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Inspirational Leaders

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Inspirational Leaders

Old 12th Aug 2008, 10:37
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Inspirational Leaders

For some reason last night I got to thinking about Col Tim Collins' Eve of War speech, I had never seen the full version so "Googled" it this morning and, for those in a similar position here it is:
We go to liberate, not to conquer.
We will not fly our flags in their country
We are entering Iraq to free a people and the only flag which will be flown in that ancient land is their own.
Show respect for them.
There are some who are alive at this moment who will not be alive shortly.
Those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send.
As for the others, I expect you to rock their world.
Wipe them out if that is what they choose.
But if you are ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory.
Iraq is steeped in history.
It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood and the birthplace of Abraham.
Tread lightly there.
You will see things that no man could pay to see
-- and you will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis.
You will be embarrassed by their hospitality even though they have nothing.
Don't treat them as refugees for they are in their own country.
Their children will be poor, in years to come they will know that the light of liberation in their lives was brought by you.
If there are casualties of war then remember that when they woke up and got dressed in the morning they did not plan to die this day.
Allow them dignity in death.
Bury them properly and mark their graves.
It is my foremost intention to bring every single one of you out alive.
But there may be people among us who will not see the end of this campaign.
We will put them in their sleeping bags and send them back.
There will be no time for sorrow.
The enemy should be in no doubt that we are his nemesis and that we are bringing about his rightful destruction.
There are many regional commanders who have stains on their souls and they are stoking the fires of hell for Saddam.
He and his forces will be destroyed by this coalition for what they have done.
As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity.
It is a big step to take another human life.
It is not to be done lightly.
I know of men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts.
I can assure you they live with the mark of Cain upon them.
If someone surrenders to you then remember they have that right in international law and ensure that one day they go home to their family.
The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please.
If you harm the regiment or its history by over-enthusiasm in killing or in cowardice, know it is your family who will suffer.
You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest -- for your deeds will follow you down through history.
We will bring shame on neither our uniform or our nation.
(On Saddam's chemical and biological weapons.)
It is not a question of if, it's a question of when.
We know he has already devolved the decision to lower commanders, and that means he has already taken the decision himself.
If we survive the first strike we will survive the attack.
As for ourselves, let's bring everyone home and leave Iraq a better place for us having been there.
Our business now is north.
Now this got me thinking about the last time I was truly inspired by a senior RAF Officer. I have had those who tried to bully (strong word but I am sure you get my meaning) me into working harder and some who have just been really good blokes who have been a joy to work (and work hard) for - but inspire me? No I don't remember any.
I have had colleagues who have inspired me and I have been lucky enough to have people working for me who have been inspirational with both their output and attitude, but bosses? No, none, ever.
Now I am a pretty well self-motivated person and having now served for 32 years I have seen many in senior posts come and go - have there actually been any inspirational RAF leaders out there that I have missed? The recent AFCs and GCs (and other awards) were awarded to truly inspirational people but in the scheme of thing they are all fairly junior and reacting to circumstances rather than leadership. Is there actually a need for insprational leadership in the RAF the same way as there is in the Army?
If you have read this far Well Done! It is rather a long post but I am genuinely interested in the views of Ppruners......over to you.
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Old 12th Aug 2008, 16:18
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Interesting post. I'd say that the distance of air warfare and that it is conducted in more isolated ones and twos than ground combat (especially infantry) means that it is both harder to inspire in the same way, and is less necessary. The words above aren't the right ones but air warfare is less "personal" (not the right word either - I am struggling here)

Personally as someone who used to wear a brown suit (peace time only), probably the most inspirational leader I knew was when I was in civvie street. Much as it pains me to admit it, he was RN!

