Old Boys Club or Credible Fighting Force

Basically flicking through TV channels came across a Bremner,Bird and Fortune outtake on More4. Basically Bird and Fortune were doing the Satirical sit down interviews, this one was about the state of our Armed Forces. Its not exact but it went someting like this:-
B. So how many ships do we have now then.
F. Oh about 30.
B. 30 ships hmmm, how many Officers who are Commodores or above.
F. Oh I think the figure is about 106.
B. Good God thats 3 for every ship.
F. Well at least the ships will have an expierienced command.

Now Im not sure of the number of Senior Officers, but yes I do believe its too much. Do we really need all these Senior officers. Case in point. I was in Pompey a few months back when i bumped into an old Ops Officer. Asked him how it was going in his new job. He hated working at Marbat Staff, due to the fact hes gone from being a major player on a warship to a glorified tea boy at HQ. Now what kind of organisation can afford to pay someone 50+ grand a year to do nothing.
Plus I was hearing from a member of WMO that on the day they were asked to provide 4 ABs to a warship, they couldnt find anyone in the whole of devonport, but a sizable number of warfare officers got made Commander that very day.
Now Im not a bitter rating with a'them and us' attitude towards the wardroom, but I am concerned that we cant man our ships with ABs/LHs. Therefore the OC of our ships is badly compromised. Surely money should be thrown at keeping our lads in, i.e. by paying them more, than having more Senior Officers increasing their already sizable pensions.
Admins If Ive spoken out of turn please edit.


Lantern Swinger
yes far more than we need. But how many keep the title when they 'retire' to a fantastic pay out that mere ratings get??

Old, Bitter and twisted you say? Not me guv!


Book Reviewer
Bear with me and I will give you the breakdown of ranks/rates that we have it is interesting.

I'm not going to give you the usual "young man you don't see the big picture" piece, but there is an element of that in play which people often find hard to take.

There is beastie called the 'Requirement' which a bunch of clever folks in Leach/Victory buildings develop. It is the overall tool by which we know how many people and of what type/rank/rate in order to meet all of our tasking. They work out how many platforms we are likely to have, see's new projects (T45, CVF, ASTUTE), uses all of the Defence Assumptions (cyclical plans that tell Defence what 'challenges' we could face), have access to savings measures, recruitment figures etc etc all to turn the handle and come out with a figures that could say something like to meet the requirements of the Navy in 2015 we will need 35,123 personnel in the Naval Service from 2008 onwards or something along those lines...I can't remember the specifics but I think it also generates an 'n' year plan, that is updated each year. This is what primarily drives recruitment amongst other things.

This requirement takes in account of things like jobs in IPTs (helping to design and procure systems/platforms), MoD (creating policy), DSTL/Quinetiq (designing solutions), Joint HQ (running operations) etc etc all on top of the FLEET requirement.

So you can see we need more people than it may appear initially. Why so many Lt Cdrs and above, mainly because the jobs they go into need people of the rank to have influence and because they will (hopefully) have gained enoough experience in their career to prepare them to make the right decisions.

We're actually pretty poor at putting our people into these Centre (MoD) posts and still not overly well represented in the greater Joint Community (but this is improving) - the higher the rank of your people in these areas the greater they can influence the dark blue element, which is how the RN's interests are then best served.

All of this doesn't really get to answer what you asked but its shows why we have so many senior bodies. I don't think your old Ops is doing nowt for £50K at the Battlestaff, thats slightly disingenuous, but they will need someone with his skillset and experience.

There is a huge amount of what he is experiencing I have gone from a command position (big fish small pond) to just another Staff Officer (eeny weeny fish, ginackorous pond) before, its takes some adjusting!

As for finding 4 ABs, thats a good question, especially with Topmast up and 'running', rather than having the requirment cocked up this suggests our manning systems aren't right and/or our recruitment/retention isn't working.

Either way we all know we have a serious manpower problem that needs some serious investment.
Two separate points really ships have always tended to operate on reduced manning standards, though in my day being, certainly on a skimmer 5% understrength was no real problem it is probably more of a strain now. The idea is that in war you make up the numbers with the reserve.

As for senior officers I think we probably do have to many, but the numbers are more driven by the need to rotate senior officer round the MOD and joint positions. All three services should really get to gether and in a spirit of jointness kill of some of the senior officer positions. Until that happens no service is going to admit it cannot fill a joint position with the correct grade of officer so all will keep the game going hoping some one else makes the first move


Book Reviewer
If I had the solution I wouldn't be sitting fiddling with a civilian CV right now - I am as disillusioned as the next man!

One of the biggest drivers is money its as simple as that, we just don't have enough money to recruit the right people, train them and retain them.

Retention is part because people are different now, they have a totally different expectation to when I joined a messdesk; single cabins, broadband - all the things a civvy would ask for, but then we're not a civvy firm, so they don't get things how they want and off they go......

More money will only partly solve the retention issue, its just a sticking plaster.

Don't know!


Book Reviewer
If we are short of manpower at the AB / LH level, one answer must be to speed up the recruiting process where ever possible, one constantly reads on RR of New Entrants waiting well in excess of 12 months before starting, is it not possible to increase the volume at Raliegh to get them in earlier?
Never reached that stage myself but I think we still have a fair few middling to senior officers knocking around in NATO posts, foreign exchange jobs and as defence, naval or air (WAFUs only) attachés in embassies around the world.
Thanks wave_dodger for that reply, yes we need more representation at higher joint levels, but with manpower crisis at PVT/AB/SAC across the 3 armed forces the brains at MOD have to really start scratching their heads,its beyond me.
What I do find bemusing at the moment is the amount of ex Senior Officers complaining bitterly about the state of our Armed Forces. Its a pity that they werent so vociferous when they were in the job. Although the present head of the army is certainly making his feelings known.
letthecatoutofthebag said:
janner said:
. . . . is it not possible to increase the volume at Raliegh to get them in earlier?
Without stating the obvious, that would require, in particular, more POs in teaching billets at RALEIGH to run the extra divisons etc.
Ideally, DNR would be able to push more trainees through, but it would be difficult and expensive.

During my first time on the staff at Raleigh in the 80s we had many more trainees going through, but Basic Training was only 6 weeks in those days, as opposed to 9 weeks now.

Also, the Div staff and instructors now have to be selected and complete a special training package (Since Deepcut); the days of having a non-pref PO on holdover jumping in as a Div SR on day 1 are long gone.

In addition, you would need more Div staff at Phase 2, more instructors (civilian mainly so the contracts would need to be renegotiated), extra accommodation etc. It could be done, but unfortunately not in the short term, and not without spending the money.
The manning issue isn't about recruitment, its about retention. The majority of young lads and lasses I take to the table to submit their notice tell me they just dont enjoy the endless cleaning with no jollies. They joined the navy to see the world and are lucky if they get 2 runs ashore on a gulf deployment these days. Certainly on carriers these days we go almost no where of any interest any more. As for the Pongos and Crabs bless'em who would stay in if you had to go back to back to Iraq and Afghanistan. Their is a distict lack of incentive for the younger generation to hang around. As we say on here, "Its all stick and no carrot!"

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