back to article Brit armed forces still don't have enough techies, thunder MPs

Parliament’s influential Public Accounts (PAC) Committee reckons UK Armed Forces need to recruit more digitally able folk to halt a widening skills gap, warning the military does not have a "coherent plan" to do so. With an existing 26 per cent shortfall in the target number of full-time intelligence analysts in the ranks of …

  1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    The trouble is, it's a bit like Hotel California: "You can check out, but..."

  2. Locky Silver badge

    Recruitment

    Who would have thought they would be struggling to recruit competent techies when they use such stella adverts as this to promote them;

    Royal Navy Recruiting Advert - Weapon Engineering Submariner

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Recruitment

      Who would have thought they would be struggling to recruit competent techies when they use such stella adverts as this to promote them;

      Even then, who's going to join when we all know the dismal and ever-repeated story of wildly over-budget, late, inadequate and insufficient equipment. The one thing any techy should expect is that they won't have the equipment to do their job properly, and neither will their military colleagues. Not to mention that there's not much pride fighting wars without any popular mandate. Even when you get out, the MoD won't look after its own, leaving the disabled and mentally scarred to fend (largely) for themselves, but they'll happily cooperate with ambulance chasing lawyers prosecuting court cases with made up evidence.

      I've worked for the MoD, my father was in the RAF, both grandfathers were career soldiers, but I can think of no good reason that anybody with any skills would want to join the services today.

  3. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Part of the problem is the skills the Armed Forces want are in demand, consequently a not insignificant proportion of new recruits get the engineering training and then leave at the first opportunity for a better paying/more stable* job outside. This leaves a shortage of qualified and experienced personnel. Although on the plus side the MoD's pension bill isn't as big.

    *Stable as in you don't find yourself on the other side of the world for an unspecified period of time with only two weeks warning.

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      "a not insignificant proportion of new recruits get the engineering training and then leave at the first opportunity ..."

      I'm not sure what the waiting time is now to get out of the Army early, it It is a long time since I did so. But the reason I bought myself out wasn't the lure of civvy street and its better jobs, it was that we were given nothing constructive to do. I was in the RAMC which I believe has a recruitment problem, they certainly did when I was there. The trouble was once they had you they struggled to find something for you to do. In my case it was putting up tents for the TA training camps and when I made enough of a nuisance of myself they shipped me off to BAOR where they had me counting stores and painting shovels and other important items.

      It is true that the alternative i.e. having to handle badly wounded soldiers and recovering bodies would have been infinitely worse but as a young soldier I wanted to see the world not paint it. So I left.

      Things may well have changed since I were a lad but being bored, underpaid and under appreciated might still have something to do with the problems of retention.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        I'd be surprised if any area of the armed forces was struggling to employ their personnel usefully these days. Certainly the area I'm involved in doesn't have the required number of technicians to produce enough serviceable aircraft to meet the required tasking. This isn't as big a problem as it could be due to a shortage of pilots, caused by a lack of serviceable aircraft on the training unit, caused by a shortage of qualified and experienced technicians...

        So if we had more personnel they'd be fully employed doing their primary role. Admittedly this is more of a problem for RAMC etc. as you kind of need bad things to be happening for that to be possible.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          the area I'm involved in doesn't have the required number of technicians to produce enough serviceable aircraft to meet the required tasking

          Not a problem. With the persistent mismanagement of defence budgets by MoD and Parliament, we will soon have so few aircraft on strength that the manpower issue won't matter.

          Between 2007 and 2017, the number of British combat aircraft came down on an essentially straight line projection from 475 to 250 (as at 1 January, MoD statistics, Conventional Armed Forces in Europe data). The vast and ever rising cost of F35 and the lack of planning for anything else ensures that unit costs will continue to rise, so numbers will continue to fall.

      2. martinusher Silver badge

        @nematoad

        >It is true that the alternative i.e. having to handle badly wounded soldiers and recovering bodies would have been infinitely worse.....

        We've got a fix for this in the US. Military surgeons can nmot only keep their skills up to date but perform a useful service to society by just working in an urban hospital. Plenty of gunshot and other victims to work on....