Again the proximity to one another with which the RN go to war probably lends itself more to such things
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Old 12th Aug 2008, 18:02
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Vice-Admiral Timothy Keating

Commander of the US Fifth Fleet
Addressing the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Constellation shortly before the first cruise missiles were fired (March 20th 2003)
"Make no mistake, when the President says `Go', look out, it's hammer time. OK, it is hammer time".
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Old 12th Aug 2008, 19:22
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Funny, Tim Collins used to be well respected on here until he has the audacity to suggest that the RAF should be binned. All of a sudden he became a complete knobber who new nothing about nothing!
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Old 12th Aug 2008, 20:11
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The most inspirational leader I ever met is John Farley;
Second that. I had the pleasure of meeting JF socially some moons ago. One of the most naturally intelligent blokes I have ever met. He can say, in a few simple words, what other people never fully express. Nice chap too - and impressively unassuming.
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Old 12th Aug 2008, 20:41
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Echo the comments on John Farley. Wonderful fellow, keen to share his (immense) knowledge in the best possible way).

The man deserves a gong.

Skua
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Old 12th Aug 2008, 23:44
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An absolutely top bloke. An aviation and air power intellectual of the very highest order, but unassuming, charming and with the patience of a saint, even with dumb journos.

Re leaders:

People seemed to speak very highly of Stu Atha, John Sullivan, and Bill Pixton.

It remains to be seen how high up the greasy pole one of them gets - being great squadron commanders didn't seem to boost the others' careers, though.
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Old 13th Aug 2008, 01:10
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Had a Wingco about 15 years ago, name v similar to a current F1 team who was very inspiring....
...inspired several half hearted mutinies a week.
(924 SQN)
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Old 13th Aug 2008, 03:50
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“Manoeuvre …………. Manoeuvre ………… {F1 Team}……….Sorry, Power MAD”
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Old 13th Aug 2008, 04:10
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One bloke I can name, one was my Winco at Lossie many years ago who went on to be an AVM I seem to recall. I guess I didn't really appreciate him at the time, but several years later at a reunion to took the time to stop and chat. Then you realised that he did take notice of every one of us in the squadron, even though you might have only seen him in or out once a month.

One other I would mention in dispatches, even though I worked with him long after I left the mob when we were both civvies. He was a test pilot who had the sort of boundless energy you get in a Collie dog. You could have a serious engineering argument with him one minute and a whimsical trip through aviation fantasy the next. Always a kind word when required, but also could point out the error of your ways in such a fashion that you took it as a compliment. If he'd still been in the mob he was the sort of officer you would have done anything for!
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Old 13th Aug 2008, 06:23
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NUFC,

Sadly I think that you are right from our side of the fence, but from my experience on operations (which is where leader is really required, and not the civilian, LEAN style politcally correct 'management') it has been the Pongos that have really impressed me. Yes they do climb up themselves at times, and yes they can be incredibly arrogant, but Brig Butler (Commander 16 Air Assault Brigade) and Lt Col Tootal (Commanding Officer, 3 Para) were truly inspirational when the rounds started going down range in Afghanistan only 1 month after Swiss Des had said that not a shot would be fired (I can name them as they have already been named in official press releases etc).

Talk about honest, direct, no faff Joint Mission Briefings and also keeping a calm and cool head when the plan started to go wrong/need dynamic adaptation, then these 2 certainly rank up there in my books. On some of the missions we knew that there was a real chance that we could be shot down (opposed SH landings, get out of here, why train for that!), but there was not one doubt in the leadership and the decisions that the Pongos were briefing and all of us were inspired.
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Old 13th Aug 2008, 10:54
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Many moons ago when I worked in MOD my department was headed up by an Air Cdre who was regarded as a bit of an "old woman" and a bit of a joke not to be taken too seriously.

He then suffered a very serious brain haemorrhage. The usual jokes were bandied around - "didn't know he had a brain", "couldn't have happened to a better bloke" etc etc. To my utmost and everlasting shame I admit that I joined in the banter.

He came out of hospital and, following a very brief recuperation period started to come in to work for a morning per week which gradually increased to a couple or three mornings per week. The jokes were still flying around 'cos we all thought that he was gone permanently and wouldn't mess up our department any longer. However, the jokes were somewhat muted as we began to acknowledge the courage of the bloke.

And then the ultimate head of the directorate was caught in a gents toilet in Oxford Street allegedly doing things that he shouldn't have been doing.

There was a bit of a kerfuffle in the department that day and the Air Cdre appeared in the office not at his usual time. Finally the announcement was made by the Air Cdre that Air Marshal ****** would not be coming in again and that he would be taking over until a replacement was found.

