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Old 03-13-2008   #21
William F. Owen
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Originally Posted by Coldstreamer View Post
They're not nice chaps...they're pr!icks, yes men and amateurs. The Canucks and Yanks have cut to the chase. Weak military leadership. UK has traditionally suffered from crap Generalship in peacetime, with Marlboroughs, Wellingtons,Slims and Thompsons being forged from the opportunities of war. The US model of Generalship based on Character has a lot to offer. To progress in the UK system one must deliver 1) perception of intellect 2) work ethic to support ambition and drive subordinates 3) delivery of the answers the chain of command wishes to hear.

Actions or discussions which go Off-piste will result in being marginalised and quietly filed to the sideline as a 'maverick' or 'unsuitable'. And its certainly not class related. Some of the most ambitious grey men are the most shocking oiks and nouveaus...probably because they know if they stay the course and keep their heads down all the good blokes will get hacked off and self select and make money/see their families/work in the commercial sector where risk taking and success is rewarded.

Apart from that, I think we're doing OK.
I am hugely impressed with you Coldstreamer! I have a feeling that your post may have been the product of a long lonely night in the mess doing orderly officer, but I cannot argue or improve on one word you say.
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Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 03-20-2008   #22
Paul Smyth
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Originally Posted by Coldstreamer View Post
They're not nice chaps...they're pr!icks, yes men and amateurs. The Canucks and Yanks have cut to the chase. Weak military leadership. UK has traditionally suffered from crap Generalship in peacetime, with Marlboroughs, Wellingtons,Slims and Thompsons being forged from the opportunities of war. The US model of Generalship based on Character has a lot to offer. To progress in the UK system one must deliver 1) perception of intellect 2) work ethic to support ambition and drive subordinates 3) delivery of the answers the chain of command wishes to hear.
Actions or discussions which go Off-piste will result in being marginalised and quietly filed to the sideline as a 'maverick' or 'unsuitable'. And its certainly not class related. Some of the most ambitious grey men are the most shocking oiks and nouveaus...probably because they know if they stay the course and keep their heads down all the good blokes will get hacked off and self select and make money/see their families/work in the commercial sector where risk taking and success is rewarded.

At the risk of swimming against the tide I feel I should point out that many (and an increasing number) of the serving officers in the UK's MOD do not fit the described charicature. Instead, they have accrued a significant amount of operational experience and it is that (especially commendations and combat awards), not their academic aspirations, face-time and sycophancy which is propelling them through the command chain. I would agree that in peacetime mavericks can be sidelined, but the enduring ops in Iraq and Afghanistan are providing an opportunity for people of real talent to shine. Naturally, a number of 'grey men' continue to occupy desks but in a bureaucratic system it pays to have bureaucrats in your team. 'Whitehall warriors' might not be considered to have much value outside of the M25, but to reject their utility within a government department (which the Ministry is) is to lose sight of the landscape. For what its worth, I think the underlying problem is that the substantial mismatch between the MOD Equipment Programme and the available Defence budget has persisted for too long. For years, perhaps hope, smoke, and mirrors have been allowed to sustain an unrealistic expectation. The imminent Planning Round 08 may be extremely painful, but it might bring a healthy dose of reality to a situation where there is a dangerous disconnect between Ends and Means.

Last edited by marct; 03-20-2008 at 11:00 PM. Reason: fixed quotation
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Old 03-21-2008   #23
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Naaah. A cock's still a cock, whether he's on operations or not. Individual's who are gallant in the field suddenly lose their backbones when they get back to staff. Gallantry awards will always occur, because the clarity of combat can bring the best - and worst - but usually the best out of people.

