Question for Royal Naval Reservists

Q

QUIBERON

Guest
Hi Folks,

Been in the reserve for a couple of months now and really enjoying it. But theres some nagging views on the whole supporting RN thing that I really need answers to!

1. How do reservists act outside the military environment? Do they keep the military personality with them through their workplace? Or do they 'switch it off'?

2. On going on deployments are you really recognised as part of the Royal Navy? Are you appreciated or seen as not relevant?

3. In terms of promotion, I've heard it's a challenge just to get onto the LH course each year. How straightforward is promotion? And, are you recognised within your unit?

4. Looking at some of the staff at my unit, I don't see them as true RN types (no offence), but I see them as civilians acting as military people with half the RN standard - and thats hard to shake off when your in there. Even the CO is a civilian! When talking to each other, do you regard yourselves as military or the sea cadet type?

5. When doing the job, how do you fit it all in? Is it done through monthly/yearly planning? What do you tell your employer about going on deployment?

6. Do you see it as a hobby or another job? Does your branch/rank reflect the type of job you're doing?

7. What on earth do RNR officers do? I always thought there was no such thing as a part-time manager!?

Cheers
Quib
 

Uncle_Albert

War Hero
7. What on earth do RNR officers do? I always thought there was no such thing as a part-time manager!?

I can only speak for myself; this is what I do.

In unit, secretary for ratings.
On mobilisation and exercises, the branch role (which in my case does involve ships, but that's pretty unusual :p ), although in my experience I very rarely do it for the RN; I generally do it as an RN contribution to NATO.
 

Purple_twiglet

War Hero
Moderator
Quiberon

My answers below reflecting my strictly personal views as a relatively long serving and operationally experienced individual.

1. How do reservists act outside the military environment? Do they keep the military personality with them through their workplace? Or do they 'switch it off'

Personally I keep my military personality at a distance from my real life. It’s a job, its nothing more than that, and I switch into role when required. The only times in life I’ve found myself being ‘military’ outside the RNR has been a few genuine crisis moments like being present when someone fell onto a railway track when I was at the station and no one took charge – then my training kicked in and I led the situation until the ambulance arrived. I doubt I’d have done that without military training. Beyond this, I don’t wear navy t-shirts, don’t go around using jackspeak, and try to avoid being more jack than jack.

2. On going on deployments are you really recognised as part of the Royal Navy? Are you appreciated or seen as not relevant?

Depends entirely on the job you are doing. My OPTAG had 4 RNR on it, and it wasn’t until the last day that anyone pinged we were not full time RN (and ironically the only 2 ND’s on the range training came from regular ‘green lidded’ RN personnel!). My deployed job was fine, and no one really cared. You will get some banter, but if you turn up on deployment with a ‘I’m the only reservist in the village’ attitude, then expect to have problems. Turn up, do your job and be judged on your professional abilities and its much easier.

3. In terms of promotion, I've heard it's a challenge just to get onto the LH course each year. How straightforward is promotion? And, are you recognised within your unit?

Total nightmare for promotion. I’ve done a tour in the higher rank, done all my promotion courses and been qualified and recognised as working at next higher level for several years now. Despite this, there have been no promotions in my area for nearly five years and there are plenty of people more senior than myself out there. I think there is denial about how low morale is in certain areas given the lack of opportunity. The combination of too old ‘deployment dodgers’ occupying billets, and the lack of promotion for younger generation who are expected to deploy to cover the aforementioned ‘dodgers’ in acting rank, but have no opportunity to keep it on return, has led to some very disgruntled people out there who feel there is no opportunity for them and see little point in staying.

4. Looking at some of the staff at my unit, I don't see them as true RN types (no offence), but I see them as civilians acting as military people with half the RN standard - and thats hard to shake off when your in there. Even the CO is a civilian! When talking to each other, do you regard yourselves as military or the sea cadet type?

There is a lack of RNR professionalism in some quarters, arguably brought about by the RN culture of not regarding the RNR as worthy of significant investment. The RNR makes up 10% of the Naval Service manpower bill, making it a fighting arm of size equivalent to the FAA or Submarine Service. Despite this, there is no desire to put high flying good staff officers and ratings into RNR jobs in the CMR or unit structure. If they were made competitive promotion jobs, then I’d argue the ethos would quickly shift. Posting final tour PSIs in doesn’t help build a cutting edge ethos, it just makes it feel like a quiet backwater. I’ve yet to meet an RN officer who admits to wanting to become CMR as a career goal – that needs to change.


