Author Topic: A Navy pilot’s take: The Air Force doesn’t have a pilot crisis, it has...  (Read 3502 times)

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Offline Lumber

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The way I understand it is that Army TacHel is OPCOM or OPCON to the Army Brigade its supports.

Is there no relationship between the Naval HelDet and the Ship?

Yep, that's exactly it... buried in all that blah blah I wrote was the HelAirDet is chopped to the ship (either OPCOM or OPCON).  But the full chain of command can still retain certain stuff, like risk levels...

The part in yellow...  :facepalm:

Imagine if we had risk levels in the army...
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Offline daftandbarmy

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The part in yellow...  :facepalm:

Imagine if we had risk levels in the army...

I think one of the Air Force risk levels relates to working with infantry :)
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Baz

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The part in yellow...  :facepalm:

Imagine if we had risk levels in the army...

You'll have to work really hard for me to agree to your sentiment.

Risk levels are simply a way for higher commanders to promulgate the amount of risk their aviation assets are to take to obtain an identification.  Those higher commanders are also Naval.  From experience (not directly risk levels, but other issues of aviation risk) it's better not to leave it up to individual ops rooms.

They don't take away from the capability of the appropriate commander to use his assigned assets for individual, unit, or collective self defence.  "Failure of a commander to engage the enemy when capable of doing so" is still a chargeable offence...

But yes, I fully support the responsibility of the Comd 1 Cdn Air Div to impose restrictions on the "normal" use of his airplanes in order that people up to and including ship CO's don't do anything stupid, by promulgating orders and other instructions including the chop message; but then let them get on with it and stay out of their shorts.

... and if the situation starts to change then the supported commander should go back and seek approval of higher levels of risk.  And don't use the argument that the situation may develop too quickly... that is a failure of the estimate and planning.

Edited to add: And circling back to the original post... contrary to how the original post may be read, pilot's in the USN are disproportionally represented at Command levels solely due to this; the difference is they tend to have had a lot more varied set of experiences at lower ranks than the USAF.  The CO of the Carrier is almost always a pilot, and the Comd CVW always is.  So of the 4 four ringers in the CSG (Carrier CO, Comd CVW, Comd DESRON, COS), 2-3 are aviators and only 1 is definitely surface... which makes a high proportion of the Comds CSG aviators as well.  Therefore there is a higher degree of awareness at Command levels of Naval Maneuver Forces of Aviation risks; of course, there is a *much* higher level of awareness at Command levels of Naval Aviation Forces of Maritime Warfare.

Edited again to add that the full quotation which I paraphrased is:
Misconduct of Commanders in Presence of Enemy
Offences by commanders when in action
73 Every officer in command of a vessel, aircraft, defence establishment, unit or other element of the Canadian Forces who
(a) when under orders to carry out an operation of war or on coming into contact with an enemy that it is the duty of the officer to engage, does not use his utmost exertion to bring the officers and non-commissioned members under his command or his vessel, aircraft or other materiel into action,
(b) being in action, does not, during the action, in the officer’s own person and according to the rank of the officer, encourage his officers and non-commissioned members to fight courageously,
(c) when capable of making a successful defence, surrenders his vessel, aircraft, defence establishment, materiel, unit or other element of the Canadian Forces to the enemy,
(d) being in action, improperly withdraws from the action,
(e) improperly fails to pursue an enemy or to consolidate a position gained,
(f) improperly fails to relieve or assist a known friend to the utmost of his power, or
(g) when in action, improperly forsakes his station,
is guilty of an offence and on conviction, if the officer acted traitorously, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life, if the officer acted from cowardice, is liable to imprisonment for life or less punishment, and in any other case, is liable to dismissal with disgrace from Her Majesty’s service or to less punishment.
http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/N-5/FullText.html
« Last Edit: April 27, 2017, 14:38:10 by Baz »

Offline Lumber

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You'll have to work really hard for me to agree to your sentiment.

Sorry, it's not that I disagree with them, just that it's one more thing I have to worry about...
“Extremes to the right and to the left of any political dispute are always wrong.”
― Dwight D. Eisenhower


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Offline Baz

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As you may have noticed I think Command and Control is one of the most important aspects of application of military force.