I'm being too blunt. It is indeed late (but piquet officer was many years ago). We breed and train superb combat leaders, but dreadful managers. Look at our personnel and pay systems. If Accenture buggered up its peoples wages on the daily basis that the army does, its HR people and accountants would be hanged, sacked industrial trialled etc. Meanwhile, we still pay full whack income tax despite being out of the country for over half the year (don't anyone dare say the operational allowance is a tax break - weighted at the bottom rate of a private soldier's pay regardless of how much one earns....). My Guardsmen on operations don't even clear 1000 a month ($2000). We can't field anything swiftly unless the minister says 'effing do this now' because our bureaucracy is dreadful. I've worked in the Centre, and can play management speak bull#### bingo with the best of them - but this is not the place for that. Our % GDP is at an all time low - comparable with the interwar years when we hedged our bets until it was too late to catch up with German rearmament, or a similar period under a Whig government during the Crimea. Senior Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen have to take the rap for how the money we get is spent - we can't hide behind Ministers' skirts once we get the slice of the pie. And still we piddle it all away on legacy clumsy expensive kit, when what we need are well trained and treated (thus recruited and retained and at the right quality) people - and enough of them. Not 232 uber-interceptors, or a make believe medium-weight euro trash capabilty that fits in a C130 but has the protection of a Warrior.

Nah....I got it right first time. Pricks.
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Old 03-21-2008   #24
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mmm... you obviously didn't enjoy yourself in Main Building, which I can understand. Personally, I was very happy to get no closer to MOD than the PJHQ, but I don't share your disdain for those who worjk there, especially when the single-services sometimes hide their own inadequacies behind the centre. For instance, Army retention over the past few years might have improved if it had spent more of its budget on the quality of accommodation for its people. That is an historic issue and blaming awful housing/barracks on the centre is a touch hypercritical. I agree that the EP is a goat. Apart from obvious major programmes that require a decade or more to complete other projects should be excluded if they cannot be in-service within 3 years. We can't live on UORs.

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Old 03-22-2008   #25
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Paul,

I'm not laying our problems entirely at the Centre by any means; as you say, there is ownership everywhere. I think the problem runs deeper and wider, insofar as heresy held anywhere against shibboleths like DSG05, FRES, FIS, FAS etc is met with isolation, and the path to advancement is to deliver savings. We have a frightened chain of command who in the absence of a national strategy err toward caution or familiar pain. Genuinely creative thought is not encouraged, and the culture of the Yes Man thrives.
Of course its not everybody. But there are enough damaged goods in sufficiently senior positions to prevent the confident functional approach to problem solving that we need in todays world.
When was the last time you ever saw a C2 Estimate conducted before an operation was launched from PJHQ?
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Old 03-22-2008   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldstreamer View Post
@ I think the problem runs deeper and wider, insofar as heresy held anywhere against shibboleths like DSG05, FRES, FIS, FAS etc is met with isolation, and the path to advancement is to deliver savings.

@ We have a frightened chain of command who in the absence of a national strategy err toward caution or familiar pain. Genuinely creative thought is not encouraged, and the culture of the Yes Man thrives.
Coldstreamer is utterly correct, and in my personal experience things are very much worse than he suggests.

Just for the Infantry alone, the litany of unbelievable errors, and bizarre data free decisions, like the 60/51mm mortar issue, the 40mm GMG, BOWMAN PRC-354, the FIST fiasco, and even the PAM 45 re-write, suggests some things are dreadfully wrong. I even understand the D-INF is looking to "Develop Light Forces Doctrine," -which suggests that we currently don't have any!
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Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 03-22-2008   #27
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On the up side, our uniforms are pretty snazzy, our banter first rate, and even though Selly Oak is full of amputees, everybody know...Chicks dig scars.

Also, it would seem the biggest contributors to the Help for Heroes fund are....individual members of the armed forces doing charity events. Er....I thought it was meant to be the general public helping us out...not us helping us out....?

The sooner I'm CGS the better, I say.
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Old 03-22-2008   #28
William F. Owen
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Originally Posted by Coldstreamer View Post

The sooner I'm CGS the better, I say.
...so here are some tips.

a.) You belong to proper Regiment, full of "good chaps," married to "nice gals", so you have an excellent start.

b.) Get a tour in Special Forces under your belt, or even better, fail selection with an injury. "Frightfully bad luck" goes a long way.

c.) Lace your conversation with words like "Effect" and "capability." Mimic the vocabulary of SO-2s in the DECs, and arms directors.

d.) Be involved in some frightful disaster, that no one knows about - it's "frightfully bad luck."

e.) Write supportive articles in "Battle Notes" and the British Army Review.

f.) Stay "on message."

