Direct Entry - is there a bit missing?

Discussion in 'Royal Naval Reserve (RNR)' started by left_handed_sailor, May 30, 2008.

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  1. Hello all,

    My RN/RNR experience is rather unusual, in that I initially joined as a DE, but was invited to go full time at AIB. Biffed during phase 2 at BRNC so came outside, and I'm now going back in as DE. What I have noticed is that there might be a good bit of grounding missing from the DE curriculum:

    In the good old days, everyone went in as ratings - and did their 2 weeks at Raleigh and were taken through deck to the Wardroom. They experienced life as a rating and therefore had that essential empathy when they started wearing their loops on their cuffs.

    The DE officer doesn't do this - and whereas at BRNC for the regulars they spend 21 weeks as a junior including their 7 weeks IST (sea time) living with the ratings, those RNR officers doing the BRNC course are treated like seniors, and therefore don't really experience the living in 8 - 28 man cabins, rounds, drill and endless polishing.

    Does anybody think that therefore the DE officer is lacking that grounding experience, and therefore some form of humility?

    Just a though mind you....
     
  2. Concur
     
  3. I think that's a definite risk (and I'm going through the DE route myself). If you don't bring your own humility, I've no doubt that some will be firmly issued before too long... but there's the potential for friction there if a DE candidate has a poor attitude or the wrong expectations, before said problems are corrected.

    The worry I think we share is that while I'm comfortable coming in DE (whether the Navy is comfortable with me, remains to be seen...) that's because I did the private soldier routine with the Army some time ago, and work with the RN for a day job. I know I'm going to be in receive mode for much of my PA-SLUT time, precisely because my militarisation was a long time ago and DPM instead of dark blue.

    It's not an insurmountable problem, but it does mean that either the initial screening (AFCO, unit, AIB) needs to be good or else training DE officers will be harder work for units - or, grimly, there'll be some DE attrition if the lack of proper respect for Other Ranks isn't rapidly fixed.

    How bad is this alleged officer shortage anyway? (I'd say it must be catastrophic if they wanted me... )
     
  4. I also agree. I think DE officers in the RNR should have an extra 1-2 weeks either at Raleigh or Dartmouth as a junior as well as the current Dartmouth course. I think what is lacking is basic militarisation. I have met some DE YOs who are pretty good in that respect as a result of something else in their backgrounds (CCF, service family, etc.), but one or two have been rather dismal.

    In the past the only direct entry officers were those who had spent at least 6 months as URNU midshipmen. Obviously this doesn't guarantee much in the way of militarisation, but most would have done 3 years of weekends and 2-4 weeks a year at sea in a little bumpy plastic patrol boat, cleaning heads, doing their turns in the galley, standing night watches, etc.
     
  5. I firmly believe that direct entry is a mistake.

    Junior officers are expected to be able to undertake a degree of management within the divisional structure. More in the RNR than the RN?

    I realise that there is a need to increase the numbers of officers and the reason I realise this is because I've been told so by people much more senior to me. I do however believe that the time spent in the NE division in unit and the 2 weeks basic at Raleigh gives people the firm foundation they need to be able to apply themselves through their chosen career path.

    Don't get me wrong, there are good and bad officers just as there are in every walk of life and spending time as a junior rate may not necessarily make someone into a good officer. In time the good DE officers will have learned enough to be able to command the respect of their subordinates but in many instances the DE officers in question know considerably less than many of the AB’s, and I’m talking about the basics here like drill, marks of respect etc. It just looks very poor when someone who is supposedly senior to you cannot get the basics right.
     
  6. Was this intended to be tongue in cheek?

    I think it's worth recognising that officer employment in the RNR is somewhat different than in the regular service, however there are some elements which I would expect any officer, regardless of heritage, to be able to carry off. So we need to understand what the important elements are that we're looking for in selecting YOs and developing them.

    I've struggled a little over whether I agree with empathy here or not, but I think on balance it captures that element that I'd expect all officers to demonstrate. In that it's the confidence in ones position, recognising when to consult, when to delegate and when to make decisions in detail. In my experience the critical demonstration of that is when ones SRs try to take responsibility away, pulling out the look at my yards of experience, what do you think you know line. I may have paraphrased that last but it does happen more frequently than people might admit. One needs the confidence to take that opinion on board, but make up ones own mind, even when it's not agreed with.

    I've seen one or two YOs caught out there, not making their own decisions but just conveying what their SR has told them. When it went wrong the support dissolved, in part because the individuals in question didn't have the respect, having just buckled every time they were challenged over something.

    I'm unconvinced that Dartmouth really gives a realistic experiene, although acknowledge that it's a while since I went through and there have been huge changes subsequently. However agree the point, treating people like grown ups, who've never been treated otherwise in the RN environment does mean they're missing something.

    One could turn that rond and suggest that an RNR DE is more likely to have a bit more life experience than a baby going into Dartmouth at 18 having had a very cloistered and narrow existence up until then. The experience of qualifying is then different as well, a regular trundles along the production line, and it's quite a challenge to step off from it unless one is really, and I mean really, bad. A reservist has to reconcile work/ life balance with something quite challenging in it's own right.

    All that said I do think that the DE scheme misses some essential skills and has the potential to let down YOs in the longer term. The issues are more the basics, terminology, conduct, general RN awareness. Regulars aren't really taught several of these things either, they just have to pick it up through immersion.

    I'm unconvinced that the scheme is a wise idea, but I do think it's possible to rose tint the value of time on the lower deck.

    fwiw I'm also moderately unconvinced by the arguments for it anyway, there is a demographic hump which will denude the senior grades in a very short period of time, although to me that's just an opportunity ;), but the same thing exists at the SR level. There is a risk that by extracting people for the wardroom we reduce the pool of good candidates for advancement to make up that gap.
     
  7. The only real value of lower deck time in the RNR is lower deck sea time. There being no RNR equivalent of what was called DTS in my day in the RN. We realy were the lowest form of human life on board often singled out by wearing bright green dockyard matie's ovies. Did I gain any thing from it? You bet I did. It is often said that a good leader would not expect a man to do any thing he would not do himself. DTS enabled me to do all those things I would not chose to do again.

    Of couse the flip side of the argument is that all the modern RNR officer needs to be good at is admin. The RNR can't teach you that so civvy administrators stand a very good chance of having a long and succesful RNR career. (With out the need of sea time.)
     

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