As an aside, as I tend to do, this is why these discussions of an officer ordered me to do blah (such as use a credit card) can get out of context.  We have reserved some rights and responsibilities to Commander's at all levels in order to accomplish the mission and defend assigned assets, but then some officer's start to try to use these rights (and seem to forget about their responsibilities) to do stupid things.  But IMHO when a Commander issues an order it should be followed (unless manifestly illegal) and let the court martial sort it out.

Offline Eye In The Sky

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The fact that aircrew junior officers don't have any leadership experience isn't unique to the USAF.  On the Aurora fleet, until you're a Crew Commander (which isn't until your last year or so on your first operational tour, and even that's been very quick compared to "the old days"), generally you don't have any leadership role at all on squadron.

Most of our skippers have been Plts my time on Sqn.  Does the TacNav not rate as a leadership role?  I know, its a crew position vice Sqn but...

There are other roles in which one can pursue leadership.  Sqn, Wing Secondary duties are 2 quick examples.  Demonstrating the ability and motivation can assist you in getting to crew and/or sqn leadership roles more quickly maybe?

I believe it works in the NCO world;  go-getters get noticed kinda thing.
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Most of our skippers have been Plts my time on Sqn.  Does the TacNav not rate as a leadership role?  I know, its a crew position vice Sqn but...

There are other roles in which one can pursue leadership.  Sqn, Wing Secondary duties are 2 quick examples.  Demonstrating the ability and motivation can assist you in getting to crew and/or sqn leadership roles more quickly maybe?

I believe it works in the NCO world;  go-getters get noticed kinda thing.

Like fixing engines with Irish Whiskey? :)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortress_(2012_film)
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Eye In The Sky

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What could possibly go wrong with the combination of *whiskey* and *NCOs*??   ;D
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Offline E.R. Campbell

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So the follow-on question becomes: Is there a leadership problem in the RCAF?  If so, are root causes the same?  And what's the solution?


We saw some of this sort of thing in the RCAF (and by extension the CF) back at the time of unification ~ mid 1960s, early 1970s. The Canadian Forces Staff School, for example, in Toronto ~ an eight to ten week course, I think, not the Staff College at Armour Heights ~ was there because junior Air Force officers, especially pilots, had little if any chance to learn basic, unit level leadership and staff duties in flying squadrons. Junior Army and Navy officers, on the other hand, were shocked at what was taught as the Staff School: it was, I was told, stuff they had learned on Phase II and IV and practiced as Lts and Capts on regimental duty.

Don't get me wrong: I have rarely met a pilot who was not intelligent (and usually smart, too) but they, way back when, needed the Staff School because their Phase training was flying, Flying, FLYING and then they had no "regimental staff" jobs to learn low level staff work "on the job."

We were told that the Staff School would prepare junior officers to be Coy 2I/Cs and Adjutants; I was told, by people who attended, that it was useless ~ it prepared junior officers to do the sort of admin work that a rifle platoon commander does, day-by-day, and nothing more.

Obviously, from these comments: I never attended ~ I'm only repeating what was said back then.

I can affirm that in the 1970s and '80s the Communications and Electronics Branch, under intense pressure from COs in the field, reshaped Phase II, III and IV Army training to add more and more SD & Military Writing, Unit Admin & Discipline (essentially, when I was a cadet that meant memorizing a little, maroon, breast pocket pamphlet that was chock-a-block full of useful information) and Military Law. All that, I explained in a somewhat one sided one-on-one with the commandant of that school, had to happen without scrapping practical Signal Officer duties like radio link analysis and planning.
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Offline Lumber

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We were told that the Staff School would prepare junior officers to be Coy 2I/Cs and Adjutants; I was told, by people who attended, that it was useless ~ it prepared junior officers to do the sort of admin work that a rifle platoon commander does, day-by-day, and nothing more.

A good buddy of mine switched over from MARS to Pilot. He was just prior to OFP in the navy (meaning about 7 years in) before switching over, and is now in the middle of his pilot phase trg.

He is shocked at the difference between the level of staff work done by junior officers in the RCAF compared to the Navy. As a SLt in the Navy, you could get tasked with updating the ship's entire set of SOPs, and putting it together with a briefing package for the XO's approval. At the flight schools, they have trouble with basic memos, apparently.
“Extremes to the right and to the left of any political dispute are always wrong.”
― Dwight D. Eisenhower


Death before dishonour! Nothing before coffee!