Hope this helps
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Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 03-22-2008   #29
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Sadly, there is no sense that things at MOD will improve. The headline '1.5% per annum increase' in defence spending over the next 3 years is misleading and Staff levels there are being 'streamlined' (i.e. further reduced by 25% - yes 1 in 4). Staff reductions will effect both civilian and uniformed posts (where a number are gapped already), which might be good news for those officers hoping to avoid a stint in Main Building, but a major concern for defence policy as over time the withering military footprint in Whitehall will lose influence. It may be apocryphal, but if the Dept of Health is being steered without doctors at the helm, the spectre of an MOD being run without sailors, marines, soldiers and airmen would make current problems 'the good old days'. Anecdotally, if I ever have doubts about my decision to jump ship, I can walk into MOD...

PS
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Old 03-22-2008   #30
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BillF - gleaming advice....

a-e....all done already (noble injury rather than gucci pistol scenario, sadly)

f....sorry....all bull####ted out!

Paul - unsurprising. We remain a profession in perpetual decline - back to the watery backbones of our lords and masters. Not irreversible. Remedial action:

- All Military Staff in MOD posts to wear uniform at work starting next week, and remember who they are (I used to do that from time to time...it was as though I'd run into the building with a blood-dripping axe).

- Remember how to say 'no' when something makes no sense.

- Make output not savings based plans and decisions. Ensure logic trail is understood as to why infantry can't be trained in 14 weeks (I know your Patrol Based Infantry model sees efficiencies Wilf, but remember the start state of today's yoof).

- Only agree to do things 'properly', based on sound judgement and terms

Much of this is highly subjective - but that is the basis of professional knowlege, from Law to Medicine. For example, when the Govt forbade us to force generate for TELIC 1 because 'the decision for war had not yet been taken', resulting in numerous casualties from ill prepared troops, the Chiefs should have refused to soldier until we were adequatelly prepared, because the decision was bollocks. The difference lying between mobilising a force and using it. A ready force could have been stood down had Iraq complied...etc. But one example.

Too much hubris, too many fools, too many idiots masquerading as brains, too many ambitions overwhelming consciences...
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Old 03-22-2008   #31
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I like the way Ya"ll talk...Ya'll must be from Southern England.
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Old 03-22-2008   #32
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Default Yeah, only bad thing is they could be talking

about another country and defense department...
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Old 03-22-2008   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldstreamer View Post
Naaah. A cock's still a cock, whether he's on operations or not. Individual's who are gallant in the field suddenly lose their backbones when they get back to staff. Gallantry awards will always occur, because the clarity of combat can bring the best - and worst - but usually the best out of people.

I'm being too blunt. It is indeed late (but piquet officer was many years ago). We breed and train superb combat leaders, but dreadful managers. Look at our personnel and pay systems. If Accenture buggered up its peoples wages on the daily basis that the army does, its HR people and accountants would be hanged, sacked industrial trialled etc. Meanwhile, we still pay full whack income tax despite being out of the country for over half the year (don't anyone dare say the operational allowance is a tax break - weighted at the bottom rate of a private soldier's pay regardless of how much one earns....). My Guardsmen on operations don't even clear 1000 a month ($2000). We can't field anything swiftly unless the minister says 'effing do this now' because our bureaucracy is dreadful. I've worked in the Centre, and can play management speak bull#### bingo with the best of them - but this is not the place for that. Our % GDP is at an all time low - comparable with the interwar years when we hedged our bets until it was too late to catch up with German rearmament, or a similar period under a Whig government during the Crimea. Senior Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen have to take the rap for how the money we get is spent - we can't hide behind Ministers' skirts once we get the slice of the pie. And still we piddle it all away on legacy clumsy expensive kit, when what we need are well trained and treated (thus recruited and retained and at the right quality) people - and enough of them. Not 232 uber-interceptors, or a make believe medium-weight euro trash capabilty that fits in a C130 but has the protection of a Warrior.