5. When doing the job, how do you fit it all in? Is it done through monthly/yearly planning? What do you tell your employer about going on deployment?

Generally looking ahead and trying to find the time when my organisation tells me what it wants doing. Employer has to know about deployment, as you want to keep them on side where possible.

6. Do you see it as a hobby or another job? Does your branch/rank reflect the type of job you're doing?

Used to see it as a second career where I was keen and motivated. I spent a lot of my spare time helping do stuff on top of regular work to keep things ticking over. Today I see it as a hobby because the RNR is not willing to invest in me as an individual to make it a career.

7. What on earth do RNR officers do? I always thought there was no such thing as a part-time manager!?

God knows – I’ve been unemployed in the RNR for nearly 2 years, despite my best efforts to get a job. When you ask for one you get people getting cross with you for not accepting there is apparently no work for you to do. There is no career planning, no career management of the officer cadre to grow future high quality and operationally experienced staff officers, more of a ‘if you hang around long enough then you’ll get a job eventually provided you don’t show too much enthusiasm by asking for one’.
I’ve gone from keen to utterly disillusioned in barely 18 months. I find myself at times actively hating the RNR and everything it stands for. I think it could be amazing, but instead it clings to the worst practises of the old school RN, stamps on initiative, has a deeply unpleasant culture to anyone who wants to do more and be more. I find it worrying and telling that I am one of only two officers left from my entry class, barely 12 years ago, and that now I too desperately want to leave. Its only the need to pay some large bills off that keep me in at the moment. My resgnation letter is written, and I am now counting the days till I can afford to hand it in. That is a desperate state of affairs to reach, and its entirely been brought about by the actions of the RNR who will lose an experienced, specialised and difficult to replace quickly skillset for no reason other than their lack of investment in their people.

I really want my RNR mojo back, I really want to be part of the organisation again and I really want to love what I do. The fact is though that the RNR seems hellbent on pushing out those who love it, by treating them very badly indeed.
 
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Q

QUIBERON

Guest
@Purple_twilight - Exactly how I feel mate and I've only been in 6 months! Been thinking of going CIS but not sure... It really is a double-edged sword in terms of commitment! Are you two stripes then? What do you do in civilian life?
 

trehorn

War Hero
1. How do reservists act outside the military environment? Do they keep the military personality with them through their workplace? Or do they 'switch it off'?

If they do then they need to get a life. Don't get me wrong, i'm quite happy to talk about my RNR life if people are genuinely interested but if I hear myself slipping into Jack speak at any time i take myself outside and give myself a damned good thrashing. I have no problem at all with regulars or ex-regulars using it (it is theirs after all ;-) ) but hearing a 100% RNR using it sounds sad and pathetic. There are certain people in the RNR (including some good friends of mine) who over use it and people just look at them like they've got two heads. Luckily at the unit i'm at you'll get the p*ss ripped out of you if you start to slip into it.


2. On going on deployments are you really recognised as part of the Royal Navy? Are you appreciated or seen as not relevant?
This depends on so many things. Predominantly the way you conduct yourself and the people you're working with.
For the most part i've been largely accepted by the regulars i've worked with or been on courses with. There's always the exception and i've experienced that side too. I just wind them up by reminding them that i do there job "for fun" and that i have a "real job" on civvy street that pays me twice as much as they get and my RNR pay is just a little extra pocket money. Oh, I never forget to add in that i didn't know that we got paid when i first joined and i just love mentioning the B word ;-) very important.

I am however very happy to say that it is extremely rare for me to stoop to such levels and i only do it when absolutely necessary. Most of those i've come into contact with are good guys.


3. In terms of promotion, I've heard it's a challenge just to get onto the LH course each year. How straightforward is promotion? And, are you recognised within your unit?
Promotion can be difficult. It depends largely on your branch. I know some complete cretins who've been promoted quickly because they've got their face known by the right people. The WARSEA branch has so many courses to do these days it takes forever to get your hooks.

4. Looking at some of the staff at my unit, I don't see them as true RN types (no offence), but I see them as civilians acting as military people with half the RN standard - and thats hard to shake off when your in there. Even the CO is a civilian! When talking to each other, do you regard yourselves as military or the sea cadet type?
If you're talking about Perminant Staff then I would agree with the comments from PT about perminent staff. Getting a draft to an RNR unit should be offered to people who actually give a toss about the RNR and want to be part of it. I know some great guys who've really bought into the RNR and in turn have really enjoyed their time as PSI's. Unfortunately this is a rarety and for the most part they're a waste of space who seem to enjoy putting obsticles in peoples way as opposed to facilitating progression.

