Branches

All this talk of forum titles has got me thinking.

What is the feeling on the ground about the current list of specialisations. A few thoughts from Monkey.

1) Command Support - how much do we really need this? I can see a use for the ratings but haven't the days of NCAGS officers sitting in Dubai reaching its end.

2) MW - come on guys, we have about 3 MCMVs that work and since you can't be properly deployed until you hit, what 1*?

3) C4ISR - Just how long does it take to sort out a new branch

4) Logs - Sorry feel asleep trying to think of something to say about them. The RPR, perceived to be the glorious future of the RNR. Is it really any good?

5) AW - WTF does a non STCW95 officer do in this branch and would it by default become a two tier structure.

6) GSSR - Actually don't have anything to say other than, if you wanted to wear green... ;)

OK bored now, over to you!

Monkey (R)
 

GCYZ

Lantern Swinger
You almost got a flash! Just because there's a MW officer in every rank from Commodore to SLt doesn't make them bad people. When PMOK specialises MW, world domination will be complete ,and everyone will then get all those fancy deployments that NCS have been hogging for years!

On a serious note, The RNR needs roles that the RN do not routinely do, that way our value is seen straight away without having to compete with RN counterparts. Actually NCAGS is a perfect example.
 

PartTimer

War Hero
GCYZ said:
On a serious note, The RNR needs roles that the RN do not routinely do, that way our value is seen straight away without having to compete with RN counterparts. Actually NCAGS is a perfect example.

You've hit the nail on the head there GCYZ. The RNR, non-List 1 at least, could never hope to have an equivalent level of training for equivalent specs in the regulars. The value of the RNR must be in areas in which it would be uneconomic for the RN to fill in peace-time, many of which may require deep specialist knowledge and experience, gathered over years of training.
 
GCYZ said:
You almost got a flash! Just because there's a MW officer in every rank from Commodore to SLt doesn't make them bad people. When PMOK specialises MW, world domination will be complete ,and everyone will then get all those fancy deployments that NCS have been hogging for years!

That will all change when all the old and bold dating back to the river class are told they have to deploy!

Once the new blood comes in they will be seriously outnumbered.
 

GCYZ

Lantern Swinger
Reservist-Monkey said:
That will all change when all the old and bold dating back to the river class are told they have to deploy!

(Less of the Old! ) It is a sad reflection on what has happened with regards advancement etc over the last 10 or so years however that means that most of our MW/GSSR S/R's are ex MSF. All of the MW Officers/SR's deployed on Telic where ex MSF, so that argument does not hold up. (Those that have stayed have adpated but will still dit on at the drop of a hat.) Getting new blood to stay/Advanced is a major problem. Hopefully things are changing now that pipeline times have been cut.
When I joined there where still those who wanted Ton's back. It was ever thus. When (not IF!)I become like that, tie me to a dan sinker and push me off the back end.
 

le_jaq

Midshipman
Hi Monkey(R)

I’d be happy to weigh in with my thoughts on two of those issues.

You used Naval Control and Guidance of Shipping (NCAGS) as an example of Command Support and rather implied that this was no longer a need.

I would argue that there is a very clear need within the RN for people who understand the merchant navy world and can run Maritime Trade Operations. There are sort of elements NCAGS which hark back to running convoys across the Atlantic but not a great deal, nowadays it’s all about two key areas:

1. The ongoing need to provide an interface between the Royal Navy – in practice often some kind of command structure over a couple of different national navies - and the merchant marine. Partly this involves interpreting two very different ways of doing things, but there is a much more practical element. Think of it from the point of view of a merchant captain at sea. You find yourself witnessing an act or piracy or terrorist activity. Who do you call? The RN doesn’t have a hotline, but the NCAGS bit of command support can supply the way in to the command structure.

From the point of the RN, if you are in the ops room trying to run Maritime Interdiction Ops and your radar screen is toppers with contacts – you have to prioritise your operation. If NCAGS has given you a list of merchant shipping in the area which is known and in the system you have a real head start and it enormously increases your chances of chances of success by being able to maximise your resources on those contacts which look most promising.

I am sure that the guys in the shipping centre in Dubai will be contributing to this forum with their own point of view and can give concrete examples of when they have acted as a way into the two different worlds.

2. The need to bring lots of sea lift capacity into the system very quickly for operations. The Army has pretty much concentrated on “away fixtures†of late and when it needs to deploy its heavy armour you are talking about a lot of kit. The limited resources available to Defence Logistics can’t cope with anything too large. Taking ships up from trade is a bit of a non-starter nowadays, so the only option is to charter merchant shipping on the open market. So you buy in loads of Ro-Ro capacity, task it to go to Marchwood, load it and then dispatch it to wherever the Army needs its stuff. That’s all done by the DLO and during Telic those guys did a terrific job with really limited resources. However, there is much more to it than that.

