Author Topic: Probe of soldier's suicide reveals hazing, harassment, fight club at Wpg armoury  (Read 14770 times)

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Offline FJAG

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For want of a better term, some good old 'Managing by Walking Around'.

When senior leaders spend all their time making PowerPoint slides, versus engaging with the soldiers, things tend to go sideways in one way or another....

Sadly, "Managing by walking around" was not a technique taught to me as a junior officer in the 70s and one I never observed happening around me during my years in the regular force. I only encountered the term just before leaving the regular force in 81 but then applied it when I was company commander of HQ company at Dundurn during the annual trade school there where my CSM and I randomly walked around the various platoons and sections while they were doing their jobs. We solved the vast majority of issues right there on the spot.

I liked the process so much that when I became a District Legal Advisor, I adopted a "legal services by walking around" process whereby every week on parade nights, I visited the Adjt and RSM of a different unit or two just for coffee and a chat. Same thing. Issues were solved before needing to be committed to paper or a phone call. Sometimes problems were solved that the unit hadn't even recognized as a problem.

IMHO, education in "MBWA" should be part of every officer's training and every unit should ensure officers have sufficient time available to practice it regularly.

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Offline daftandbarmy

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I visited the Adjt and RSM of a different unit or two just for coffee and a chat.

 :nod:

The more senior we get in rank, the more important are these two tools in our leadership toolboxes.



“To stand on the firing parapet and expose yourself to danger; to stand and fight a thousand miles from home when you're all alone and outnumbered and probably beaten; to spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary.”
— Jerry Pournelle —

Offline Navy_Pete

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That's one thing that really gets lost in the shuffle with the various matrixed projects working in different locations, and the freeze on traveling. A huge amount of things get sorted out over coffee, and not at the actual meetings, so there are some things you just can't do via teleconf.

Offline CountDC

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How many CWO does the unit have?  I have only ever seen one at the reserve units and that would be the RSM.

eligible for promotion in Aug 2015.  He joined in 2012 and just promoted to Pte(T).  From that I lean towards he had just completed his trade training and expected to be promoted immediately to Cpl.  Although this does happen a lot it is not a mandatory thing. There is the CoC recommendation to promote or not promote.  Some units (most likely very few) that will require a period of observation as a trained pte prior to promote to Cpl.  Last reserve location I worked the promotion policy stated that a period of observation to confirm functionality was mandatory.  Was that checked for? 

Vandalized Locker - A report to his superiors would not generate anything to be put in his file (assume they are referring to his pers file).  That should be in the harassment file that should have been created usually by the Chief HRA and/or Adjt.  I think pictures should have been taken and then the locker cleaned up.  Do have to wonder why it took so long.

Summer job as "camp leader" ?  What is that and how did they determine he was well qualified for it?  Is that their assumption or do they have an actual assessment from the hiring agents stating it.  Unfortunately often mbrs don't receive responses to positions they apply for.  Look at REO's and more often now they are stating only suitable candidates will be notified. 

In the end no excuse for a harassment to be ignored if reported and observed which looks like that was the case by the action taken.  Be interesting to see the information that comes out as the case progresses and hopefully get answers to questions. 
“non-commissioned officer (NCO)” means a member holding the rank of sergeant or corporal.

QR&O's

Offline daftandbarmy

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How many CWO does the unit have?  I have only ever seen one at the reserve units and that would be the RSM.

eligible for promotion in Aug 2015.  He joined in 2012 and just promoted to Pte(T).  From that I lean towards he had just completed his trade training and expected to be promoted immediately to Cpl.  Although this does happen a lot it is not a mandatory thing. There is the CoC recommendation to promote or not promote.  Some units (most likely very few) that will require a period of observation as a trained pte prior to promote to Cpl.  Last reserve location I worked the promotion policy stated that a period of observation to confirm functionality was mandatory.  Was that checked for? 

Vandalized Locker - A report to his superiors would not generate anything to be put in his file (assume they are referring to his pers file).  That should be in the harassment file that should have been created usually by the Chief HRA and/or Adjt.  I think pictures should have been taken and then the locker cleaned up.  Do have to wonder why it took so long.

