Question for Royal Naval Reservists

Discussion in 'Royal Naval Reserve (RNR)' started by QUIBERON, Dec 31, 2013.

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  1. 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
     
  2. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Good questions.

    Question 7 especially. I look forward to reading the replies.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Stand by, stand by...........

    :happy1:
     

  4. Are you looking for us to tell you how to act? I'd go for like Steven Seagal in Under Siege.
     
  5. 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.
     
  6. Purple_twiglet

    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.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
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  7. @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?
     
  8. 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.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
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  9. Blackrat

    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.
     
  10. 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.
     
  11. 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.
     
  12. Blackrat

    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.
     
  13. Purple_twiglet

    Purple_twiglet War Hero Moderator

    Blackrat

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. There are two major issues which need addressing IMHO. Firstly the attitude and support offered by the RN, and secondly the attitude and culture of the RNR. The RN has traditionally never been quite sure what it really wants of the RNR and even now I suspect it would probably scrap it over a few other parts of the service. It has traditionally been seen to be two very separate services, and post war it was only really in the post 9/11 environment that the two groups actually worked together. Prior to this point it was arguably like sending loan service personnel off to random foreign navies – you’d send a few of your not so best & Brightest to be RNR PSIs’ and hope to wow them with your command of naval vernacular and your wooden leg.

    Today the RN sort of knows that the RNR can on occasions provide some useful niche skills for which its not really appropriate to maintain a fulltime career path, but where you can’t easily train someone in a hurry. I would argue that the medical branch specialists, the Info Ops branch, Maritime Trade Ops, the Media Branch and to a lesser extent the Intelligence Branch fall firmly into this category. Then you have a much larger block of people who do jobs which are nice to have, but where arguably the RN wouldn’t really notice if it didn’t have the capability any more as it never really twigged it had it in the first place. I’d put Logs, AW, MCM and SPO in this area. In other words, people doing good jobs and known about at a local level, but not recognised by the RN at a corporate level as being of major value to defence outputs.

    The RN needs to work out what sort of relationship it really wants with its RNR bretheren and fund it accordingly. The fact that 1SLs Christmas message this year made reference to the RN, the RFA, the civilian component and the Royal Marines, but no mention at all of the RNR/RMR is very telling about where 1SL and the Naval Staff see the value of the Reserve component at present – its so low on the radar he can’t be bothered to mention them in his Christmas message.

    The RN can address the problems in several ways – firstly by making CMR and the SO1 posts in units a regular post. In other words, turn them into command appointments for good SO1s to make up for the loss of platforms within the fleet and associated command opportunities. Turn the RNR units into Naval Regional Units, and then put a team of good people into support the CO. Recognise that a volunteer part time force has different motivators and drivers from a full time career force, and that putting good keen staff in will make retention rates soar. Stop using RNR units as dumping grounds for people you don’t want in the wider Fleet.

    Secondly, make the RN take a much more hands on attitude in the training of RNR personnel. While it is not always feasible to get RNR YOs to do fleet time, I would argue that each RNR unit needs an embedded RN warship which it will support. E.g. when warship is in home waters the RNR turn to for ceremonial divisions, have a weekend contribution to the ships party, the OOD is shadowed by RNR YOs and so on – bring the RNR into the Naval fold and let them feel part of something nautical. At present the constant complaint from new entry is the lack of opportunity to do anything maritime in nature – twinning is an easy win providing it is managed centrally (e.g. PORFLOT co-ordinate the twinned vessels to ensure that the RNR support those in home waters not away). Also make available opportunities for RNR personnel to go to sea and do deployments as sailors – don’t underestimate the loss of maritime skills in the RNR in the last 20 years since the RN chose to scrap MCM10 – they are non existent to all intents and purposes. We need to regain that maritime element that makes us part of a ‘naval’ service.
    Finally the RN need to realise that supporting the RNR is vital if they want some skills and trades to continue – turning up at a unit as one much reviled RN SO1 did a few years ago and telling a bunch of medics that if they don’t like the planned changes to their branch then don’t come back doesn’t work, because the medics didn’t come back and a thriving medical branch was destroyed overnight. I should know, I was their STO at the time.

    The next problem is working out why the RNR culture is so toxic and averse to recognising change. The problem seems to be that there is an inverse pyramid of experience versus seniority in the system. Many more senior RNR types have never deployed and some to my utter disgust have actively gone out of their way to avoid deployment – they wear the rank but do not shoulder the responsibility. Many of the ‘younger’ generation have gone out and done it for real and some of us have been outside the wire, and in some surprisingly dangerous situations.

    Despite this, the older generation continue to stand there and lecture us about how the system works and hold forth at training weekends with long diatribes about how the Navy has gone to the dogs and how it used to be better when we had XYZ capability. I’ve been on training weekends which have turned into a multi-hour drip fest about the wider RN by people who I know have spent years actively avoiding doing anything involving an operational tour.
    Those of us who have deployed then get more and more frustrated at the glacial pace of change, the maintenance of supposed views and refusal to draw on the operational experiences of those beneath them. I find it incredible still that having completed a very punchy operational tour, with a lot of time on the ground working with some very specialist assets that several years later, I have yet to have a single career conversation about how my operational tour can be taken as the starting point for a career posting plot, which in turn would enable me to do posts linked to my experience and then develop as a staff officer. Instead my Op Tour is parked in the ‘well wasn’t that fun now go away and stop asking for a job before I get really pissed off’ box. It is astonishing that absolutely zero planning or forsight seems to go into maintaining a postings plot to know which of the RNR have a wealth of operational experience, and then posting them to spread this experience among the organisation.