        Seriously, though, I figure that one reason why there's a recruitment shortfall is there needs to be a reason to join up. For some its an alternative to the dole, others might just like the life. For skilled workers, those who have a choice, then there's the question of how relevant the military is, who it works for and what its being asked to do. Sometimes 'duty' isn't good enough -- for example, a relative of a friend found himself fighting in Syria a few years ago (he was officially posted to Italy)(US army, note.). This wasn't popular among the troops -- our politicians might have grandiose ideas about policy but the boots on the ground known when they're being taken for a ride. The result was that re-enlistment got tricky -- and expensive, since they just kept upping the bonuses until enough people cracked. (But, this definitely isn't a good way to run an army.)

  4. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Meh

    Attitudes

    Maybe it's also partly because the armed forces (rightly or wrongly) still has the image of being led by privileged utter morons.

    Hmmm... Where have I heard that before

    1. Kane Silver badge

      Re: Attitudes

      "Maybe it's also partly because the armed forces (rightly or wrongly) still has the image of being led by privileged utter morons."

      Obligatory Pratchett quote:

      "Lieutenant Blouse was standing in the middle of the floor in his breeches and shirtsleeves, holding a sabre. Polly was no expert in these matters, but she thought she recognised the stylish, flamboyant pose as the one beginners tend to use just before they're stabbed through the heart by a more experienced fighter." - Monstrous Regiment

      .

      .

      Pterry Icon, El Reg? I won't stop asking...

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Attitudes

        Ah, I see a Rupert has downvoted me....

        1. Kane Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Attitudes

          ...and some more...

  5. Christoph Silver badge

    Hi, keen young techie. How would you like to spend a few months being yelled at by sergeants while square bashing, then get sent off to the far side of the world to help fire high tech weaponry at the local peasants who have no idea why you have invaded and occupied their country?

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      I think you'll find that the peasants have a fairly good idea of why they've been shot at.

      1. Mr Dogshit

        You're thinking of pheasants.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, I've been working in tech for quite awhile and have some skills/aptitude that would probably be in demand in the Canadian Armed Forces and I'd consider joining the Reserve to put those skills to work, but as I'm in my early 50s and not in great shape chances are I'm not their target demographic.

    Aside from that the Canadian Armed Forces is getting a bad reputation for not doing enough to help the many Veterans with PTSD. I find it shameful that any country would send its Citizen into harms way and then not have the infrastructure to help them with their needs both physical and mental on their return home.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > I find it shameful that any country would send its Citizen into harms way and then not have the infrastructure to help them with their needs both physical and mental on their return home.

      Tragically this is the norm in far more countries. Returning soldiers should be either unharmed or dead, is the idea, and closed casket burial is more acceptable than a veteran returning in a wheel chair.

      1. paulc

        'is more acceptable than a veteran returning in a wheel chair.'

        at least you can see he's been wounded... it's those coming back and suffering recurring nightmares and flashbacks and dropping to the ground when a car backfires... they've also been broken... and expected to just get on with it... and they also don't tell you what services there are for you and that as a 'veteran' you have priority.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Tragically this is the norm in far more countries. Returning soldiers should be either unharmed or dead, is the idea, and closed casket burial is more acceptable than a veteran returning in a wheel chair.

        Certainly the bureaucrats don't give anywhere near enough thought for returning injured, but probably the one single thing that the MoD and the military can be proud of is the vast improvement in survival rates for battlefield injuries, and the better outcomes for the injured.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          So what you're saying is; back in the old days, most soldiers(/sailors/airmen/etc.) would come home with physical injuries, or not come home at all. Now they're less likely to be physically injured, so we notice the PTSD more?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            >Now they're less likely to be physically injured, so we notice the PTSD more?

            I am afraid the reasons are far worse than that. Back in the old days, as you say, there was zero understanding of PTSD and shell shocks, and those suffering it were simply executed in the belief they were deserting in the face of the enemy or such. Now we have more understanding of it so these are more often shipped to hospitals and the battlefield executions are now eliminated.

            War is ugly and it is ugly for more reasons than most people are aware of.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Diametric opposition ?

    The problem is a lot of the other things that go with the skills the military need - like intelligence - tend to work to keep the people with those skills away from the military.

    If ballet could be weaponized, I suspect they'd have the same problem with a lack of people interested in they hyper-macho world of soldiering.

    Maybe that's a good thing ?

    Or maybe we'll just see a return to conscription.