I heard that if perminant staff are designated as Perminant Staff Instructors then the unit recieves certain "benifits" as apposed to if they were designated Perminant Staff? Not sure if anyone can clarify this? I honestly can't remember the last time any PSI's undertook any form of instruction either on weekends or drill nights.

I see all the RNR people in my unit as civillians acting as military people because that's what they are. I'd be disapointed if any of them saw themselves as anything different. I cringe when i see RNR's on facebook who name their occupation as the Royal Navy or even RNR or in some cases Warfare Specialist. They need to get a grip. I had an URNU try to add me on Linkedin and he had his occupation as Royal Navy. Very sad.

I would take issue with the "half the standard" comment. I've seen some pretty shabby drills from the RN over the years. Some through ignorance and some through just not giving a toss. Don't get me wrong, the RNR can be as bad but i think saying they're half the standard is vastly over egging it.

In the few months you've been in what experience of the RN do you have to compare the RNR to?

5. When doing the job, how do you fit it all in? Is it done through monthly/yearly planning? What do you tell your employer about going on deployment?

As PT says. Keep yourself up to date with your branch requirements and keep your employer informed.

6. Do you see it as a hobby or another job? Does your branch/rank reflect the type of job you're doing?
I see it as a hobby but it is a hobby i take very seriously. By that i don't mean i don't have any fun. I have loads of fun but I put lots of effort into making sure that the unit i attend achieves as much as possible with the resources we have available. I do my best to make sure people enjoy themselves and make the most of what the RNR has to offer. The money is a bonus but I don't do it for that. I do it for what i can achieve and experience. I do things i don't particularly want to do because my unit needs me to and i don't want to let the unit down or the people down. What we achieve with what we have and very little support is truly amazing and makes me proud.

7. What on earth do RNR officers do? I always thought there was no such thing as a part-time manager!?
No idea at all. At a guess they seem to spend their time looking for SR's and JR's to do things for them. That may be a little harsh on my part but perhaps that's through ignorance because i honestly can't see what the majority do actually do. There are obvious exceptions. I know our OIC works his tail off for both his civvy employer, the unit and his young family. He puts up with lots of grief that he shouldn't have to.

That's my two peneth worth anyhoo. Not the official line but the truth as i see it.
 
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Blackrat

War Hero
Moderator
Book Reviewer
I find this interesting reading. I would have thought that the RNR would be like the TA. When i was in regular service, the TA (not all of it, but around 70%) was looked on as a joke. Now, it's a different matter. Certainly in London, the amount of operational experience to be found in your average TA unit is quite high and they are highly regarded by their regular counterparts. I suppose the Army way is if you can do the job, you're ok with me. A lot of TA bods are highly motivated these days and would probably look on their service as their real job. I think the Navy really needs to take a long hard look at it's volunteers, their morale and how the whole shebang is run and do some major housekeeping.
 

trehorn

War Hero
The grumpy one's tend to be the more noisy one. Things are improving. The RNR was left to wither on the vine for a long time and has changed a lot in the 12 years I've been in and I'm actually quite happy and content but I think much of that is down to the unit I'm with making great leaps forward. Investment in equipment is urgently required and training needs to be restructured to better accommodate the part time sailor. The RN has done some minor tweeks but not enough. Compressing a three week course into two weeks occasionally happens but there are many other courses that take a week that could be done regionally over a couple of weekends. The RN seem to fight this but the training pipeline needs to be shortened quickly. And whoever came up with the idea of New Entry doing the NMT100 before they've done their basic training needs to have a word with themselves.
 

Uncle_Albert

War Hero
And whoever came up with the idea of New Entry doing the NMT100 before they've done their basic training needs to have a word with themselves.

Veering slightly off-topic, did that die a death yet? I remember a few years ago there was a rumbling about everyone having to do it, which died even faster than most of the future-training rumours.
 

Blackrat

War Hero
Moderator
Book Reviewer
That's my point trehorn. Surely the RN would have asked their Army counterparts how they do things and adjusted accordingly? It's not rocket science. I mean, part timers can find the time to do SF selection, AACC and P Company, all courses that are extremely arduos and time consuming. Maybe more tweeking is required.
 

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