Summer job as "camp leader" ?  What is that and how did they determine he was well qualified for it?  Is that their assumption or do they have an actual assessment from the hiring agents stating it.  Unfortunately often mbrs don't receive responses to positions they apply for.  Look at REO's and more often now they are stating only suitable candidates will be notified. 

In the end no excuse for a harassment to be ignored if reported and observed which looks like that was the case by the action taken.  Be interesting to see the information that comes out as the case progresses and hopefully get answers to questions.

I have no knowledge of this particular situation, but one big issue I've always had is that the realities of Class A service mean that leaders can go for weeks without laying eyes on, or speaking to, some of their troops. Not everyone can make it to every parade night and training event, all the time. Many don't communicate by email or social media. Some are loners and don't connect with their peers.

This makes the informal information hotline, or 'jungle telegraph, even more important to communicate issues as and when they occur.

It breaks down fully when the victims can't, or don't, parade, engage or otherwise communicate issues for various reasons.

“To stand on the firing parapet and expose yourself to danger; to stand and fight a thousand miles from home when you're all alone and outnumbered and probably beaten; to spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary.”
— Jerry Pournelle —

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Sadly, "Managing by walking around" was not a technique taught to me as a junior officer in the 70s and one I never observed happening around me during my years in the regular force. I only encountered the term just before leaving the regular force in 81 but then applied it when I was company commander of HQ company at Dundurn during the annual trade school there where my CSM and I randomly walked around the various platoons and sections while they were doing their jobs. We solved the vast majority of issues right there on the spot.



I had exactly the reverse experience as a soldier, NCO and officer in the 1960s. Management by wandering about was almost the norm ... we expected to see the CO and OCs almost everywhere and anywhere ~ sometimes just looking, more often than not stopping, asking questions, maybe just chatting. Senior NCOs were busy doing both administration and planning. My memory says that colonels expected to see subalterns in coveralls, inspecting vehicles and equipment ~ understanding how weapons and APCs actually worked, for example. When the infantry became mechanized some units adopted the RCAC habit of "stables parade." That works, too.

My sense, no proof, just bar chat at reunions and so on, is that modern COs are overloaded with administrivia from too many HQs ~ stuff that, in my days in command, late 1970s and early '80s, would never have been allowed to leave Mobile Comand HQ.

"Fight clubs' have been around for a looooong time ... they were fairly open in the 1960s, every unit had a boxing team until about 1966 or '67 and there were active sub-unit programmes that aimed to "foster" fighting spirit and produce regimental level boxers. We also had unarmed combat programmes that often got pretty aggressive. This was, usually, all overseen by Physical Training Instructors; sometimes the unit MO didn't approve, sometimes he did. The thing was that the institutional Arny, from the top down, "liked" rough, tough physical activity. There was a lot of angst when (mid to late '60s) boxing was done away with. Some people thought that was a serious mistake. There had, in my experience, always been some (maybe too much) tolerance of "rough and tumble," including settling disputes with fists.

Just some personal observations ...



It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline LittleBlackDevil

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I remember reading about this when it first happened, then sort of lost track of it ... very sad and disconcerting to read about this. Especially so since it involved my old regiment.

I was an officer with the R Wpg Rif in the late 90s into the early 2000s. I had no inkling of anything like this going on when I was there, but I can't say that doesn't mean it wasn't happening. I'll admit, coming out of my phase training I had absolutely zero clue about leading/managing when in garrison. I was taught absolutely nothing about that in Gagetown, we were only taught how to command in the field. I could command a platoon in the field competently but looking back I was not a leader at the armouries.

Aside from doing some power point presentations, the only contact I had with my troops was when I interviewed everyone in the platoon when I first was assigned. Otherwise I just let my platoon 2IC run the show. I make no excuses for this -- it's on me that I didn't ask questions or take more initiative rather than sitting around thinking I didn't know what I was doing. At 19/20 I was probably also too young and stupid for the job.