From that moment he then started to work all the hours that God sent while still recovering from a major operation that could have been the finish of him. And it went on for months.

The department didn't rate highly in the operational side of things and I guess that the rest of the RAF didn't notice any earth shattering effects - after all the department only dealt with pay, pensions and other conditions of service (so long as everything is OK then who gives a stuff about the blunties). However, it was entirely down to this one bloke that things did run as smoothly as they did given that we were in the middle of a pay review and major changes to other forms of pay.

The man inspired me and, I suspect, also inspired some of his more voluble critics.

Thankfully, the guy is still going strong (at least he was last Christmas when we exchanged cards).

In the words of the Reader's Digest - he is the most unforgettable character that I have ever met! Gordon Mitchell - take a bloody big bow because you deserve it
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Old 13th Aug 2008, 13:56
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Nick 'Crazy Horse' Carter, former SLOps at St Mawgan. One of the few people I have met in my life and known I was a better person for spending time with him. The last time I surfed with him at Watergate Bay is a memory that doesn't fade. I hope whatever came after this life is good to him.
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Old 13th Aug 2008, 16:05
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skua:
You say John Farley deserves a gong: google hi m and you will see that he is OBE, AFC.
I heard him speak at a meeting of the Toulouse branch of the RAeS last year- it was great.
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Old 13th Aug 2008, 18:04
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Margret Thatcher:

"We are a grandmother" to celebrate the spawn of her Desert Driving, Coup arranging son.

"Rejoice " at the sinking of the Belgrano.... not sure of that one.

"You can shove that Davy Lamp up your arse" to Arthur Scargill..... even less sure on that one.

If only the Barroness could come out of retirement and sort out the countries present woes. Michael Hestletine could help as well!
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Old 13th Aug 2008, 18:34
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Lossie, late seventies, a new OC 8 arrives. He'd been in post for a week when there was an all ranks squadron function in the OM plus ladies.. (there must have been 100+ aircrew on the sqn at that time).
After the meal, the new OC 8 and his lovely wife, the fragrant Sandy, came around all the tables in turn to chat and say hello..
To my complete surprise and admiration, they knew everyone's name including the wives..
Step forward and be recognised Phil and Sandy Burton!
The only genuine leader I met in 26 years..
(Phil later saved us from stoofing into Ben Rinnes one dark night but that's another story)
sv
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Old 13th Aug 2008, 19:42
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That's the problem with the services - you may be the most inspirational leader the world has ever seen but in order to get promoted to change the world in your image you need to agree with your boss. And strangely enough - your boss could be a real idiot. By the time you reach the top you've forgotten what you stood for and thus inspire nobody. Not to worry, help BAe get another overpriced contract with the military and they'll give you a consultancy job whilst you collect your full pay as a pension. Not too bad then, your family still love you...
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Old 13th Aug 2008, 20:09
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Sidevalve - I never met the man but I do know that over my career Phil Burton's name has come up several times in nothing but the most positive regard, I have never heard anybody speak ill of him; he must be some chap.

Rather sadly I am unable to name any RAF Air Rank officer whom I consider(ed) to be truely inspirational, a few good bosses and staiches but that's where it ends.
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Old 13th Aug 2008, 20:30
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Sidevalve beat me to it. Phil Burton was a really inspirational leader. Only guy I know who got a standing ovation at his Dining Out Night. Great loss to the RAF.
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Old 13th Aug 2008, 21:20
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The most inspirational leader I ever met was a Headteacher I worked for many years ago. He was wise, encouraging and trusting of his subordinates and was always prepared to let them test themselves. While realising that we were hardly in the sort of life and death situation met in military circles, his style extracted the best from his people and inspired them to do their absolute utmost in all aspects of their jobs.

I learned much from him and hope I was able in later years to use to advantage the skills and attitudes he inculcated in me. It was only very much later that I found that in another manifestation he had been a WW2 Cavalry Officer with a DSO and MC. He was quite a man; he's gone now and the world is worse for his passing.

His retirement evening was a night to remember!
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