Nah....I got it right first time. Pricks.
I may have posted on this before, curious if you've read Lewis Page's Lions, Donkeys, and Dinosaurs, polemic from a former RN officer about BAE, the MOD, and the many disasters of British defense procurement. The handful of British officers I've talked to in my three years in the UK say many of the same things you do.
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Old 03-22-2008   #34
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Good book less one disappointing strand whereby he repeatedly attacks the Household Division from a position of conjecture rather than experience.
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Old 03-23-2008   #35
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I would be more careful. Do check his logic. He gave an interview in 2007 on TV where he said Typhoon is responsible for casualties in Afghanistan. His logic trail ran something like this:

we're taking casualties because troops are having to move by road - because there aren't enough helos - because the RAF hasn't funded its SH Force - because its spent its money on Typhoon. 2+2=5.

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Old 03-23-2008   #36
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Originally Posted by Paul Smyth View Post
I would be more careful. Do check his logic. He gave an interview in 2007 on TV where he said Typhoon is responsible for casualties in Afghanistan. His logic trail ran something like this:

we're taking casualties because troops are having to move by road - because there aren't enough helos - because the RAF hasn't funded its SH Force - because its spent its money on Typhoon. 2+2=5.

PS
I know Lewis Page quite well, and have talked to him a fair deal. I agree his logic is not sometimes what it could be, but the fact that the RAF has consistently under-funded and under-developed its SH fleet is pretty well proven in my eyes.

The initial buy of only 22 Merlin was woeful, and done in spite of the evidence we needed 32+, and the failure to create a 1:1 replacement to the Puma fleet is almost unforgivable.
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Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 03-23-2008   #37
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Found this interesting a little while back:

It Just Can't Get Any Worse: The British Army as Seen from Russia, by Keir Giles (CSRC, April 2006)

Oh, but it can, and has...
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Old 03-24-2008   #38
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Agreed, the SHF is suffering. A situation not helped by the period when 8 SF-bound Chinooks were left sitting in hangars (now being modified for 'normal' use). I suspect that if two enduring COIN campaigns in arduous regions had been part of the 1990s calculations on future Force requirements (Cf SDR Planning Assumptions!) the 'answer' might have looked different. We perhaps shouldn't be surprised that a cab with substantially greater performance (e.g. 24 vice 16 tps) wasn't procured on a one-to-one replacement basis.

P
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Old 03-24-2008   #39
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@ A situation not helped by the period when 8 SF-bound Chinooks were left sitting in hangars (now being modified for 'normal' use).

@ I suspect that if two enduring COIN campaigns in arduous regions had been part of the 1990s calculations on future Force requirements (Cf SDR Planning Assumptions!) the 'answer' might have looked different.

@ We perhaps shouldn't be surprised that a cab with substantially greater performance (e.g. 24 vice 16 tps) wasn't procured on a one-to-one replacement basis.
@ Unbelievable stupidity. Agreed!

@ Any campaign. The numbers don't differ that much. Look at the sortie rate on Corporate. Look at the sortie rate in NI. The RAF does not and never did want the SH role, yet wanted to deny the Army the same. Remember the Chinooks were procured to support the deployed Harrier Force. The OA of the day said we should get CH-53.

@ Ah yes, the old 528 troop force lift. I wish life were that simple or there was any compelling evidence to suggest this was the case.
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Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 03-24-2008   #40
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These people responsible for poor decisionmaking.....I think some of them may be gay as well. I'm sure one of them followed me into a lavatory once, and hung around hopefully. I just handed him a point brief and said I wasn't that kind of staff officer, but I felt used and dirty nonetheless. Then, our pay rise turned out to be less than the rate of inflation. How does that equate to a rise?

I'm off to get TRIM'd. I am clearly riddled with PTSD.
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