  8. wyatt
    Stop

    It's an interesting situation which has also been written about in regards to the US forces. Main point is that those who are good at 'cyber' roles, are probably unlikely to be good at doing it for the military. Then you have the one that's also mentioned that once someone is good at something, they can probably get paid better elsewhere.

    I don't think this is a role that will be able to be carried out by the military, more an agency attached to them like so many are now. Numerous civilians deploy with the military and I'd argue that this isn't something that would be needed at the very front line (FEBA for those who know..!) but in a softer HQ type location some distance back.

    In regards to retention, the army don't keep soldiers in a role but in a trade quite often so you can be moved around quite a bit. Again, this doesn't really fit in with the 'cyber' role that I think most are expecting the military to carry out, a re-think is needed about who and how this is to be done is needed.

    1. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

      Surely you mean FLOT? FEBA hasn't been used for years :-)

      As you say, most of what is called cyber can be done from an office. What the Yanks call "reach back" is a thing. Provided you have the secure links to make it so, which is where high capacity satcom and "trunk" communications links come in, as well as less pathetic data rates at the Combat Net Radio fighty end...

      1. wyatt

        I may well do, I've been out for a good few years and being a REMF, kept away from both!

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      It's an interesting situation which has also been written about in regards to the US forces. Main point is that those who are good at 'cyber' roles, are probably unlikely to be good at doing it for the military.

      In our organization, I'd guess over 50% of the IT staff are "on the spectrum". There's no way they'd last in the military.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >In our organization, I'd guess over 50% of the IT staff are "on the spectrum". There's no way they'd last in the military.

        Don't be too sure of that. Where I served we considered ourselves a bit "peculiar" but in hindsight I think at least half of us were on the spectrum. And I include our officers in this estimate. Signal Service has a very different culture from, say, Infantry so you can be on the spectrum and still function in uniform in some very specific parts.

    3. jmch Silver badge

      "I don't think this is a role that will be able to be carried out by the military, more an agency attached to them like so many are now. "

      Spot on. Why would I work as an IT professional directly within the army ranks, requiring certain level of physical training, potentially dangerous missions etc, while being paid less than market rates? On the other hand military contractors don't have to obey army command structures, only their own bosses, and while it's possible they will be in dangerous situations, they are at least very well compensated for that.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        'Why would I work as an IT professional directly within the army ranks, requiring certain level of physical training, potentially dangerous missions etc, while being paid less than market rates?'

        Or even worse you could do it at Civil Service rates! Which does raise the question of how the Government in general thinks it's going to be able to employ skilled workers during times of high employment?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          totally agree with you, why anyone would want to work in the Civil service these days baffles me!

        2. jmch Silver badge

          "how the Government in general thinks it's going to be able to employ skilled workers during times of high employment?"

          I'm not sure how it is in UK but where I'm from, there are certain perks to working in the civil service. Clock-in/out is on the dot and if not, overtime is paid, it's nigh-impossible to get fired and there's a good pension scheme. Of course those are perks that are more attractive to those who want their employment to be unsullied by actually working, no wonder the government services are shite!

        3. phuzz Silver badge

          "how the Government in general thinks it's going to be able to employ skilled workers during times of high employment?"

          It's easy, we'll just use the constant and reliable supply of highly trained immigrants.

          Oh wait...

        4. fm+theregister

          >requiring certain level of physical training

          I believe bcz if they want to work with you, they certainly pass the physicals, a matter of training.

          >potentially dangerous missions

          maybe bcz they enjoy it

          >Or even worse you could do it at Civil Service rates

          there is a way around this, hire the consultant services while they are civilians, and welcome them in the next trial

  9. UberMunchkin

    It's almost like smart, technically capable people are not interested in being shouted at, demeaned and possibly killed at the whim of idiot politicians while being paid nowhere near enough money.

  10. Chronos Silver badge

    Simple answer.

    Why aren't more people lining up to fight with a mouse, keyboard and gun?

    Perhaps because anyone smart enough to wield the first two is smart enough to know our leaders are about as batshit crazy as it is physically possible to get without being sectioned.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Simple answer.

      @Chronos

      our leaders are about as batshit crazy as it is physically possible to get without being sectioned.

      Let's be fair, many of them are way beyond the 'ready to be sectioned' point, but somehow haven't been. Friends in high places?

      1. Chronos Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Simple answer.

        You're right. Or possibly low places. One or two of them must be in league with Old Nick just for the kickbacks...

