Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
I remember a good lesson, learnt many years ago whilst Sail Training as a Watch Leader. If you get "stuck in" with your men and haul on the ropes as yourself, you will not notice when the sail gets caught or one of your watch gets hoisted up the mast, because he has clipped himself onto the halyard.
When you stand back from the action and observe and direct, you spot the problems more readily and are in a much better position to avert disaster.
Depends who you believe, the Mail or the Times. No different to the pilots who have left after their Stn Cdr tours because they wanted to keep flying a jet rather than a desk....
"The head of the SAS has resigned from the elite army regiment “for personal reasons”, defence sources said last night.
The commanding officer of 22 Special Air Service Regiment, who cannot be named for his own security, has been involved in covert operations in Iraq and Afghanistan where he gained a reputation for leading from the front.
However, this has drawn criticism from the army hierarchy, which believes that commanding officers, whether they are in the SAS or in conventional regiments, need to be less involved in frontline combat and more concerned with the “big picture”, sending their men out to do the fighting, according to a report in The Sun.
The commanding officer of the SAS — a lieutenant-colonel in his early forties — has served in the Army for more than 20 years and is planning to end his military career when he hands over the special forces role to his successor. The head of the SAS normally stays in the job for about three years and he will have completed his full appointment period by the time he leaves.
Defence sources were anxious to emphasise that the commanding officer was leaving the SAS for “personal reasons”, but acknowledged that the reports of his style of leadership were not far off the mark.".......
The lieutenant-colonel’s future money-earning prospects in the civilian world will be unrivalled. As head of the most famous regiment in the world he will be able to command a big salary in a security company. When he leaves the Army he is expected to be recruited by one of the top companies who are winning big contracts in Iraq.
At least 10,000 people are now operating in Iraq with private security companies, all of which rely on ex-special forces soldiers to perform the dangerous roles that are needed in a country suffering from increasingly sophisticated insurgency groups.
However, as a senior officer and with his SAS background, the lieutenant-colonel is likely to be snapped up as a director of one of the private security companies.
JT - you may not remember the deserved criticism of Col H Jones VC - it was an open secret that his personal action was foolhardy to say the least, and in losing his own life he in fact risked the lives of many others, who depended on their CO to be at the battalion HQ to make the correct decisions.
Like Widger I remember watching a Leading Seaman in the old damage control trainer at HMS Excellent. The guy was supposed to be in charge of a team, but instead he was getting stuck in, and while the rest weren't exactly standing around, the things they were doing were not half as important as the the tasks that he'd have seen needed doing if his face wasn't 6" from one of the smaller problems.
A slightly different slant on the story in the Torygraph:
SAS chief quits to take security job By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent Last Updated: 2:57am BST 17/07/2007
The commanding officer of the SAS has resigned, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
The officer, a lieutenant colonel who cannot be named for security reasons, is believed to have been offered a lucrative job in the security industry, where he could earn well into six figures.
His departure highlights a growing exodus of officers who have been almost constantly on operations since 2001.
advertisementThe Army is short of about 800 officers but it is the defection of special forces troopers to the private sector that is proving the most worrying. They can earn more than £600 a day in security work, almost five times the average trooper's income.
The resignation will come as a further blow to the already undermanned SAS. The officer had been offered promotion to full colonel following command of 22 SAS Regiment. He led several assaults during the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 and during his tenure the SAS has been involved in successful assaults against insurgents in Iraq.
Friends said he felt that he had achieved all he wanted. "He has had a really great time, and got to the zenith of his career and feels there is nothing better than that," said a fellow officer.
He will be replaced by an officer from the Guards division. The Ministry of Defence said it did not comment on special forces matters.
Last month Col Jorge Mendonca put in papers to leave because he felt commanders failed to support him during a court martial over the death of an Iraqi in his regiments' custody.
Col Tim Collins, commander of the Royal Irish Regiment during the Iraq invasion, resigned three years ago with a similar complaint after an allegation of abusing prisoners.
Wasn’t Sir Michael Rose criticised by his predecessor Sir Peter de la Billière for being in the Falklands area when he should have been back at an HQ? – one can understand the principal in that situation, given the complex coordinating role he had. But I disagree with Airborne Artist’s reference to Col H Jones VC – his men were pinned down and the heroic action, which was successful, was what was required from their chief – who else had that special bond with his men that could have instantly encouraged and motivated them to undertake that precipitous and brave action other than their respected Colonel?
But I disagree with Airborne Artist’s reference to Col H Jones VC – his men were pinned down and the heroic action, which was successful, was what was required from their chief – who else had that special bond with his men that could have instantly encouraged and motivated them to undertake that precipitous and brave action other than their respected Colonel?
What??? ISTR his 2i/c came along with a cool head and actually sorted it out.
So taking your view that Bosses should not fly (on Ops), on the basis that "in peace we train for war" (or whatever the phrase is), and given how tight the Defence Budget appears to be, are you suggesting that these command appts should be totally non flying appts? After all, what is the point in wasting trg hours if your not going to do the task at hand when push comes to shove?
I don't own this space under my name. I should have leased it while I still could
Join Date: Dec 2002
Difficult answer and one I haven't really thought through but for starters a boss must be proficient on type and know the equipment inside out. Only in that way can you avoid nonsense tasking. We had one once where the aircraft performance data came from the Observer's Book of aircraft.
Also my initial captain was the Task Force Commander, a gp capt, although he handed over later to the copilot, a wg cdr. Now on that operation we could probably have managed as the tasking was unlikely to be more than a couple of sorties but if it had gone in to intensive ops things could have been quite tight with no exec on the ground.
So, logically, once the initial baptism of fire was passed, and the operations became more routine, then it would matter less if the CO flew and was diverted, in rest, or worse.