Not sure if this is still the case with the unit and infantry officer training.

Anyway, I found the conversation about "Management by wandering around" informative. It definitely didn't happen by any of the officers as far as I can recall when I was with the Rifles. I was a rifleman for about six months before I was made an OCDT and I don't remember ever encountering an officer during that time period.

Offline daftandbarmy

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I remember reading about this when it first happened, then sort of lost track of it ... very sad and disconcerting to read about this. Especially so since it involved my old regiment.

I was an officer with the R Wpg Rif in the late 90s into the early 2000s. I had no inkling of anything like this going on when I was there, but I can't say that doesn't mean it wasn't happening. I'll admit, coming out of my phase training I had absolutely zero clue about leading/managing when in garrison. I was taught absolutely nothing about that in Gagetown, we were only taught how to command in the field. I could command a platoon in the field competently but looking back I was not a leader at the armouries.

Aside from doing some power point presentations, the only contact I had with my troops was when I interviewed everyone in the platoon when I first was assigned. Otherwise I just let my platoon 2IC run the show. I make no excuses for this -- it's on me that I didn't ask questions or take more initiative rather than sitting around thinking I didn't know what I was doing. At 19/20 I was probably also too young and stupid for the job.

Not sure if this is still the case with the unit and infantry officer training.

Anyway, I found the conversation about "Management by wandering around" informative. It definitely didn't happen by any of the officers as far as I can recall when I was with the Rifles. I was a rifleman for about six months before I was made an OCDT and I don't remember ever encountering an officer during that time period.

A great observation.... and well done for leading those interviews, not many do.

Kip Kirby made the famous observation that, in the Canadian Army, every Officer carries a Sergeant Major's pace stick in their knapsack. I believe that we are under the spell of the 'cult of the Warrant Officer.'

It goes like this: all Officers are 'stupid' (the more junior they are the dumber they are) and need to do what their much smarter and more experienced Warrant Officers tell them to do while staying out of the way, not sticking their noses in, and not asking dumb questions.

This cult is reinforced during Phase training where most of the Officer training is, ironically, not conducted by Officers. Most of the time, the Warrant Officers who conduct this training make sure that the OCdts know they are 'lower than whale ****', as one of my platoon staff at Gagetown reminded us regularly with great relish. As a result, Officers aren't really trained to deal with garrison based personnel issues because, as you note, that's all supposed to be handled by the Warrant Officers. Unchecked, this paradigm can result in a lack of objective command and control activity that can reveal and squash the usual range of bullying and harassment that might occur when there are 'bad apples' in the mix. There is no 'fault finding' to be done here, it's just the way we have evolved.

I am guilty of a variety of massive and unfair generalizations here, of course, but it's a prevailing culture that's hard to break out of. Managing by 'wandering around' (MBWA) is one way to cut through those bonds of culture.

The Effectiveness of Management-By-Walking-Around: A Randomized Field Study
Research has found that quality improvement programs that solicit frontline workers’ ideas, such as
MBWA, can have a beneficial impact on organizational outcomes (Dow et al. 1999, Powell 1995).
MBWA relies on managers to make frequent, learning-oriented visits to their organization’s
frontlines to observe work and solicit employees’ opinions (Packard 1995). Hewlett-Packard, the
company in which MBWA originated, attributed its success using MBWA to good listening skills,
willing participation, a belief that every job is important and every employee is trustworthy, and a
culture where employees felt comfortable raising concerns (Packard 1995). MBWA is similar to the
Toyota Production System’s “gemba walks” (Mann 2009, Toussaint et al. 2010, Womack 2011). In a
gemba walk, managers go to the location where work is performed, observe the process, and to talk
with the employees (Mann 2009). The purpose is to see problems in context, which aids problem
solution (Mann 2009, Toussaint et al. 2010, Womack 2011).

http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/12-113_9a2bc5e8-2f70-4288-bb88-aeb2de49e955.pdf

 


“To stand on the firing parapet and expose yourself to danger; to stand and fight a thousand miles from home when you're all alone and outnumbered and probably beaten; to spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary.”
— Jerry Pournelle —

Offline Remius

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This sort of thing hit me a couple of years ago.