  11. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Rigid Hierachy

    When I was a youngster I was in the Air Cadets and I was looking to being a pilot as a profession. As I spent more time in the Air Cadets, I realized that I didn't like blindingly taking orders from complete idiots just because they were "senior" to me so I never went anywhere with a rigid hierarchy.

    I'm lucky that I've had jobs where my bosses encourage me to question them. The outcome is that one of us learns something which allows us to make better decisions.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Rigid Hierachy

      As I spent more time in the Air Cadets, I realized that I didn't like blindingly taking orders from complete idiots just because they were "senior" to me so I never went anywhere with a rigid hierarchy.

      I worked out the same in the Cub Scouts, where, for the wholly empty and meaningless reason of 'looks better on parades' + leaders are always in front. Seniority was decided by height, not age, intelligence or any indicators of common sense whatsoever.

  12. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    I need a lie down.

    Met an OpenReach chap, ex military, stationed out of Garrison town up north. The task was a new business park, but f**k me what a skill-set, from copper, through USB1.0A/B (20 year old HP plotter onsite) chipset/software debugging and battlefield tech to satellites with smart ordnance.

    I asked the same question, it appears the pension force is strong with the departures and new family alongside previous income levels, steady employment also with pension is a new home-owners prerogative, otherwise you haven't a chance. #openreachpraise #infrastructure

    (The client was left with an impression of leet twin jedi performance, like you wouldn't believe.)

  13. HmmmYes Silver badge

    'Just 50 people have, so far, been recruited laterally into higher-ranked posts.'

    Thatsa bus full .... if SMERCH were interested in disrupting the UK defenses ....

    (And I bet more than 50% bullshitted their way into the job ...)

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Lateral recruitment is an interesting one. It won't work for all roles, i.e. it would be very hard to laterally recruit a ship's captain as all his previous jobs would be developing the skills necessary to command a warship in battle, so even a merchant navy captain wouldn't have the full skill set.

      On the other hand, if you're only recruiting them into select non-front line roles, you've just removed the chance for someone on the front line to have a couple of years in a stable posting, which is known to increase the outflow rate making the manning situation worse.

  14. PhilipN Silver badge

    Who decides?

    With acknowledgement to (a recent issue of) the FT, the C-in-C British Cavalry responded to the threat of WWII by ordering more fodder and second horses for officers, while the Wehrmacht busily developed the Panzer.

    Easy to say he was a dumkopf but where did he have the authority to commission the design, construction and delivery of new battle-worthy tanks - and the formation of regiments to deploy them. And all else besides - a MAJOR and costly undertaking.

    It wasn’t until it was almost two years too late that the politicians got organised.

    So why don’t the MP’s put themselves under the spotlight?

    After all, the soldier only does as he is told, yes?

  15. 0laf Silver badge

    Were the US military not looking at taking on people with tech skills who would not be suitable for front line duties ever? I.e. these might be people who are highly skilled digitally but have severe physical disabilities.

    Digitally they may not even need to be in same continent as the fighting force so why require them to be able to pass the BFT?

    Money is an issue, I know of an old neighbour who was highly skilled in his field who despite being quite senior in the TA (was a Major now higher) took a considerably pay cut to go on tour. He was willing to do this but I doubt many people would be.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So many reasons

    The younger generation see unjust wars, following along and invading any countries the US wants to cash in on and don't want to be a part of all that shit.

    There is a different in fighting for your country that is under attack and being part of an army that attacks and bombs other countries to keep relations with other countries sweet.

    Then this particular army group uses media, social media and other tactics to influence regime change and cause infighting among people. Basically doing what the US and UK are shouting at Russia for doing with Facebook adverts yet everyone is at it.

    Not many want to be a part of such nasty campaigns. You will find a good load of highly intelligent people who refuse to work for governments and their agencies because of global spying and that kind of thing. Yeah there are those that don't care but there are a lot who stick to their morals of not wanting to be part of such an Orwellian structure.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is no figure that could convince me to work for any branch of government or military.

    Not remotely sorry.

    1. jmch Silver badge
      Devil

      "There is no figure that could convince me to work for any branch of government or military."

      I would like to say that of myself... although I suspect that a short-term contract with 7 or more figures would strongly tempt my morals.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm a techie

    I've been thinking about joining the reserves, but like most techies (I think) I can't do press ups or sit ups and I really don't want to.