Offline Dimsum

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A good buddy of mine switched over from MARS to Pilot. He was just prior to OFP in the navy (meaning about 7 years in) before switching over, and is now in the middle of his pilot phase trg.

He is shocked at the difference between the level of staff work done by junior officers in the RCAF compared to the Navy. As a SLt in the Navy, you could get tasked with updating the ship's entire set of SOPs, and putting it together with a briefing package for the XO's approval. At the flight schools, they have trouble with basic memos, apparently.

I switched from MARS to ACSO around the same timeframe.  I concur - and it'll be that way on squadron as well until they've done a few Cadet tours visits.
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Online Loachman

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I bet you 30 years ago, people were saying we'd never have separate Army, Navy and Air Force organizations with distinctive uniforms and rank insignia!

'Twas about thirty years ago that we began to receive/have inflicted upon us (not all were happy, for various reasons) these distinctive uniforms (fitting and, I'm pretty certain, issue were in 1987 in my case), and the "separate Army, Navy and Air Force organizations" are merely the previous organizations, renamed but unchanged save additional buttons-and-bows insanity.

The way I understand it is that Army TacHel is OPCOM or OPCON to the Army Brigade its supports.

No. This died in 2006.

When I was SSF G3 Aviation from 1989 to 1992, I had direct tasking authority over 427 Squadron for operational training missions in support of SSF training in the conveniently-undefined "local area" and Command and Liaison (C&L) missions for Comd SSF. I received Helquests from SSF units, liaised with them to determine what they really wanted as opposed to what they thought that they wanted, and composed Heltasks which went to 427 Squadron info 10 TAG HQ (the predecessor of 1 Wing).

The G3 Aviations in the Regular Force Brigades have not been able to directly task since the Dotcoms and 1 CAD's RACEs (now ACCEs) were stood up in late 2005/early 2006.

They, and the Combat Training Centre G3 Aviation and CMTC G5 Aviation, can now only create RFEs (stupidly- and ambiguously-named Requests For Effect) if they have reliable access to CSNI and the RFE System (which most do not have, so we create the RFEs on their behalf based upon Helquests forwarded by them, usually unimproved and often either missing important information or confusing, or both). We vet them, correct errors, and fill in varying numbers of blanks, and seek support  from our Squadrons. Once the latter happens, we mark the RFE "Supported" and "Approved by 1 Wing HQ", inform all of the directly-involved agencies, and consider it tasked - although it's not, technically, I suppose until 1 CAD puts it on the ATO (Air Tasking Order).

We create blanket RFEs to cover major exercises that enable the applicable G3 Aviation to task whatever resources we commit, but we do not use the command relationship designations. National-level exercises will have an ATF structure imposed, but we still create blanket RFEs as that system is also the tracking mechanism. The command and control measures have often differed over the years, but inevitably generate some confusion. I ignore them, because they have no bearing on my function - the resources committed no longer "belong" to us at that point. We monitor sitreps, but that's about it. The applicable G3 Aviation will still look after the day-to-day taskings, but those go through the ATF to the Tac Hel Det. I've never seen this system impede anything, but view it as an unnecessary layer regardless.

I performed the G3 Aviation function many times on exercise in the Good Old Days, always as a solo Captain save On Guard 90 in Pet, which were the two busiest and sleep-deprived weeks of my life. For that, I had an eighteen-year-old not-fully-qualified Reserve Sigs Private with a few months of experience to back me up - who, fortunately, was absolutely brilliant and could do about 90% of my job by the end.

I see neither need nor justification for anything bigger, except for sustained operations where another Captain and Junior NCO, both with brains and motivation, would be required.

All agencies other than the Reg F Brigades, CTC, and CMTC send their requests to the ACCE responsible for the RJTF in which they reside, and that ACCE creates the RFE. Once it's in the RFE System, we take it over.

