Military

Umm, well, yes

We all get the point of military of diplomatic peeps getting rent allowances and all that. The career path, the norm in fact, is to be moving every couple of years. Sometimes moving continent – one three year period for Worstall pere saw jobs in London, Wash DC and Naples.

The same system of allowances for those who stay in the same place for 30 years?

Some staff have worked overseas for 30 years and live a lifestyle which meets the income they have been earning for decades. At present a British head gardener working overseas on a salary of £27,000 also receives in the region of €1,900 a month (€22,800 a year) in overseas living allowances covering rent, living costs and payment for being away from family in the UK.

It’s a little more difficult to justify those allowances, really.

Dangerous thing to say these days

The Royal Air Force has admitted for the first time that black applicants are significantly more likely to fail its selection tests than their white counterparts.

Documents seen by The Telegraph reveal that white and Asian applicants to the RAF consistently score up to 36 per cent higher than black candidates on tests of technical skills and spatial awareness.

Defence chiefs have insisted the Airwoman and Airmen’s Selection Tests (ASTs) had been proven not to be biased against any ethnicity, and blamed the disparity on “underlying inequality” in education.

“It is also important to recognise there can actually be true differences between groups,” the RAF added in a statement.

Differences between groups? Anathema!

What would be interesting would be to see the gender differences as well. For we do tend to think that – on average – there are differences there in such things as spatial awareness.

BIS Test of Spatial Aptitude 2015-2020
Ethnicity declared / five-year average score

Any Chinese Background 60.1

Asian Indian 50.1

Black African 40.6

Black Caribbean 44.0

Mixed Black Caribbean And White 51.4

White British 55.4

Other military peeps know more than me

OK, so brave bloke, well done.

An off-duty soldier who tackled a gunman to the ground when he threatened shoppers in Southampton has been awarded a bravery medal.

Good, such things should be recognised.

Now, to try to read between the lines:

The officer in the Royal Logistic Corps, who currently serves as a Quartermaster in 101 Logistic Brigade,

I didn’t know that officers would or could be quartermasters. Sure, the function, but I thought the British army reserved that word for sergeants and WOs. Or maybe nomenclature has changed or summat. But this:

Capt Williams, 42, of Salisbury,

This isn’t a commentary on the bravery nor the individual. Rather, it’s an exercise in deductive reasoning. Or, even, the value of general knowledge.

Williams laddie was once Private Williams. To be a Captain – army style – at 42 is a dreadful record for a commissioned entrant. So dreadful that I’m not sure it is possible. Culling of someone promoted so slowly would already have happened. It’s not possible to join up old enough for that to be part of a normal promotion path either.

However, that looks about right for someone who joined as a squaddie, rose to sergeant, non com, WO etc and then made the leap to commissioned. The age of the Captain makes us think that he’s done the rising through the ranks thing. The very fact that he’s 42 and not a Major is what makes us think so.

I think at least, would argue that even if wrong the preponderance of probabilities would lead us to that conclusion.

No particular point to this other than that it’s fun to see what can be gleaned from odd bits of knowledge about the world out there – promotion prospects in the Army leading us to this conclusion about this medal earner.

This makes great sense

Drones that could be used by the military for suicide missions are being developed with the backing of the Ministry of Defence, the Telegraph can reveal.

The development of “drone swarm” units for UK military service, announced by Gavin Williamson last year before he was sacked as Defence Secretary, could now take to the skies within six months.

The MoD hopes to deploy multiple small Uninhabited Air Vehicles (UAV), better known as drones, to overload enemy air defences, conduct cyber attacks and provide live images to control centres that could be located thousands of miles away.

Some aircraft could even be modified to carry weapons or act as ‘suicide drones’ to loiter over a battlefield and attack targets that break cover.

You could even argue that there should be hundreds and thousands – it’s possible to make cheap enough drones these days after all, £100 for something really simple – that flood an area.

We’re going to get back to that point about the bomber always getting through of course. Even if that’s true, without effective countermeasures, you still needs boots on the ground to actually occupy a place.

But you can imagine how, given current civilian drones, you could stick a few hundred grammes of HE, a few ball bearings, to something really cheap and directable to make any area of ground uninhabitable. A few hundred of those directed from an armchair in Wiltshire could make any area of the Hindu Kush controllable.

Don’t say it’s the full solution – see boots – but it’s certainly doable with current tech.