  19. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Do we need an army?

    A more fundamental question is "Do we need an Army" in the sense of armed forces who, at the end of the day, are there to kill people when the government orders.

    Yes, there may be a need for defensive armed forces, and for a bit of UN peace-keeping. But perhaps by moving to a Defence and Emergency Force we may ease some of the problems. Having a body of trained people with equipment ready to handle extreme situations is essential for any country. In the UK we have floods, there could be other problems in the future. Other countries need outside help. It may be that a core of professionals backed up by part-time volunteers ( a la T.A.) is the way to go. But do we, as a country, really need to be able to kill thousands of people on the other side of the world at a moment's notice?

    By having a Civil Emergency and Defence force we can make use of their skills all year round. If there isn't an emergency they could be working on public infrastructure projects. The Medics could deliver health programmes, at home or overseas. The techies could be doing something worthwhile.

    Our massive and useless aircraft carriers could be re-purposed as floating disaster relief bases, able to travel to areas hit by flood, fire, hurricane, disease or war, and provide an instant base for relief services. And probably won't be such an easy target for a single hostile missile or explosive-laden trawler.

    The pay for techies probably wouldn't be as good as in the private sector, but many people are happy to work for the job satisfaction and earning 'enough' rather than buckets of dosh helping bankers become richer by screwing the poor (or whatever). If money was all that mattered to people where would Médecins Sans Frontières be?

    <lennon>You may say, I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...</lennon>

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Do we need an army?

      "A more fundamental question is "Do we need an Army" in the sense of armed forces who, at the end of the day, are there to kill people when the government orders.

      Yes, there may be a need for defensive armed forces, and for a bit of UN peace-keeping. But perhaps by moving to a Defence and Emergency Force we may ease some of the problems."

      I was thinking about this. People talk about nuclear disarmament, but I wonder if the better plan is nuclear sole-armament. Disband the armed forces, except for a few thousand for internal emergencies and special forces, but have a tip top nuclear triad that can strike anywhere. Invade if you want, but I only have one possible action: turn your country into glass. I also have a few thousand SF guys to shoot you in the face if the glass thing doesn't work.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Do we need an army?

        @DavCrav

        That is certainly an option. Personally, if I am asked whether I want my country to be governed by potential genocidal nutters, people who would be willing to turn thousands or millions of people into glass, I tend to answer 'No'.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do we need an army?

        "Disband the armed forces, except for a few thousand for internal emergencies and special forces, but have a tip top nuclear triad that can strike anywhere"

        The weakness of this is

        1. the problem of convincing potential enemies that you would really would it, and

        2. dealing with incremental 'sub-threshold' provocations.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do we need an army?

      I've a lot of sympathy with that view, but I'm not sure there's any stable, useable level of employment for your CE&D force. If you've got them doing domestic infrastructure work when there's no emergency need, then you're expecting highly trained, skilled, people with professional dedication to do navvy work. Under-employment is a problem at the moment for the military, getting them to dig holes won't improve it, but there's still the risk that they'll all be called off to do earthquake relief in Whereverland which won't help efficient infrastructure delivery - a point even more significant for medical staff. Add in the complications of training them for the possibility of fighting, and you've got a very mixed bag of activity that would be difficult to train for and support.

      MoD decided some years ago that having a much larger Territorial Army is the way forward, but until citizens are confident that they'd only be called up for a real national emergency, rather than as cannon fodder for hobby wars, I think they'll struggle with that (and in fact have for some years). The use of the Territorial Army in Afghanistan and Iraq haven't helped, with circa 30,000 "mobilisations", and a fatality rate of about one per thousand mobilisations - and I suspect four of five times that number injured. If we assume two mobilisations per TA reservist, then that's a one in 500 chance of being killed and a one in one hundred chance of being wounded. Not very good odds, IMHO.

      With regard to "helping bankers become richer by screwing the poor", there was me thinking that Oxfam had some credentials in screwing the poor.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do we need an army?

      "But perhaps by moving to a Defence and Emergency Force we may ease some of the problems. Having a body of trained people with equipment ready to handle extreme situations is essential for any country. In the UK we have floods, there could be other problems in the future. Other countries need outside help. It may be that a core of professionals backed up by part-time volunteers ( a la T.A.) is the way to go. But do we, as a country, really need to be able to kill thousands of people on the other side of the world at a moment's notice?

