and is wedded to "command" as the ultimate good, Corps officers therefore complained that they were under-represented at OF5 and above, and that this was bad for the Army (partially true).

The sensible solution to this would be: reform MS. Instead, someone(s) decided to pretend that the Corps were structured like infantry battalions, and gave them the establishment to match, creating a lot of Corps Bns (Corps Units). This created lots of OC and CO jobs as E1 Corps jobs, guaranteeing them a route to OF5. It also created endless contradictions in the actual Army structure. Fitter sections, J2 cells, RE CS (Corps Sub-Units) and so on still needed to be directly attached to and co-located with the units they served (Combat Units). So a variety of different ways round this problem sprung up, but the results are almost always the same:
  • Theoretically this could be solved by command states. I've never met a junior officer, over at least 4 different Corps, in these situations who knew exactly what their command state was. Several of them (including myself) had asked, and gotten no answer. It's a good way to mark yourself as "difficult" though: asking a question ("what is my command state and to whom") which Sandhurst suggests is one of the first responsibilities of a decent officer, and is effectively Q2 of the 7 Questions.
  • Tasking from the Combat Unit to Corps Sub-Units happens de facto directly, but de jure is meant to go through the Corps Unit ops cell. This creates duplication, muddies who is actually giving orders, slows official tasking, bloats the Corps Units, etc.
  • The Combat Units are, however, happy to divest the MS burden of their attached Corps Sub-Units. So reporting is done by the Corps Unit, who aren't co-located with the individuals, don't task them, and only see them rarely. It's entirely unusual for 2ROs to only ever see individuals they report on for a few minutes once or twice a year.
  • Additionally, the Corps Units (having no actual role) tend to create nugatory activity: parades, study days, show days, dinner nights, whatever. These are implicitly or formally Scale A for the Sub-Units. They often end up conflicting with actual tasks from the Combat Unit. Therefore those in the Sub-Units have to resolve that, pissing off one of the two in the process.
Experiences may vary, but again having talked to a lot of officers and WOs from different Corps, the very common experience is that the de facto responsibility for solving all of the above contradictions usually falls on the junior commanders: section commanders at 2Lt-Capt, SSgt-WOs. If they are lucky, they will have a decent Coy (within the Corps unit structure) above them that acts as a degree of shitshield, advice and makes it their job to sort out the above. If they are not lucky, the Coy structure adds another level of nugatory bullshit.

These experiences are widespread through, at a minimum, the Int Corps, REME, RE, RAMC, RMP, all those with directly attached elements below Bn level. The Signals and the RLC partially avoid it through sheer mass, which means the Corps Unit itself is co-located with a supported Combat Bde, rationalising the problems somewhat. But this is what most Corps officers / seniors live for their first 6-8 years or OR7+ posts. This is also why, if you ask, all Corps junior officers, they always want to be posted to Defence or specialist posts, as possible for their capbadge: it's not just the appeal of shiny things, it's escaping the morass that their own capabadge Bns create.

So I'd note three things about this:
  1. This is why I say MS is the root of all evil in the Army - because it is. The unwillingness to change a broken career system, even a little, creates infinite branches of stupidity, some, like this one, with huge consequences. Also, note how this entire change came about in order to provide a career path for certain officers past Lt Col. At what level of organisational impact does creating jobs for a few officers stop being just stupid, and start being corruption?
  2. This is a crystal-clear, doctrinal failure of command at a massive scale: somewhere around 50% of the Army. But it's totally normal, accepted, and as I said, questioning it likely marks you as being a bit difficult. It's also a failure of leadership: try convincing most Corps junior officers (you know, all the specialist ones who we want, who leave - not coincidental) that their superiors are "leaders", when they spend their first 6 years watching their OCs and COs shirk fundamental leadership duties.
  3. What effect does this have on the officer cadre of half the Army? They learn, very quickly, that these key theoretical elements - how they are taught the Army, command, leadership should operate - are just not true in practice ... and nobody questions it. I think this is why you see noticable differences in attitude to the formal Army structure in combat arms and Corps. Combat arms officers believe in it, because for them, it broadly works as promised. For Corps officers, it's very, very clearly either broken or deeply hypocritical.
In sum, this is desperately damaging to the Army, both conceptually and morally, in ways it's impossible to fully predict. All so we can have some generals from non-combat arm capbadges without reforming the career system.

Hands up anyone who thinks its worth it.
That’s simply wrong about Sappers who have always had a regimental structure, albeit it was called Company and CRE until the 50s. Sappers are also rarely “directly attached” to units below Bn.

Unlike support arms, the RE regimental structure commands on operations. There are plenty of recent examples of engineer regiments and squadrons carrying out tasks commanded at those levels.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
That’s simply wrong about Sappers who have always had a regimental structure, albeit it was called Company and CRE until the 50s. Sappers are also rarely “directly attached” to units below Bn.

Unlike support arms, the RE regimental structure commands on operations. There are plenty of recent examples of engineer regiments and squadrons carrying out tasks commanded at those levels.
That's curious, because I know several RE officers who have related exactly the same effects I describe above. I know that RE Engr Regts are more self-contained than most (a bit like the Signals / RLC), but I thought that significant numbers of their component Sqns are still detached to different locations? Certainly their websites suggest that.