So damn young

A recent comment here was about how much Guy Gibson had packed in before his death at the age of 26. A more minor example:

Jungius, now a sub-lieutenant, commanded an assault landing craft that in July 1943 took part in the invasion of Sicily, followed in September by landing the first troops on to the European mainland at Messina.

18 when he did that…..

Women in the Navy

Some did say that this was all going to get a bit tangled:

A Royal Navy commander harassed her boss who she insisted was in denial about her sexuality and in love with her, a court martial has heard.

Commander Sally-Anne Bagnall is accused of harassing her boss, Surgeon Captain Elizabeth Crowson, by launching a relentless “romantic pursuit” despite being repeatedly rejected.

An advantage of a resolutely single sex and heterosexual Navy – not that it ever was resolutely hetero in every detail nor even single sex given some of the Georgian stories – was that this situation just never arose. Even in today’s it isn’t supposed to – no bonking up and down the command chain.

But the real O Tempora, O Mores point, the Eheu Fugaces Labuntur Anni thing to mourn, is that anyone who can’t sort out some bint making mooncalf eyes at her shouldn’t be a Captain in the first place. That’s what’s gone wrong.

Interesting complaint

Unknown Warrior likely to be white soldier because of ‘bias’, research suggests
The National Army Museum suggested bias may have influenced the selection of the body whose remains were interred at Westminster Abbey

The British Unknown Soldier might be British.

You don’t say, eh? And that is actually the complaint. All the documents refer to finding a “British” soldier to bury in Westminster Abbey so of course it was racism.

Bringing your work home

An Australian man and his British colleague working to map unexploded bombs have been killed in an explosion at their home in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands.

Australian Trent Lee and Briton Stephen “Luke” Atkinson died when an unexploded ordnance is believed to have detonated shortly after 7.30pm on Sunday.

The blast, inside the men’s rented accommodation in Tasahe, in the west of the city, was felt more than five kilometres away: cries for help from inside brought rescuers and emergency services to the building.

The two men were employees of the NGO Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), which maps unexploded ordnance across Solomon Islands, working alongside the police bomb disposal unit.

A reader or two here has the military background to explain this. My initial reaction is that we are all told not to bring our work home with us…..

Fair enough

Sensible even:

VJ Day: Armed Forces charities fear support for veterans will dwindle after Second World War passes from living history

That’s the last time an entire, generation had to turn out. Since then it has been much, much, smaller – and voluntary – forces. So, there’s less requirement for the aid and help that charities provide once that generation has doddered off into the grave.

Yes, yes, of course, there are jobs in the charitable bureaucracy to protect but…..

Giant Kielbasa Dongs

Not the phrase I would have thought of but it works:

With their own capital city at their backs, the Poles utterly demolished the entire might of the Soviet army during the “Miracle on the Vistula”, and they did it in the most badass way imaginable – by straight-on bayonet charging a superior force in the hopes of breaking their morale with one ultra-brave display of the Polish military’s giant kielbasa dongs.

The old military

Among his favourite postings was a two-year exchange with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (1954-56), although the rules stipulated that Joy was not able to join him until he had turned 25.

Ah, no, that’s not quite true.

They were both 17 and would often meet on the staircase, but it was not until they were 21 that she agreed to marry him.

The rule was that an officer was assumed not to marry before that age of 25. Which meant no married quarters before that age. Also, no rental allowances, no transport for anyone other than the individual officer. And actual military incomes were v low. It was marriage allowances etc that made life possible, those allowances that weren’t available for the under 25s.

My parents got caught up in this. Married at 23 then Pops was posted to Malta. Mum – along with another similarly placed naval wife – went by commercial boat. Rented in the private market. And had no aid or help from the Navy at all. Pops then posted off to the Pacific – Christmas Island for that test – and she had to make her own way back to England with babe in arms and 8 months pregnant.

She sat in the married quarters allocation office in Portsmouth until eventually, out of embarrassment, they gave her some keys. Next morning they came around and evicted her.

She still spits with rage about it today, 60 years later.

Joy could have joined him. It’s just that there would have been absolutely no help nor aid of any kind. And NZ wasn’t a cheap place to get to back then….

More than a bit odd

The Armed Forces must stamp out its “laddish” nature, the Chief of the Defence Staff has warned, as he revealed he found the military’s culture “really worrying”….

The actual point of all that training being to inculcate a laddish, pack, nature.

People don’t charge machine gun nests for Queen, country, democracy nor equality of any type. They do it because not to do so is to let down the lads. Thus the aim and intent of training is to get people into being part of that cohesive group of lass – of whatever race, gender etc – who will charge machine gun nests for each other.