      By having a Civil Emergency and Defence force we can make use of their skills all year round. If there isn't an emergency they could be working on public infrastructure projects. The Medics could deliver health programmes, at home or overseas. The techies could be doing something worthwhile."

      That should work just fine as long as you don't need a real defence force.

      Of course, not having a real defence force is one good way to massively increase the probability of needing one.

      It also encourages other countries to ignore your opinions, given the fact that you would be useless as an ally in a real shooting situation.

      "<lennon>You may say, I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...</lennon>"

      Which puts me in mind of:

      And I dreamed I saw the bomber jet planes

      Riding shotgun in the sky

      Turning into butterflies

      Above our nation

      - Woodstock, Crosby Stll, Nash, and Young

      Of they didn't stop to think that if that had really happened we would probably have had World War III already, and be slowly working our way back to electrification.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do we need an army?

      Yes, there may be a need for defensive armed forces, and for a bit of UN peace-keeping. But perhaps by moving to a Defence and Emergency Force we may ease some of the problems. Having a body of trained people with equipment ready to handle extreme situations is essential for any country. In the UK we have floods, there could be other problems in the future. Other countries need outside help. It may be that a core of professionals backed up by part-time volunteers ( a la T.A.) is the way to go. But do we, as a country, really need to be able to kill thousands of people on the other side of the world at a moment's notice?

      ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      You seem to think that an army is a 'one size fits all' tool that does everything equally adequately.

      In fact, armies are built, equipped, and trained for specific types of missions.

      An army built to fight a first world power is not one set up to fight a colonial/third world war and neither is trained and optimized for peacekeeping or internal security or drug enforcement, let alone the essentially 'civilian' emergency response role you seem to be contemplating.

      It takes time to develop and imbue the doctrines, techniques and attitudes for each of these different roles.

      As well, geography matters. An army set up to fight in northern Europe is not equipped for, nor is it expecting the same issues, tasks, and opponents, as an army set up to fight in Afghanistan. Indeed, all to often the equipment, doctrines, formations, and training for the current issue is not available because you were prepping for the previous issue.

      The Cold War/European theatre 'battle rifle' was not the optimum weapon for the Vietnam jungle skirmish, The M16/M4 assault rifle from the Vietnam era proved to be sub-optimal in Afghanistan because it was the wrong calibre for that theatre of operations, and considerations around the newly recognized limits of that round are driving an evaluation of larger, more powerful, longer ranged rounds - ironically in the same class as what the British originally proposed as the standard Nato round before the US forced the adoption of a '30 calibre' class round - the 7.62 Nato.

      Counter-insurgency needs MRAPs, not main battle tanks... but the Russians or Chinese would treat MRAPs like big paper targets.

      The skills required to co-ordinate, move, and fight regimental combat teams under fire cannot be honed fighting forest fires or putting up sandbag berms to channel floods.

      ... and so on...

      About the only thing you can guarantee is that any 'military' used primarily for civilian disaster relief will be largely useless in actual combat.

      ... and so on...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The army has a lot of flaws career-wise

    I left the army many moons back after 12 years service and went back into my first love, the realms of computers after doing my MCSE which was funded by the army as part of my resettlement package.

    Almost immediately I walked into a great job and have enjoyed a marvelous career ever since with increasing levels of responsibility and wages since.

    Compared to my army 'career' this was unreal. I had left on my 12 year point after doing three operational tours in two years and realising that I earned, as an NCO, less than the guy who mopped floors in McDonalds and there was almost zero (actually it was zero) chance of a pay rise as promotion, the only way to get more money, in my small trade group was a long way off due to there being simply no spare places to be promoted into.

    To be free of that, starting on a decent wage, having every night and weekend off, doing only the job I was paid to do and not the random daft stuff the army has you do on a more than regular basis was something of a shock, I can tell you. Which is why many who would otherwise be successful in the trades the army is seeking will simply stay away I think.

    My old trade used to value the ability to hit, kick or run with a ball over your actual ability to do the job you are paid for to a high standard. This led to 'seniors' who moved their lips whilst reading and stuck their tongues out of the corner of their mouths whilst writing. A bit of a genralisation, but you get what I mean.

    So, if you want a career with excessive hours, low wages, little to no way to effectively earn more and bosses who can be 'challenging' to work with, then go for it.