As an aircrew sqn cdr I think it probably esential that the boss is available to run the outfit during that all important transition from peace to war. Just when that transition changes to steady state is of course another question.
The Mail report is inaccurate and sensationalised (surprise, surprise) as is jayteeto's comment on it. The CO 22 is not being sacked. He is resigning from the Army at the end of his full and very successful tenure in command of The Regiment. After all, when you've done that job what attraction is there in staying in to fly a desk and be paid pea-nuts for the privilege? Good on him.
As to the complex qustion whether commanders should lead from the front, it depends very much on the Service and on the environment. In simplest terms, once battle commences, he must be where he can best read and influence that battle. That is usually not in a rear HQ. Communications, effective staff procedures and trust between all levels of command are essential elements in succesful command in battle. They still won't necessarily lead to a succesful outcome though: look at Rommel.
The Army command and control staff system provides for the Commander to decide on his plan, issue his orders to his subordinates and then move forward to observe its execution from suitable vantage points closer to the action. His staff are empowered and able to monitor and run the big details from safely behind but are inevitably somewhat out of touch. Provided (essential) his comms are up to it, the Commander can tweak the plan via his staff from his vantage point. He can also respond quickly to the inevitable crises, encourage, change emphasis, etc. He must, however, resist the temptation to micro-manage his subordinates bits of the battle because he will then distract them, undermine their confidence and lose his own grasp of the big picture.
A commander of ships has much less freedom of movement but better comms and visibility of the big picture. He must also resist the urge to micro-manage and be micro-managed himself.
Being a Pongo I can, of course, have no understanding of air operations, as so many Crab Pruners keep asserting, so I will not give you the opportunity to open that particular front.
For clarity, think of how three great and largely successful commanders at different levels ran their particular shows in WW2 and from where. Guy Gibson on the dams raid. Rommel in N Africa. Cunningham (the Admiral, not the Air Marshall) in the Med.
Infantry battles are unlike any others. H Jones role in his particular battle attracts frequent misplaced criticism. He had made his plan, issued his orders and then rightly moved forward with his Command Group into a wide spread, very confused and complex battle while his Battalion staff, ably led by Chris Keeble, coordinated the overall show from the rear. When H found the attack of one rifle coy stalled, he did the only thing he could in that particular situation, he led by example and was killed. However, the battalion SOPs worked seamlessly. Chris Keeble immediately took over command, also moved forward nearer the battle, and the Battalion was inspired by H's example to pick itself up and continue to ultimate success. Had H been positioned back in Bn HQ during the fighting, he could not have known what was going wrong and would not have been in a position to influence it. He was an infantry commander, an inspiring leader and a modest but very brave man.
Sorry to have banged at length but the wife's at work and it's p*ss*ng with rain outside so I can't mow the blasted lawn!
Location: Liverpool based Geordie, so calm down, calm down kidda!!
I only raised the thread as a discussion point, Clockwork Mouse, I apologise if I am not as well informed as you. I only reported what I read. This is a RUMOUR network you know!! Airborne Artist, I do remember the Falkands, I was originally posted on to Atlantic Conveyor to service Harrier Inertial Platforms. That was until one of the lads pulled his superior seniority card and got to take my place!! Yes, he went for an unplanned swim....... Colonel Jones was criticised by some and applauded by others. It is said that his sacrifice/suicide spurred his men on when they were close to giving up the push. How often these days, do we complain about bosses being out of touch. A half-colonel is in a tricky situation. He/She is not a HQ member, they have HQ staff for that, but they are not one of the boys either. My humble view is that they should be there close to the front line, but not too close. Back in the UK is ok, as long as they are visiting regularly. However, if a leader is foolish/dedicated enough to want to be there 24/7, why not???
I don't own this space under my name. I should have leased it while I still could
Join Date: Dec 2002
I discussed this with a colleague today. The solution, certainly in the RAF was quite simple and indeed my previous experience actually points the same way.
Yes, the sqn cdr leads his sqn through training in to war and leads in battle. To provide the much needed operational control when the sqn cdr is in rest was quite simple. The sqn was effectively commanded by a gp capt. Indeed the EAWs are also, I believe, commanded by gp capts.
Jayteeto No need to apologise for reading Mails tales mate! Afraid I banged on a bit in my reply but, as I explained, I was at a loose end. I'm sorry I came over a bit strong! I do get a bit peed off however when people (not you), who are not qualified to, make negative comments about H's sacrifice, as on this thread. I knew him professionally, worked with him for a while and understand how he operated. I'm proud to have had that privilege. Leading from the front is a dangerous practise in our profession.
Great to see the chat on this subject. There is obviously a time and a place for the leader to take up a position forward and conversely the situation may dictate that he should view the 'field' from afar so that disaster can be averted. I think the point is that the leader should make that decision. Hind sight is a wonderfull thing but invariably leaders have to make these sorts of decisions in relatively short order. You pays your money and takes your choice - if they get it wrong then so be it. To arbitarily promote any kind of leadership stance or approach ignores the fact that every situation and therefore every decision is differant.
Ref GW 1, I worked closely with some of the young lads (and older ones) who were expected to do something which was actually quit unusual for the Cold War warrior ie go to war! If you would have asked a Laarbruch Tornado mate in the Summer of 90 what he would be doing in Feb 91, I don't think he would have replied that he would be dropping bombs for real. They, IMHO needed to be led from the front. Many senior guys decided to fly (not sure how much real choice they had) and ensured that it all worked. I honestly believe many a personal 'wobble' was averted upon hearing about the previous nights sortie when the Boss broke radio silence to pronounce 'wibble' over the radio when returning home.
By the way what ever happened to Pablo M after the book launch?