Pity the CDS has forgotten this…..

66% of the public are morons

Why do they wish to bring back state slavery, helotry, for their children?

National Service should be brought back, two thirds of the public have said, as Boris Johnson and the Queen issue thanks ahead of Armed Forces Day.
While the period of compulsory service in the Armed Forces was phased out in the UK by 1963, two-thirds of Britons said that they would support its reintroduction, with many believing that it should be compulsory.

A more subtle point being perhaps that they think it will teach people the value of authority and all that. When the actual outcome of that 1950s was the explosion of sod all authority ‘n’ it can bugger off in the 1960s. nothing more likely to make people hate the state and its corporals than actually being subject to them for a couple of years.

There’s an old sci fi story

About the scientist who insists his new invention is terrific as it makes explosives not work. No More War!

The General wants to kill him right there and then. For no more explosives or projectile weapons means reversion to worse forms of war, not its extinction.

China has said it is moving 20 martial art trainers to the Tibetan plateau to train its forces.

No official reason for the decision has been given, but it comes after at least 20 Indian troops were killed in clashes with Chinese border forces.

Under an agreement dating back to 1996, neither side carries guns or explosives in the area.

Not wholly and not quite

Armed Forces suicide rate increases but remains half that of general population, MoD data show
The suicide rate for males is 17 per 100,000 in general society but in the armed forces the equivalent number is eight

There’s a definite difference over age isn’t there? Primarily young and old men? That is, the Forces rate is lower again that half given the age profile?

Military history question

Just a family conversation. Military records of personnel who served in WWII and before.

Any online resource? They all been digitised and made public? They available on paper but not online? Or it’s all still covered by privacy regs?

Dear Squaddie, you’re fired

There is what they were doing to be considered:

Two soldiers serving in the regiment that conducts ceremonial duties for the Queen carried out a string of armed robberies across south London, a court has heard.

Grenadier Guards Kristopher James-Merrill, 20, and Dillon Sharpe, 23, are alleged to have raided seven convenience stores with their friend Marlon Wright, 25, between July 24 and 26 2018.

Their regiment is one of the most senior in the British Army with soldiers recognised by the scarlet tunic and bearskin uniforms they wear while on ceremonial duty at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

They’re supposed to be aiding Cabinet Ministers in the bushes of course. But then there’s also the efficacy:

But four of the attempted raids failed and Sharpe left empty handed after workers fought back.

If a couple of squaddies can’t hold up a corner shop then do we actually want them as squaddies?

Slightly missing the point

But their individual sacrifice is a silver lining common to many first world war movies: in the absence of a larger and nobler purpose, the best soldiers can do is fight for each other, and hope to spare a life or steal a little bit of dignity and humanity.

The fighting for each other bit. That’s always what soldiers do. That’s why armies are set up the way they are, in sections, platoons, companies. To engender that community which is what is being fought for.

Never been quite sure whether the Spartan hoplites all fighting alongside their gay partner was true or not but it’s the same idea. Very few indeed will risk their lives for King and Country but set it up right and many will for the band of brothers.

This is rather a big change

Radakin has also ordered an end to the job for life culture among middle ranking officers, with new employment rules for more than 200 captain-ranked officers — equivalent to army colonels and RAF group captains — being brought in.

Previously they could serve automatically until the age of 55. In future they will have to retire if they are not selected for a new job after completing two three-year postings.

Up or out has long been true for above captain ranks.

Bringing it down a step is a pretty big change though. And, OK this is from memory, but I thought it also applied to Commanders – Majors in the Army.

If you don’t make Major then you’re out – don’t make Commander then off you go. But if you do then OK to 55. And if the rules only change for Captains then you’ve an absurdity, that Commanders can stay in and Captains not.

And there is a certain problem here too. Someone who is good enough to make Captain RN is pretty good. And the career certainty is to last only until they are perhaps 45, 46? That’s going to have a knock on effect back down to recruitment into Dartmouth…..

This is also something easy to get wrong:

….the new defence secretary, Ben Wallace, has lambasted navy chiefs for the number of ships and submarines stuck in harbour awaiting repairs or lacking crews.

This is something that has played out many times over the centuries for the RN. The entire point of having the thing is that you can go fight when you need to. Which implies a certain amount of redundancy when you’re not fighting. And so complaining about redundant capacity when you’re not fighting is to rather miss part of the point…..