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Bonfire of the Generals

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Bonfire of the Generals

Old 18th Dec 2011, 21:27
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Bonfire of the Generals

Grauniad: Ministry of Defence set to cull top jobs, according to leak

'Top heavy' department will have to axe more than 700 posts in next three years and another 335 before 2020, says document

The Ministry of Defence has become so "top heavy" with senior ranking officers and civil servants that it will have to axe more than 700 top posts in the next three years, and another 335 before 2020, according to a confidential document leaked to the Guardian. The cull will include rear admirals, major generals and air vice-marshals, as well as scores of more junior officers, such as captains and colonels, and civilians of similar seniority.

The scale of the cuts needed to balance the budget is set out in a document prepared by Jonathan Slater, the director general of transformation and strategy within the MoD. Slater sets out why the department has become so bloated in recent years and urges quick action to address the problem. The leaked document, titled Defence Reform Liability Review, was sent to senior officials last month and is unusually blunt in tone.

"The simple truth is that the defence senior cadre is larger than we can afford, is judged to be out of proportion with a reducing manpower base and also with modern working practices and societal tolerances." It adds: "The perception, both within and beyond the department, that defence is bureaucratic and top heavy must be addressed. It undermines the confidence of our own staff, parliament, the public and media, and has a detrimental impact on the delivery of frontline and other defence outputs. Put simply, the size of the defence workforce has fallen over recent decades, but reductions in the numbers of leaders has not kept pace the UK has a higher proportion of senior officers than the majority of our allies."

The document says the size of the most senior cadre within the MoD one star and above has risen by a third since 1990, and states there are too many layers in the present structures. "There is an urgent need to reduce our manpower costs reductions must be reflected at all levels of the hierarchy," it adds. Slater sets out some of the ideas the army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force will have to adopt to get the numbers down including a "presumption that the lowest possible rank should be used" for tasks "commensurate with levels of risk". The service chiefs have also been told to "identify which posts currently filled by the military might be delivered as effectively as a civilian military posts should be limited to those requiring specific military skills and experience".

The number of support staff for senior ranking officers also needs to be thinned out, the document warns. In a section headlined Indicative Reductions, Slater says he does not intend to set arbitrary targets for cuts but then gives specific ones. He sets out in a table what he regards as the minimum requirement and indicates he will need a lot of convincing if the services disagree. "The expectation is that the senior cadre would fall in accordance with the table there may be reasons why this should not be the case, but these will need to be set out."

There are currently 3,620 middle-ranking civil servants and military officers including Royal Navy captains, army colonels and RAF group captains. That number needs to have dropped to 3,011 by 2015, and to 2,724 by 2020. This would mean axing 68 navy posts, 104 in the army and 86 in the airforce. The next level up are the one and two star officers, and their civil service equivalents. Slater says the numbers holding the one star rank need to be cut from 550 to 461 by 2015, and to 423 by 2020. For those holding two stars, including rear admirals, major generals and air vice-marshals, the totals need to be cut from 152 to 126, and then to 116. Changes to the structure and responsibilities of the small number of the military's most senior officers those with three and four star ranks have been dealt with in separate reforms published earlier this year by Lord Levene.

This leaked document warns the service chiefs and civil service leaders that there can be no wriggling out of making tough decisions. "I recognise that you will all be coming from different start points. However [the reforms] should be judged against two truths. There will be an expectation that our numbers of senior officers will drop in broad proportion with overall personnel reductions, and that our current ratio of senior cadre to personnel is too high."

The MoD has already announced plans that could see up to 60,000 military personnel and civil servants axed over the next seven years it starts the second tranche of a redundancy programme in January. But no details of what will happen in the higher ranks has been revealed until now. The sheer number of posts that need to go will provoke fresh consternation within the military and among union leaders who believe the MoD is already suffering the effects of job cuts.

The MoD has been told it has until the spring to finalise its plans for job losses in the senior cadre, though it is unclear at this stage whether the loss of so many posts will inevitably lead to compulsory redundancies.

The MoD said it would not comment on figures in a leaked email. A spokesperson added: "The current redundancy programme will reduce the number of service personnel, both officers and junior ranks, to ensure the armed forces are structured to best meet current and emerging threats. Following the Levene proposals the defence reform unit is conducing a review of senior officer posts to ensure the services are not top heavy."
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Old 18th Dec 2011, 21:41
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middle-ranking civil servants and military officers including Royal Navy captains, army colonels and RAF group captains.
And there was me thinking that those ranks were classed as senior officers

About time too...
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Old 18th Dec 2011, 22:40
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"identify which posts currently filled by the military might be delivered as effectively as a civilian military posts should be limited to those requiring specific military skills and experience"
And of course, come the day that those posts are required in theatre what will happen? We either can't deploy civvies because it's too dangerous or we will have to hike their pay to such levels that it becomes unaffordable. I remember having arguments with Bosses back in the UK who wanted a capabilty improving and unreliability issues resolved, but refused to send the contractors who serviced and fixed the kit out to Theatre because of both the afformentioned reasons. We ended up going round in circles for weeks with the contractors telling use we couldn't do anything to the kit (even thought it was u/s), whilst simultaneously negotiating some no doubt eye watering contractual ammendment before they would fly out to Theatre.

When will these clowns realise that yes, defence like all insurance is expensive, but doing it on the cheap is dangerous. Keep going at this rate, and Defence will be nothing more than a cross between slightly agressive camping and the Home Guard. I'm sure Mr Slater is very good at reading the bottom line on a balance sheet, but probably far less understanding of the concept that Defence's bottom line is about slightly more intangible issues such as brining home the same number of people from an op that you went out with.