Back on subject, I do not see a leadership crisis in Tac Hel (with space between) at all. We start by challenging fairly new Officers who happen to be Pilots with mission planning as soon as possible, ranging from simple, short, one-hel missions and working up from there, plus secondary duties. Second-tour Pilots stand fairly good chances to be Instructors in Portage, Moose Jaw, or Gagetown. We are a small and lean community, and everybody has a vested interest in making sure that every aspect works as well as possible and people are given development opportunities and challenged.

Sure, not everybody is perfect, but I am quite pleased with almost everything that I've seen in my thirty-five years in Tac Hel.

If only we could get back into the Army, wherein we were born and for which we exist, things would be almost perfect...

Offline daftandbarmy

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If only we could get back into the Army, wherein we were born and for which we exist, things would be almost perfect...

The grass is always greener on the other side of the apron.... :)
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Online Chris Pook

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You'll have to work really hard for me to agree to your sentiment.

Risk levels are simply a way for higher commanders to promulgate the amount of risk their aviation assets are to take to obtain an identification.  Those higher commanders are also Naval.  From experience (not directly risk levels, but other issues of aviation risk) it's better not to leave it up to individual ops rooms.

They don't take away from the capability of the appropriate commander to use his assigned assets for individual, unit, or collective self defence.  "Failure of a commander to engage the enemy when capable of doing so" is still a chargeable offence...

But yes, I fully support the responsibility of the Comd 1 Cdn Air Div to impose restrictions on the "normal" use of his airplanes in order that people up to and including ship CO's don't do anything stupid, by promulgating orders and other instructions including the chop message; but then let them get on with it and stay out of their shorts.

... and if the situation starts to change then the supported commander should go back and seek approval of higher levels of risk.  And don't use the argument that the situation may develop too quickly... that is a failure of the estimate and planning.

Edited to add: And circling back to the original post... contrary to how the original post may be read, pilot's in the USN are disproportionally represented at Command levels solely due to this; the difference is they tend to have had a lot more varied set of experiences at lower ranks than the USAF.  The CO of the Carrier is almost always a pilot, and the Comd CVW always is.  So of the 4 four ringers in the CSG (Carrier CO, Comd CVW, Comd DESRON, COS), 2-3 are aviators and only 1 is definitely surface... which makes a high proportion of the Comds CSG aviators as well.  Therefore there is a higher degree of awareness at Command levels of Naval Maneuver Forces of Aviation risks; of course, there is a *much* higher level of awareness at Command levels of Naval Aviation Forces of Maritime Warfare.

Edited again to add that the full quotation which I paraphrased is:
Misconduct of Commanders in Presence of Enemy
Offences by commanders when in action
73 Every officer in command of a vessel, aircraft, defence establishment, unit or other element of the Canadian Forces who
(a) when under orders to carry out an operation of war or on coming into contact with an enemy that it is the duty of the officer to engage, does not use his utmost exertion to bring the officers and non-commissioned members under his command or his vessel, aircraft or other materiel into action,
(b) being in action, does not, during the action, in the officer’s own person and according to the rank of the officer, encourage his officers and non-commissioned members to fight courageously,
(c) when capable of making a successful defence, surrenders his vessel, aircraft, defence establishment, materiel, unit or other element of the Canadian Forces to the enemy,
(d) being in action, improperly withdraws from the action,
(e) improperly fails to pursue an enemy or to consolidate a position gained,
(f) improperly fails to relieve or assist a known friend to the utmost of his power, or
(g) when in action, improperly forsakes his station,
is guilty of an offence and on conviction, if the officer acted traitorously, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life, if the officer acted from cowardice, is liable to imprisonment for life or less punishment, and in any other case, is liable to dismissal with disgrace from Her Majesty’s service or to less punishment.
http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/N-5/FullText.html

A bit behind the times but when I read that I immediately thought of this chap.



Admiral John Byng

Of whom Voltaire said:  "in this country, it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, in order to encourage the others" (Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres).

Apparently some countries get rid of admirals for not engaging the enemy.  Others apparently find other reasons.
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

Offline daftandbarmy

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A bit behind the times but when I read that I immediately thought of this chap.



Admiral John Byng

Of whom Voltaire said:  "in this country, it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, in order to encourage the others" (Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres).

Apparently some countries get rid of admirals for not engaging the enemy.  Others apparently find other reasons.

'No Captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.' Nelson
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon