Bad idea here, bad idea

Army leaders will be recruited direct from the civilian world rather than rising up through the ranks, under a proposed overhaul to bring in specialist skills for 21st century warfare.

The plan to hire straight into the regular Army’s middle and possibly even higher ranks will overturn generations of tradition and a career structure that has seen leaders work their way up from the bottom.

Yes, I know they’re saying not in the combat arms and yes, I understand the basic problem they’ve got of certain specialist skills. But the answer, I would strongly suspect, is to have an entirely new status, career structure, ranking system even, rather than try to shoehorn into the current structure. Instead of Major (Specialist) something more like Specialist (Major). There are those around here with much moire military experience than myself so what say them?

From memory Doctors and Padres go in directly as Captains, so this isn’t entirely unknown already. But they are considered very, very, different from line officers, aren’t they?

30 comments on “Bad idea here, bad idea

  1. This will be used to insert unqualified women, minorities and social justice warriors into positions they could never achieve on merit without them having to waste their careers working with dirt people in the army.

  2. I’d imagine the problem’s you wouldn’t want these people anywhere near the chain of command. In the event of a serious depletion of the combat officers, you need a Major (Cybernetics) jumping to the orders of a corporal (Infantry).Not the other way round.

  3. Technical trainers – could work
    Counsellors, who don’t know what it’s like to be a PBI who has to follow orders and be bollocked for not doing so exactly – probably wouldn’t work. Imv.
    I predict counsellors getting hired therefore. And they won’t be Deanna Troi standard.

  4. They already have Civil Service grades which map to ranks. They don’t need to commission these new people.

    An RAF Sargent of my acquaintance left the service and returned to the same station as a civil servant. Suddenly, everyone had to call him ‘sir’.

    Maybe, though, civil servants don’t like being moved to where the action is at short notice?

  5. There’s a whole bunch of “professionally-qualified officers” already that do a short comissioning course: Lawyers, teachers (Army Education Corps), doctors, and so on.

    Interestingly engineers are still expected to do a full Sandhurst course and go in as 2nd Lt, but can be Major in 6 years (happened to a uni friend of mine). When I graduated it was on my list of options, but having just got married, the idea of a year at Sandhurst then working at Arborfield for a starting salary of peanuts was less than attractive when I was offered a job In Foreign for about 3x the post-tax money.

  6. They already have Civil Service grades which map to ranks. They don’t need to commission these new people.

    Candidly,

    1. CS grade to military rank “equivalence” is for two purposes. Posting people in to mixed CS/mil roles and assigning accommodation.

    2. You often do need, not commissioning, but to be in the military. For Law of Armed Conflict purposes.

    An RAF Sargent of my acquaintance left the service and returned to the same station as a civil servant. Suddenly, everyone had to call him ‘sir’.

    You don’t call CS “Sir”.

    So – Professionally Qualified Officers go in as Captains. As has been pointed out, medics and padres (although technically padres are Chaplains Class IV or something.) Also vets, lawyers and Army (only) cyber reservists.

    Probably the best solution is something like the Air Forces “Specialist Aircrew” commission – you come in, get to Flight Lt, and stay there. Your pay increases (and you are on a special scale), can do all sorts of crunchy specialist (i.e. flying) jobs but you don’t end up as SO2 (Digital Paperclips Evaluation) at High Wycombe.

  7. Consider the appointment of Mr RAA Byford, who in 1938 was recruited from Trust Houses Ltd to oversee the improvements in Army catering recommended by Sir Isidore Salmon (of J. Lyons). Byford was appointed with the rank of colonel, and left as brigadier and commandant of the Army Catering Corps. Food became much better under his direction.

    So no, it hasn’t always been a bad idea.

  8. Or Group Captain Stagg, who gave the weather forecast that allowed D-Day to go ahead. He was a civilian from the Met Office, given uniform and rank at the right level for RAF officers to take him seriously.

  9. Another off-the-wall example would be a certain Mr. Albert Pierrepoint, given the honorary rank of Colonel while he introduced a large number of German war criminals to short-trip teathered skydiving.

  10. abacab

    I thought that the Army Education Corps did the full Sandhurst thing. An army officer mate of mine told me that an officer in the whatever they called the Education Corps now ended up leading a section assault somewhere in Afghanistan.

  11. Maybe they should re-introduce the practice to the Police. Used to be that many Chief Constables were retired Colonels. That could be a rather direct way of getting shot of the politically motivated/nurtured dross at the top.

  12. Oh great, it’ll be like modern corporations then when a bright young thing with good connections and a degree from Oxbridge or a Grande Ecole will be parachuted in at a senior level to take charge of people with 20+ years experience in the industry. Aye, that works so well.

  13. @Ken,

    Certainly when my old man was looking at it (which would have been 30-odd years ago, I guess), it was a short commissioning course. Might have changed in the meantime.

  14. “Oh great, it’ll be like modern corporations then when a bright young thing with good connections and a degree from Oxbridge or a Grande Ecole will be parachuted in at a senior level to take charge of people with 20+ years experience in the industry. Aye, that works so well.”

    I had to suffer management by people who firmly believed that the number of billable hours expanded to fit the number of people available to do them.

    Not that we should employ enough people to do the number of hours that the clients wanted done….

    So we had work for three, and 6 people to treat it (and most of it was treated by 2 of us). And that was somehow our fault.

  15. For many years it has been the policy to identify all posts that do not have a deployed wartime role and privatise/contractorise them. That relieves the cost of training the post holders as combat ready soldiers and the support and then pension costs associated. Those in the posts can be given an equivalent rank status for use of messes etc – as is given to senior civil servants in the MOD etc.

    Conversely, those posts which are either deplorable or in the combat chain of command are by necessity filled by combat trained soldiers and, as they move up through the ranks, ones who have experienced combat and are proven in combat conditions. Under no circumstances can such rank or position be given to someone parachuted in from outside.

    The idea that rank rather than equivalent status is given in such circumstances is both unnecessary and, during war, dangerous.

  16. Diversity Kommissars, one to each company, to monitor and report on activities and thoughts which are unbecoming in the modern age.

  17. abacab

    https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/armed-forces-training-and-education-officer

    “Army officers begin with a commissioning course at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, which lasts 44 weeks.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Military_Academy_Sandhurst#Courses

    There are two shorter commissioning courses. One is for professionally qualified officers (e.g., doctors, dentists, nurses, lawyers, pharmacists, veterinary surgeons and chaplains).[19]

    So nowadays the teachers appear to do the full commissioning course. Which helps to explain the leading a section assault. (From memory it was in one of those awful places – Helmand? – where the bases were under a lot of pressure.)

  18. My father’s experience in The War was simple. Every worthwhile officer that he met was either from the Territorials or from civvy street. The regulars were bloody awful.

  19. To be fair to the forces of the Crown, the worst individual officer he met was an American colonel.

  20. This is a bad idea everywhere. Most companies have moved away from “management trainee” schemes because they realised that running things means having some experience of the thing you’re managing.

    It seems to me that the state is a lot like say, cults or religions, with the degree as the equivalent of say, a pilgrimage to a holy shrine, learning a holy book, or spending hours in self-flagelation. It’s not that those things are of any use in themselves, but they do demonstrate commitment to the values of the group.

  21. There’s already a mechanism for this – it’s called Reserve service. Those with civvy skills who are interested in serving can join the Army Reserve. If the government wants to use them full time, they can mobilise them.

    There’s a slight flaw in this, of course, for which I’ll spin you an anecdote.

    I’m a banker by day and a Reservist by night. Given that the Reserves is a bit of an outlet for me, I am a non-commissioned mortar base-plate carrier/grenade eater/machine-gun wrangler when in uniform.

    My regiment asked us all report our civilian skills, and were especially interested in those with financial skills and legal backgrounds. This was with a view to helping Police Force X solve complex financial crime.

    So, basically, they were asking me to do my day job for a private’s pay of £42 a day.

    And to this suggestion, with they greatest possible respect, they can go fuck themselves.

  22. Court martial those who let this situation develop.

    BTW . . . the U.S. military has a gazillion contractors, in country, dealing with tech and many other things. If you are going to be IN the military, you MUST have military training. Else, be a contractor.

  23. dearieme: my father found the exact opposite. The regulars were sound, but those commissioned for the duration were an absolute shower.

  24. So, basically, they were asking me to do my day job for a private’s pay of £42 a day.

    Ah, well, at least for my busmans’ holiday I get £110 a day more than you. Yah boo sucks 🙂

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