Firstly, once you charter those ships you need to protect them – obviously that entails putting a SPO team of GSSR people on board – but as they make the ships make their way around the world you can do a lot more by ensuring that as they go through choke points, like the Straits of Gibraltar or the Straits of Hormuz, they’ve got some protection from warships. We are not talking convoys here, were are talking about facilitating communications and liaison between chartered shipping and warships which are probably doing stuff in the area anyway.
Secondly, you need to keep those chartered ships fully informed of what the situation is and what is expected of them and
Finally, you need to support them. Facilitate their passage to and from where the Army needs its stuff by sorting out bunkers, spares, crew changes, passage through the Suez and so forth.

All of these elements Protection, Information and Support can be done quite simply by deploying a few NCAGS people around the place on top of the formal command structure: some people at the DLO, some briefing officers in Marchwood and key points abroad, some other people around the world in those key areas where support is most likely to be needed, and a few people floating around the system to keep it all running.

All this is good common sense, and the argument is ceaselessly made by people within NCAGS (which has some excellent advocates) to the RN. It has to be said that those people in the RN who have seen how well it all works when NCAGS people are involved are real converts. Maritime Trade Ops even has a real financial benefit, chartering ships is a very expensive business; ships cost anything from $25k per day upwards to charter. If NCAGS people can save a day here and there by booking bunker facilities ahead, making smooth crew changes, sorting out spares and getting ships through Suez promptly the savings can be considerable.

Not only do we really need the NCAGS function of Command Support, it is something of a mystery to me that the RN hasn’t embraced it more fully and isn’t continually asking for more help. It has been a real RNR success story.

On GSSR, I know what you mean when you say “If you wanted to wear green …†but, the SPO role needs that combination of basic soldiering skills and knowing your way around a merchant ship. Obviously the Royals would be first choice for this, they are a bit overqualified. SPO is really necessary and, again, I don’t know why the RN isn’t getting people away on the Point ships to give teams the practice.

Incidentally, SPO is one area which is crying out for a really imaginative and thought through training course, with really slick drills and top combat shooting skills. The Army has some excellent simulators for SA 80 nowadays and it would be interesting to see if the software could be rewritten for a marine environment. Engaging an incoming rib doing 50 knots at night from the upper deck would be better than any video game – although to make it more realistic I think that the shoot should start from the prone position in a bunk and before even picking up the weapon candidates would have to run up four ladders in the dark before emerging on to a brightly lit upper deck just to make sure they had mastered breathing control and protecting night vision properly!
 

Chunky_Monkey

Midshipman
Le_jaq - I could not agree more with your comments. I am in the (fortunate?) position knowing people in both the RN and MN and there is often a lot of bad feeling between the two - usually because one doesn't understand what the other one does, or indeed why. NCAGS provides a vital link between the two - if anything we need more of us !

I can also advise that junior officers in the RN (and RFA) who complete the JWO course at COLLINGWOOD receive an NCAGS lecture as part of the course, so knowledge of our existence is being expanded upon (and not before time!)
 

McHammock

Lantern Swinger
le_jaq said:
Hi Monkey(R)

I’d be happy to weigh in with my thoughts on two of those issues.

You used Naval Control and Guidance of Shipping (NCAGS) as an example of Command Support and rather implied that this was no longer a need.

I would argue that there is a very clear need within the RN for people who understand the merchant navy world and can run Maritime Trade Operations. There are sort of elements NCAGS which hark back to running convoys across the Atlantic but not a great deal, nowadays it’s all about two key areas

1. The ongoing need to provide an interface between the Royal Navy – in practice often some kind of command structure over a couple of different national navies - and the merchant marine. Partly this involves interpreting two very different ways of doing things, but there is a much more practical element. Think of it from the point of view of a merchant captain at sea. You find yourself witnessing an act or piracy or terrorist activity. Who do you call? The RN doesn’t have a hotline, but the NCAGS bit of command support can supply the way in to the command structure.

From the point of the RN, if you are in the ops room trying to run Maritime Interdiction Ops and your radar screen is toppers with contacts – you have to prioritise your operation. If NCAGS has given you a list of merchant shipping in the area which is known and in the system you have a real head start and it enormously increases your chances of chances of success by being able to maximise your resources on those contacts which look most promising.

I am sure that the guys in the shipping centre in Dubai will be contributing to this forum with their own point of view and can give concrete examples of when they have acted as a way into the two different worlds.