    I would try to introduce proper neutral career managers who can manage the plot of RNR talent and post people according to their development needs, not on who is in or out of favour at the time. I find it incredible that I have never had a sit down conversation where I’ve been told, the following posts need new incumbents in the next 2-3 years, which would you like to be considered for, and our aim is to grow you to ensure that you can compete actively for this level of posts in the 4-5 year plot. Talent management is non existent and those of us who want to compete and try to be involved are seen as trouble makers (I for one am certain I will be bollocked by people for my comments here).

    The RNR needs to take a long hard look at how the branch / unit split works, and see if it can do things better there too. The unit is an outdated concept in my view, which sounds good on paper but is dying a slow death. Going to RNR Units now is like visiting a ghost town most nights – yet huge effort is expended in trying to arrest the decline. Why not go the way of the RAUXAF and instead scrap drill nights entirely, but have ‘open weekends’ where you can turn up every Saturday for a full or ¼ day to either do admin, do RNFT or do a training programme before going for a beer afterwards. The obsession that training can only be delivered every Tuesday night for 2 hours is causing us to lose recruits – for instance some time ago I went to a drill night where a batch of potential recruits had arrived to see what we do. The first hour was spent listening to a very dull man from MOD IT telling us in great depth about the amazing new MOSS IT system. You could see people falling asleep in the overly hot room – and then to add insult to injury he got to the end and said ‘but 90% of you don’t need to know any of this anyway as your permissions wont enable you to see it’. In other words I’ve just wasted an hour of an evening learning something totally irrelevant to me, and the recruits you had there will never come back. Genius planning there.

    Finally I’d ask the question about why recruitment and not retention is the focus for the RNR. If we are getting retention right, then our recruiting will drop as we need less people to fill the units up. I am constantly astounded at how there is a steady flow of new entry recruits who do a well structured programme only to get to branch level and realise there is no coherent programme for them and they leave. The wastage rate from new entry to AB1 seems to be extremely high simply because we don’t get it right. I will watch with interest as we move towards hitting the target for FR2020, as I think we’re focusing on one number, and not numbers in the right places. My worry is that we may hit the headline figure of roughly 3000, but most of them will be new entry / AB level and not the more senior LH/PO levels that we actually need. In other words, its coming in at the bottom, but we are not translating this into long term retention.
    Retention doesn’t take much, but when the RNR I regularly see offers no career prospects, offers no ability to deliver training, no ability to let you be regarded as a valued asset with a proper mapped out career path and idea of what the RN wants from your skills, then its no wonder people are leaving in droves.

    I’ve looked again at my resignation letter and in it there is a very simple section on what would have kept me in the RNR – a career interview with someone empowered to appoint me to a post, a sense that there is a credible career path for my specialisation, and a sense that the training I do is relevant to the outputs the RN wants from me would be enough to keep me in. It wouldn’t take much, but instead that seems to much to hope for. Such a shame, such a waste.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
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  14. Blackrat

    Blackrat War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    P_T

    An excellent post that has given me, an outsider, a lot of insight. It is glaringly obvious that the RN & RNR are pulling against each other and not together. I'm really surprised that the RNR doesn't have many ex-regulars in it's ranks. The TA certainly does and this really helps. Also, a lot of regular SNCO's want to get posted to TA units as PSI's as this does their career a lot more good as it ticks lots of boxes for promotion etc. The Army is now, more than ever, one unit as opposed to regular and TA service. It really looks like the RN has a useful arm which it has no idea whatsoever how to use.
     
  15. Purple_twiglet

    Purple_twiglet War Hero Moderator

    Blackrat - about to head out so fast reply,but my understanding (happy to be corrected) is that under current regs, if an ex-regular joins the RNR, they forfeit their pension for the duration of their service. Why sacrifice thousands a year of income for the sake of a few days RNR pay?
     
  16. Blackrat

    Blackrat War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Ah. That answers that one then. Fair enough.
     
  17. I mentioned this once before somehere. When I came outside as a 22 year SR I wanted to join a RNR unit near where I then lived. This was near a large Naval base and so should have been 'cutting edge' with regards to recruiting etc.

    There are only so many times one can bang their head against a wall beore deciding enough is enough.

    I became an Auxiliary Coastguard instead.
     
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  18. PT hit it on the head on 2 points: as a Regular, I have no idea what the vast majority of the RNR do, and what they bring to the party; RNR people management is appalling.

    I would never, ever, volunteer for a job in CMR/supporting the Reserves, and if assigned there, would take it as instruction that my career was over.
     
  19. Blackrat

    Blackrat War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    That's an interesting view. Although some regular Army SNCO's would think that, some actively seek these kind of posts because as i've mentioned before, these posts tick boxes. How odd that two services views on their reserves differ so much.

    I've no idea about the RAF Reserves by the way. I don't really care either.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. I've given my reasons before, but more than happy to do so again....

    To remain on track as a Warfare Officer, there are certain key points to be hit - pass CQ2, do well as an XO/MCMV CO (known collectively as XCAB) and have a strong job either immediately before or straight after XCAB. Those should, and I emphasise should, get you in the running for promotion to Cdr and selection for FF/DD Sea Command (SASB). I do not know of anyone, repeat anyone, who has come from CMR to go to XCAB, and perhaps more importantly, gone from CMR to promotion and SASB. Given that, why on earth would I hazard my career by going to CMR? PJHQ, FOST, bits of NCHQ and one or two other jobs are the things that get you SASB'd, not Reservists.

    More importantly, I'm not willing to be the test weight either!
     
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