I noticed one of the platoons not doing anything an milling about at the beginning of the training night.  I couldn't find the PL WO so I asked the Platoon commander what his troops were supposed to be doing and his answer was "I'm not sure, my Platoon WO hasn't arrived yet" 

We had a brief conversation about who is actually supposed to be leading...
Optio

Offline Blackadder1916

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Anyway, I found the conversation about "Management by wandering around" informative. It definitely didn't happen by any of the officers as far as I can recall when I was with the Rifles. I was a rifleman for about six months before I was made an OCDT and I don't remember ever encountering an officer during that time period.


Individual techniques may vary resulting in different outcomes.



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Offline daftandbarmy

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This sort of thing hit me a couple of years ago.

I noticed one of the platoons not doing anything an milling about at the beginning of the training night.  I couldn't find the PL WO so I asked the Platoon commander what his troops were supposed to be doing and his answer was "I'm not sure, my Platoon WO hasn't arrived yet" 

We had a brief conversation about who is actually supposed to be leading...

Nice one!  :rofl:
“To stand on the firing parapet and expose yourself to danger; to stand and fight a thousand miles from home when you're all alone and outnumbered and probably beaten; to spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary.”
— Jerry Pournelle —

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I found, watching from the fences as a lowly spr/cpl in the 80s & 90s, that there was a huge mistrust of NCOs from the officer corps. This undoubtedly came from the training system that, as noted above, was all conducted by Non Commissioned ranks. Particularly in the 80s, we never saw an officer except on parade. Hell, they even did PT by themselves, of course, they also got to eat off Royal Doulton place settings in the field. 
Apparently, a "USUAL SUSPECT"

“In peace there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility; but when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger; stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard-favor'd rage.”

 Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and start slitting throats

Offline daftandbarmy

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I found, watching from the fences as a lowly spr/cpl in the 80s & 90s, that there was a huge mistrust of NCOs from the officer corps. This undoubtedly came from the training system that, as noted above, was all conducted by Non Commissioned ranks. Particularly in the 80s, we never saw an officer except on parade. Hell, they even did PT by themselves, of course, they also got to eat off Royal Doulton place settings in the field.

OK, that's just weird. Especially for Canadians....
“To stand on the firing parapet and expose yourself to danger; to stand and fight a thousand miles from home when you're all alone and outnumbered and probably beaten; to spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary.”
— Jerry Pournelle —

Offline FJAG

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.... I believe that we are under the spell of the 'cult of the Warrant Officer.'

It goes like this: all Officers are 'stupid' (the more junior they are the dumber they are) and need to do what their much smarter and more experienced Warrant Officers tell them to do while staying out of the way, not sticking their noses in, and not asking dumb questions.

This cult is reinforced during Phase training where most of the Officer training is, ironically, not conducted by Officers. Most of the time, the Warrant Officers who conduct this training make sure that the OCdts know they are 'lower than whale ****', as one of my platoon staff at Gagetown reminded us regularly with great relish. As a result, Officers aren't really trained to deal with garrison based personnel issues because, as you note, that's all supposed to be handled by the Warrant Officers. Unchecked, this paradigm can result in a lack of objective command and control activity that can reveal and squash the usual range of bullying and harassment that might occur when there are 'bad apples' in the mix. There is no 'fault finding' to be done here, it's just the way we have evolved.

I am guilty of a variety of massive and unfair generalizations here, of course, but it's a prevailing culture that's hard to break out of. Managing by 'wandering around' (MBWA) is one way to cut through those bonds of culture.
...

You're bang on with this. As an officer cadet in the artillery my instructors were one captain instructor-in-gunnery and a warrant and two sergeant assistant instructors-in-gunnery. Most of our instruction came from the NCOs. This is very good for learning all the technical aspects of the job but, like others experiences, ends up being short on teaching basic leadership. While our AIGs treated us more like officers and gentlemen rather than scum, the fact is one still gets the feeling as a junior officer that one is getting in the way of things when trying to assert oneself.