2. The need to bring lots of sea lift capacity into the system very quickly for operations. The Army has pretty much concentrated on “away fixtures†of late and when it needs to deploy its heavy armour you are talking about a lot of kit. The limited resources available to Defence Logistics can’t cope with anything too large. Taking ships up from trade is a bit of a non-starter nowadays, so the only option is to charter merchant shipping on the open market. So you buy in loads of Ro-Ro capacity, task it to go to Marchwood, load it and then dispatch it to wherever the Army needs its stuff. That’s all done by the DLO and during Telic those guys did a terrific job with really limited resources. However, there is much more to it than that.

Firstly, once you charter those ships you need to protect them – obviously that entails putting a SPO team of GSSR people on board – but as they make the ships make their way around the world you can do a lot more by ensuring that as they go through choke points, like the Straits of Gibraltar or the Straits of Hormuz, they’ve got some protection from warships. We are not talking convoys here, were are talking about facilitating communications and liaison between chartered shipping and warships which are probably doing stuff in the area anyway.
Secondly, you need to keep those chartered ships fully informed of what the situation is and what is expected of them and
Finally, you need to support them. Facilitate their passage to and from where the Army needs its stuff by sorting out bunkers, spares, crew changes, passage through the Suez and so forth.

All of these elements Protection, Information and Support can be done quite simply by deploying a few NCAGS people around the place on top of the formal command structure some people at the DLO, some briefing officers in Marchwood and key points abroad, some other people around the world in those key areas where support is most likely to be needed, and a few people floating around the system to keep it all running.

All this is good common sense, and the argument is ceaselessly made by people within NCAGS (which has some excellent advocates) to the RN. It has to be said that those people in the RN who have seen how well it all works when NCAGS people are involved are real converts. Maritime Trade Ops even has a real financial benefit, chartering ships is a very expensive business; ships cost anything from $25k per day upwards to charter. If NCAGS people can save a day here and there by booking bunker facilities ahead, making smooth crew changes, sorting out spares and getting ships through Suez promptly the savings can be considerable.

Not only do we really need the NCAGS function of Command Support, it is something of a mystery to me that the RN hasn’t embraced it more fully and isn’t continually asking for more help. It has been a real RNR success story.

On GSSR, I know what you mean when you say “If you wanted to wear green …†but, the SPO role needs that combination of basic soldiering skills and knowing your way around a merchant ship. Obviously the Royals would be first choice for this, they are a bit overqualified. SPO is really necessary and, again, I don’t know why the RN isn’t getting people away on the Point ships to give teams the practice.

Incidentally, SPO is one area which is crying out for a really imaginative and thought through training course, with really slick drills and top combat shooting skills. The Army has some excellent simulators for SA 80 nowadays and it would be interesting to see if the software could be rewritten for a marine environment. Engaging an incoming rib doing 50 knots at night from the upper deck would be better than any video game – although to make it more realistic I think that the shoot should start from the prone position in a bunk and before even picking up the weapon candidates would have to run up four ladders in the dark before emerging on to a brightly lit upper deck just to make sure they had mastered breathing control and protecting night vision properly!
le_jaq
Good post & fully agree with you about NCAGS & GSSR being plus points for the RNR that the RN needs to make more use of.
I think anyone in the RN who's had dealing with NCAGS (admittedly a v.small minority) would also agree.
As for SA80 stimulators - apparently naval scenarios already exist. Our GI is trying to get hold of them for our use in our local army barracks.
 

oddbits

Newbie
GCYZ said:
On a serious note, The RNR needs roles that the RN do not routinely do, that way our value is seen straight away without having to compete with RN counterparts. Actually NCAGS is a perfect example.

As is Sub Ops - though our problem is more that skimmers don't understand boats at all...
 
Assuming we all agree on the concept of filling roles the RN can't readily do. I still need an answer as to why we need MW officers. I'm not convinced that the RN can't manage that if they needed to.
 

GCYZ

Lantern Swinger
Reservist-Monkey said:
Assuming we all agree on the concept of filling roles the RN can't readily do. I still need an answer as to why we need MW officers. I'm not convinced that the RN can't manage that if they needed to.

What have MW officers ever done to you? The RN does not have dedicated MW Battlestaff watchkeepers. The RNR provide these both during execise and conflict. Filling this role from the RN would mean taking officers and Senior rates away from thier normal appointments. The structure of an MCM squardron is such that it allows for a core staff during normal day to day operations and is augmented during exercise and conflict. The crux of the matter is the RN have decided they need them. It is a dangerous path to go down making decsions for the functional employer.
 
OK. Serious point this time ;)

Where are you going to get MW personnel in the future now that those that served in the MSF (I am old enough to have been on the odd one) are getting on a bit. Surely the depth and breadth of experience that was gained on those vessels can never be gained in the current training strcuture.

Maybe not a problem for today, but in 10 years time?
 

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