Happy to take correction about the dates though. I know there was a wave of Battalionisation ~2000 (I presume as a result of either the 1998 SDR, or even the last movements of Options for Change) which included the Int Corps, REME and, I think, RMP. But one of the things I've noticed over time, is that detailed information about previous structural reforms in the Army seems to be dropped down the memory hole. Not even spotter type websites or regimental museums seem to include reorganisation information, unless like OFC it meant emalgamations or disbandment.

Makes learning from your history or tracking down systemic issues almost impossible. Probably unintentionally. It also has the effect of retconning all current structures so that, to new entrants, they look like they have always been that way: not a change that is less than a decade or two old, and therefore an idea that might reasonably be reconsidered.
 
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Majorpain

War Hero
There's a reason, although it's one of those cases where the cure is worse than the illness. Widespread Bn formation in the Corps happened circa 2000.* Prior to that their respective sections or close support (CS) were attached directly to the units they supported. This left few Corps SO2 or SO1 command posts, they were largely staff only. Since the MS system has no concept of specialisms, and is wedded to "command" as the ultimate good, Corps officers therefore complained that they were under-represented at OF5 and above, and that this was bad for the Army (partially true).

The sensible solution to this would be: reform MS. Instead, someone(s) decided to pretend that the Corps were structured like infantry battalions, and gave them the establishment to match, creating a lot of Corps Bns (Corps Units). This created lots of OC and CO jobs as E1 Corps jobs, guaranteeing them a route to OF5. It also created endless contradictions in the actual Army structure. Fitter sections, J2 cells, RE CS (Corps Sub-Units) and so on still needed to be directly attached to and co-located with the units they served (Combat Units). So a variety of different ways round this problem sprung up, but the results are almost always the same:
  • Theoretically this could be solved by command states. I've never met a junior officer, over at least 4 different Corps, in these situations who knew exactly what their command state was. Several of them (including myself) had asked, and gotten no answer. It's a good way to mark yourself as "difficult" though: asking a question ("what is my command state and to whom") which Sandhurst suggests is one of the first responsibilities of a decent officer, and is effectively Q2 of the 7 Questions.
  • Tasking from the Combat Unit to Corps Sub-Units happens de facto directly, but de jure is meant to go through the Corps Unit ops cell. This creates duplication, muddies who is actually giving orders, slows official tasking, bloats the Corps Units, etc.
  • The Combat Units are, however, happy to divest the MS burden of their attached Corps Sub-Units. So reporting is done by the Corps Unit, who aren't co-located with the individuals, don't task them, and only see them rarely. It's entirely unusual for 2ROs to only ever see individuals they report on for a few minutes once or twice a year.
  • Additionally, the Corps Units (having no actual role) tend to create nugatory activity: parades, study days, show days, dinner nights, whatever. These are implicitly or formally Scale A for the Sub-Units. They often end up conflicting with actual tasks from the Combat Unit. Therefore those in the Sub-Units have to resolve that, pissing off one of the two in the process.
Experiences may vary, but again having talked to a lot of officers and WOs from different Corps, the very common experience is that the de facto responsibility for solving all of the above contradictions usually falls on the junior commanders: section commanders at 2Lt-Capt, SSgt-WOs. If they are lucky, they will have a decent Coy (within the Corps unit structure) above them that acts as a degree of shitshield, advice and makes it their job to sort out the above. If they are not lucky, the Coy structure adds another level of nugatory bullshit.

These experiences are widespread through, at a minimum, the Int Corps, REME, RE, RAMC, RMP, all those with directly attached elements below Bn level. The Signals and the RLC partially avoid it through sheer mass, which means the Corps Unit itself is co-located with a supported Combat Bde, rationalising the problems somewhat. But this is what most Corps officers / seniors live for their first 6-8 years or OR7+ posts. This is also why, if you ask, all Corps junior officers, they always want to be posted to Defence or specialist posts, as possible for their capbadge: it's not just the appeal of shiny things, it's escaping the morass that their own capabadge Bns create.

So I'd note three things about this:
  1. This is why I say MS is the root of all evil in the Army - because it is. The unwillingness to change a broken career system, even a little, creates infinite branches of stupidity, some, like this one, with huge consequences. Also, note how this entire change came about in order to provide a career path for certain officers past Lt Col. At what level of organisational impact does creating jobs for a few officers stop being just stupid, and start being corruption?
  2. This is a crystal-clear, doctrinal failure of command at a massive scale: somewhere around 50% of the Army. But it's totally normal, accepted, and as I said, questioning it likely marks you as being a bit difficult. It's also a failure of leadership: try convincing most Corps junior officers (you know, all the specialist ones who we want, who leave - not coincidental) that their superiors are "leaders", when they spend their first 6 years watching their OCs and COs shirk fundamental leadership duties.
  3. What effect does this have on the officer cadre of half the Army? They learn, very quickly, that these key theoretical elements - how they are taught the Army, command, leadership should operate - are just not true in practice ... and nobody questions it. I think this is why you see noticable differences in attitude to the formal Army structure in combat arms and Corps. Combat arms officers believe in it, because for them, it broadly works as promised. For Corps officers, it's very, very clearly either broken or deeply hypocritical.
In sum, this is desperately damaging to the Army, both conceptually and morally, in ways it's impossible to fully predict. All so we can have some generals from non-combat arm capbadges without reforming the career system.

Hands up anyone who thinks its worth it.

* Not in all Corps at that exact time, see posts below.
So a significant chunk of the CSS officer Orbat only exists as a self licking lollipop, writing reports on itself doing things that add friction, but no value, to the whole organisation?

What a waste of money and careers, time for a cull and redeploy of the rest to do something productive for defence.
 

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