I noticed a particular problem in the late seventies/early eighties just before I left the Reg F. At that time we'd had a solid decade of downsizing. As a result we had a long-term freeze on recruiting and the vast majority of our gunners were bombardiers with over a decade or two of time in rank who had done the same training over and over and over again. In the mid seventies recruiting started up again and suddenly we found ourselves with hundreds of young gunners and dozens of young lieutenants all raring to go but in between them stood a group of older, long in the tooth, and, quite frankly, bored and tired Snr NCOs who were generally resistant to challenging or innovative training. That was tough to work through.

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Offline Furniture

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So the key take away is that SNCOs are the problem, and officers are helpless victims?

Except that the entire system is designed, and run by officers. SNCOs exercise the authority granted them by their betters, so perhaps the officer corps should be looking inward before casting blame outward.

The unfortunate situation that started this thread was a failure of leadership at all levels, from Cpls all the way to the CO.

Also, even as a weather guy newly promoted to Cpl back in 2004 I knew about "MBWA". It's not some deep dark secret, it had been rather well articulated even down to the Cpl level by at least '04 when I put up my second hook.


« Last Edit: December 07, 2019, 00:15:30 by Furniture »

Offline FJAG

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So the key take away is that SNCOs are the problem, and officers are helpless victims?
...

No. No. No. That's the wrong takeaway from this. Problems in leadership can and do happen at every level. Different circumstances have differing results.

In any military that creates it's officer corps primarily by way of recruitment from the street (either direct entry or RMC or West Point or Sandhurst) rather than from within the ranks, you will naturally have a separate career stream for NCOs and commissioned officers where, generally, the NCOs will have age and experience on their side while junior officers commanding their first troop or platoon have neither.

In the British tradition of militaries (and we still pretty much are one of those) Snr NCOs have always been the bridge between the ranks and the officer corps at least within the battalion level. We have always depended very heavily on the Snr NCOs, especially at the platoon level, to educate and support junior officers, in their ability to command troops.

The point here is that such Snr NCOs have the dual responsibility of leading, training and protecting their troops while building the skills and confidence of their officers. Sometimes that system breaks down for any number of reasons: the officer is too stubborn (or stupid) to learn, the Snr NCO can't be bothered being an officer's baby-sitter or what have you. In the case I described above, the troops and junior officers were in their early twenties while the Snr NCOs were in their forties. Circumstances had created a significant age gap as a result of which the bridge between troops and officers wasn't working as it should.

I agree with you that the situation that started this thread was a failure at all levels. Unfortunately MBWA is negated by one of our systemic issues (especially in the reserves) where officers are all too often swamped in administrative matters that keep them in the office rather than out on the floor. That same division almost ensures that Snr NCOs have less and less time with their junior officers to help develop them properly. Also, typically for a reserve unit, such improper activities take place "after hours" or "off-site" where there is no supervision.

I also tend to agree with about MBWA at the Jnr NCO level. As a young gunner on my Jnr NCO course, I was certainly taught how to lead and closely supervise my subordinates because that was my main job. Quite frankly though, I didn't have to do much MBWA because basically the folks I looked after were usually within a few yards of me. I didn't get the same training at the officer cadet level. We did have training and exercises where we supervised others but those were usually our fellow cadets. We were taught very little about "garrison" leadership.

I sometimes wonder if some of these types of issues, as in the instant case, are really centered on the breakdown of the corporal rank. Back when I was a young gunner and bombardier, there was a distinct division amongst the junior ranks between the gunners on the one hand and lance bombardiers and bombardiers on the other.  Bombardiers were leaders who generally kept the more unruly junior ranks behaviour in check. Obviously today's bombardiers/corporals no longer fit that bill, and I sometimes wonder how much our master bombardiers/corporals in the reserves have taken up that leadership role when off the floor or not on exercise. Unfortunately I've been too long away from the coal face to know whether my suspicions have any basis in fact.