    If not, then follow your own path and be happy.

    *I left before the stupid actions in the ME and Afghanistan and only stayed until my 12 year point as a pension slave.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The army has a lot of flaws career-wise

      I had a relative who entered the services as a squaddie/NCO and managed to move up to being an officer. His advise: Never enter the armed forces as a squaddie as they get treated like ****. Go straight in as an officer.

      1. The First Dave

        Re: The army has a lot of flaws career-wise

        Then he is still clearly a fool - brand new Ruperts get treated with far more disdain than any squaddie.

  21. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Dear Military...

    You can have my technical and organisational skills in return for teaching me how to fly an Apache helicopter, on your time, and at my contract day rate.

    I can't commit to taking any orders from anyone though, or indeed to turn up when you want to go shoot unarmed brown people at the behest of the US.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Dear Military...

      I lowbid you, as I only need to fly a Huey -all else remains the same, but I get to keep the copter.

      And fuel card, please.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who'd have thunk it...

    Apparently sacking huge numbers of your middle level staff to replace them with lower paid new recruits, or better still trying to replace them with unpaid volunteers, doesn't seem to have worked out as planned.

    Unfortunately most people bright enough to be useful to the forces pay attention to things like a habit of large work force cuts of those who've been there for a while and who are starting to earn a half decent salary, and decide they might be better off elsewhere.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reputation

    Company "reputation" will drive people to or away from working for them.

    They will have to build their own army of killer robots. Smart people don't like to work for criminals.

    1. MrMerrymaker

      Re: Reputation

      Don't you mean...smart people become criminals?

      Albeit white collar company owning criminals, or elected politician criminals...

  24. onemark03

    I'm not a pacifist but I can quite belive that war is horrible (disclaimer: I've never served).

    I forget who said it but the guts of it is "If you would have peace, prepare for war."

    The world is a jungle, not some paradise.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A couple of years ago I applied for one of these fancy shmancey military IT jobs, but was turned down as I have no experience of working in one of these fancy shmancey military IT jobs.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I did look at joining, but they wanted me to take a 50k paycut, move my family, ignore my experience and not be allowed to make changes.

  27. Secta_Protecta

    What a joke, the forces pay peanuts compared to the private sector, plus you get treated like crap and sent away for months at a time to places where people are shooting at you.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Been there, albeit a long time ago...

    You go for it because you're a kid from a council estate with few prospects, well at least it saves MPs kids having to get killed.

    I spent 10 years in, mostly getting treated like shit at the lower end of the rank order. One day on parade some dust was spotted on my boots, for that I got 240 hours extra work at weekends. I got married. My wife got treated like shit because of my lowly rank. A senior NCO groped her, I hit him. I got to go to jail, and he got let off, despite being a serial groper. They tried to get at my wife whilst I was inside. Our rates for being overseas got cut, so there was no point being overseas. In the end I put my money on the table and resigned (PVR) early. So many people in my unit were doing it that mine led to a board of enquiry.

    It doesn’t stop there though. Years later I have a son, and from the moment he starts thinking about future employment I tell him that under no circumstances is he to join the forces. I tell him about the good bits, but the mostly bad shit, the bullshit, painting kerbstones, painting floors, polishing dirty stuff, acting as a waiter for mess functions, all the demeaning shit, stupid rules, marching around squares, running with a rifle above your head, and the myriad other unnecessary bollocks brought down on you by power-tripping fools above you. So now he is an analyst working in London on a decent wage. Doesn't work evenings, or weekends, no guard duties, no near death experiences in foreign countries killing brown people so it doesn’t look like the world's only western aggressors are the yanks. He's unlikely to get a leg blown off and hang around with ginger royalty to make them look cool.

    There were good bits in my career, and some of the lads were OK, but the best bit was walking out of that camp at Catterick having handed my kit in after my PVR.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speaking as an old person without ANY military experience (I nearly joined the Navy if that counts) I would have thought that all the news articles in recent years mentioning cutbacks and de-mobilisation don't help.

    Funding cuts and comments about the inability of the current staffing levels to meet the commitments and then more funding cuts with more regiments cut loose.

    If I was young again I wouldn't want a career in the Armed Forces either.

    When I was a nipper the advice was to become a Royal Navy Articifer, do my stint and then get a civvy street job on loads more money because the training was the best.

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