 :stirpot:
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Offline Jarnhamar

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Young officers don't have time to command their platoons because they're too busy dealing with insessent admin and metric gathering from the coc and HQ.


Besides do reserves need to train for anything larger than company level?
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Young officers don't have time to command their platoons because they're too busy dealing with insessent admin and metric gathering from the coc and HQ.


Besides do reserves need to train for anything larger than company level?

Nailed it x 2 IMHO  :nod:
“To stand on the firing parapet and expose yourself to danger; to stand and fight a thousand miles from home when you're all alone and outnumbered and probably beaten; to spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary.”
— Jerry Pournelle —

Offline Blackadder1916

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Young officers don't have time to command their platoons because they're too busy dealing with insessent admin and metric gathering from the coc and HQ.


Besides do reserves need to train for anything larger than company level?

Often that "incessant admin and metric gathering" are tasks assigned to young officers by their OC or Adjt as part of their development as officers.  Do you think that adjutants (the good ones anyway) magically appear all knowing.  Usually it's because in the past they have been given innumerable petty problems that they've had to research and provide a written response to a superior who harshly corrected their spelling, grammar and conclusions with gleeful application of the big red pencil.  At one time on those means it was similarly a common response to a poorly drafted post.  As an officer, it was part of my learning experience as well as how I provided necessary experience to young officers who worked for me.
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Often that "incessant admin and metric gathering" are tasks assigned to young officers by their OC or Adjt as part of their development as officers.  Do you think that adjutants (the good ones anyway) magically appear all knowing.  Usually it's because in the past they have been given innumerable petty problems that they've had to research and provide a written response to a superior who harshly corrected their spelling, grammar and conclusions with gleeful application of the big red pencil.  At one time on those means it was similarly a common response to a poorly drafted post.  As an officer, it was part of my learning experience as well as how I provided necessary experience to young officers who worked for me.

A great way to learn, of course, but one that has been largely replaced with 100 trivial emails per month (at least).

One way I got my platoon commanders to connect more effectively with their troops was to have them meet me in my office monthly and walk me through each one on their strength. I’d check with the CSM afterwards to see if they knew their stuff, of course.

It also helped me get my head in the game for PERs, course and employment season etc.
“To stand on the firing parapet and expose yourself to danger; to stand and fight a thousand miles from home when you're all alone and outnumbered and probably beaten; to spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary.”
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Offline Old Sweat

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This has been a feature of Canadian (and probably all British-pattern) armies for a very long time, dating far back from when I first encountered it in the early sixties in Gagetown. Remember the old drinking ditty that went "Old King Cole was a merry, old soul, And a merry, old soul was Old King Cole". One verse went "He called for his pipe in the middle of the night, And he called for his subalterns three. We do all the work said the subalterns . . ."

Offline Blackadder1916

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This has been a feature of Canadian (and probably all British-pattern) armies for a very long time, dating far back from when I first encountered it in the early sixties in Gagetown. Remember the old drinking ditty that went "Old King Cole was a merry, old soul, And a merry, old soul was Old King Cole". One verse went "He called for his pipe in the middle of the night, And he called for his subalterns three. We do all the work said the subalterns . . ."

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2134977?image=1

or for the Gunner in you. . .  https://lyricsplayground.com/alpha/songs/o/oldkingcole.html
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Offline FJAG

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https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2134977?image=1

or for the Gunner in you. . .  https://lyricsplayground.com/alpha/songs/o/oldkingcole.html

Thanks for that. Lovely to see all the words for a song I sung dozens of times in my youth. To my recollection, the phrase was not "merry old soul" but rather "merry a--h--e" and the Captains said "We get all the s--t". But that may have been just a local version.  ;D

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Offline Jarnhamar

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Often that "incessant admin and metric gathering" are tasks assigned to young officers by their OC or Adjt as part of their development as officers.  Do you think that adjutants (the good ones anyway) magically appear all knowing.  Usually it's because in the past they have been given innumerable petty problems that they've had to research and provide a written response to a superior who harshly corrected their spelling, grammar and conclusions with gleeful application of the big red pencil.  At one time on those means it was similarly a common response to a poorly drafted post.  As an officer, it was part of my learning experience as well as how I provided necessary experience to young officers who worked for me.

I could be mistaken but I'm guessing it's been a while since you've been a platoon commander or were in charge of developing them.

I suggest that because I'm guessing you haven't seen the volume of email and admin they're bombarded with these days (or maybe you do).

My platoon commander went on leave for a week and had over 400 emails (I'm not exaggerating). I was speechless. He had his out of office on and he was still getting emails demanding updates to previous emails.

If that's how the CAF wants to develop platoon commanders into adjt's don't get upset when Sgts and WOs run the platoon in the commanders absence (and the Lt is seen more of a figure head).
« Last Edit: December 07, 2019, 21:39:12 by Jarnhamar »
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Offline Furniture

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No. No. No. That's the wrong takeaway from this. Problems in leadership can and do happen at every level. Different circumstances have differing results.

In any military that creates it's officer corps primarily by way of recruitment from the street (either direct entry or RMC or West Point or Sandhurst) rather than from within the ranks, you will naturally have a separate career stream for NCOs and commissioned officers where, generally, the NCOs will have age and experience on their side while junior officers commanding their first troop or platoon have neither.

In the British tradition of militaries (and we still pretty much are one of those) Snr NCOs have always been the bridge between the ranks and the officer corps at least within the battalion level. We have always depended very heavily on the Snr NCOs, especially at the platoon level, to educate and support junior officers, in their ability to command troops.

The point here is that such Snr NCOs have the dual responsibility of leading, training and protecting their troops while building the skills and confidence of their officers. Sometimes that system breaks down for any number of reasons: the officer is too stubborn (or stupid) to learn, the Snr NCO can't be bothered being an officer's baby-sitter or what have you. In the case I described above, the troops and junior officers were in their early twenties while the Snr NCOs were in their forties. Circumstances had created a significant age gap as a result of which the bridge between troops and officers wasn't working as it should.

I agree with you that the situation that started this thread was a failure at all levels. Unfortunately MBWA is negated by one of our systemic issues (especially in the reserves) where officers are all too often swamped in administrative matters that keep them in the office rather than out on the floor. That same division almost ensures that Snr NCOs have less and less time with their junior officers to help develop them properly. Also, typically for a reserve unit, such improper activities take place "after hours" or "off-site" where there is no supervision.

I also tend to agree with about MBWA at the Jnr NCO level. As a young gunner on my Jnr NCO course, I was certainly taught how to lead and closely supervise my subordinates because that was my main job. Quite frankly though, I didn't have to do much MBWA because basically the folks I looked after were usually within a few yards of me. I didn't get the same training at the officer cadet level. We did have training and exercises where we supervised others but those were usually our fellow cadets. We were taught very little about "garrison" leadership.

I sometimes wonder if some of these types of issues, as in the instant case, are really centered on the breakdown of the corporal rank. Back when I was a young gunner and bombardier, there was a distinct division amongst the junior ranks between the gunners on the one hand and lance bombardiers and bombardiers on the other.  Bombardiers were leaders who generally kept the more unruly junior ranks behaviour in check. Obviously today's bombardiers/corporals no longer fit that bill, and I sometimes wonder how much our master bombardiers/corporals in the reserves have taken up that leadership role when off the floor or not on exercise. Unfortunately I've been too long away from the coal face to know whether my suspicions have any basis in fact.

 :stirpot:

Well said, I was perhaps a bit more harsh than was deserved.

I tend to agree that the real issue in many cases is the failure of leadership at the most Jr. level.

To expand on why I think this happens; I believe we have become too "risk adverse" as an organization. We don't let Cpls, and MCpls make mistakes, then learn from them. We know a Sgt//WO/Capt can handle the problem, so we use them, rather than letting the more Jr members learn through trial and error. This leads to lowered expectations of our Jr leaders, which means they live up to our lowered expectations.

I'm as guilty as the next leader, I've done things my Cpl/MCpl should be doing just because I know I won't have to spend time correcting them...