Then again, that probably isn't too much of an issue for unelected officials whose biggest worry is whether or not the 0733 from some green and leafy suburb is running on time.
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Old 18th Dec 2011, 22:55
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How dare they !!!!!!!!!

Cutting the lesser ranks is ok but how dare they cut the people who do nothing.............do people not know how this is supposed to work.
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Old 18th Dec 2011, 23:08
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Wink

We could always just do what we used to do in earlier times and use the rank = job method. P/O = pilots an aeroplane on the squadron, Flt /Lt = commands a flight of pilots, Sqn/Ldr = commands the squadron, W/Cdr = commands a base containing the squadrons, G/C = a ... you get the point. Should work for blunt types too.
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Old 18th Dec 2011, 23:44
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We could always just do what we used to do in earlier times and use the rank = job method. P/O = pilots an aeroplane on the squadron, Flt /Lt = commands a flight of pilots, Sqn/Ldr = commands the squadron, W/Cdr = commands a base containing the squadrons, G/C = a ... you get the point. Should work for blunt types too
Crikey! - apply that to the RN and we'd have four-ringers commanding P2000 patrol boats!
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Old 19th Dec 2011, 01:22
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We could always just do what we used to do in earlier times and use the rank = job method.
Yaaaawwwnnnn.... ever heard of Wg Cdr Guy Gibson, OC 617 Sqn? Or Gp Capt Leonard Cheshire, Stn Cdr RAF Marston Moor? Both examples of 'the way it was done in earlier times'. Indeed Cheshire went on to command 617 Sqn as a Gp Capt!

Most modern Sqns are many times bigger (in both aircraft and numbers of personnel) than the sqns which were commanded by Sqn Ldrs in the early days of the RAF. In fact, many modern RAF Sqns are broadly similar in size to WW2-era bomber sqns, which were typically commanded by..... Wg Cdrs!
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Old 19th Dec 2011, 05:08
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Yawnnnnnnnnn, I've heard of OC 617 Sqn, Acting Wing Commander Gibson. Most Bomber Command Squadron Commanders held acting rank.
As for pruning off senior Officers it would be interesting to know how many, for example Air rank Officers there are in relation to how many combat aircraft we have. It's been noted for many years that the RN have a lot more Captains than they have ships.
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Old 19th Dec 2011, 08:37
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So looking at this the other way it it not time for some NCO pilots ?
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Old 19th Dec 2011, 09:15
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So looking at this the other way it it not time for some NCO pilots ?
Er, why does the RAF need pilots. At the moment?

CG
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Old 19th Dec 2011, 09:21
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Melchett. I concur.
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Old 19th Dec 2011, 09:24
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Hopefully the new 1* coming to Brize can task his 2 Group Captains to find a way to trim the 22 Wing Commanders there.
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Old 19th Dec 2011, 09:34
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The best thing to do is to axe the really senior posts so that they retire early on full pay. That way they get rid of the people in the MoD who immediately stop coming to work, still pay them the same and then have to hire more civil servants to do the work. Brilliant!

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Old 19th Dec 2011, 09:50
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In answer to the query regarding the Royal Navy it looks like there are approximately EIGHT sea going commanding officers with the substantive rank of Captain, this is likely to fluctuate as the fleet shrinks.

Finding the total number of these senior officers on the payroll is more difficult but as of last year there was TWO HUNDRED and TWENTY TWO (222) No doubt both the Army and Air Force will have a similar number of officers holding the equivalent rank. Incidentally most shore establishments will have a captain in command

One aircraft carrier
2 x Type 45's
Antartic Patrol Ship
One Frigate
3 x LPH\LPD

My eye-sight is not perfect so apologies if there is a slight discrepancy.
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Old 19th Dec 2011, 10:20
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How about forming a Gobble of Turkeys to vote for Christmas then?
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Old 19th Dec 2011, 11:29
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"In fact, many modern RAF Sqns are broadly similar in size to WW2-era bomber sqns,"
Who are you trying to kid? A WWII bomber squadron could have 20+ serviceable aircraft PLUS those being worked on by the repair teams
You'd be hard pushed to get that number of aircraft in the air for the whole Tornado force now
I agree the manpower per squadron is probably higher now though...
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Old 19th Dec 2011, 11:44
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During the 90s there was an inexorable creep in ranks in the RN, mainly to gain parity with the RAF. Squadrons that were commanded by Lieutenant Commanders suddenly got Commanders, Stations that were commanded by Captains got Commodores.

The Army in particular are overborne. they even have a 1* in charge of sport! I think at the last count they had something like 100 1*s from which they could choose the best to promote. The RAF and the RN have a much smaller pot to choose from, hence very few senior RN Officers get to the top in the MoD. IMHO!
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Old 19th Dec 2011, 12:12
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But Widger, for historical reasons the officer rank pyramids have been vastly different shapes.

The Army had (relatively) fewer command posts at full Colonel, while the RAF and the RN had lots. Similarly, Army had (relatively) lots of 1* posts compared to the other two services.

Recall that until recently in t'Army it was possibly to be promoted directly from Lt Col to Brigadier, and in the RN from 4 Ring Captain straight to Rear Adm.

And there remains a shadow of the historical differences in the pay scales. The big jumps (in RAF speak) are from sqn ldr to wg cdr and from gp capt to air cdre - precisely because the Army pattern is followed and their big (=good) command tours are at Lt Col and Brig level - many a newly promoted gp capt has had his joy lessened by the meagre pay rise - even worse when coupled with a loss/decrease in Flying Pay .......

Remember once briefing a new Stn Cdr on my major 2dry Duty on his Stn. He was sat there in the big office, feet on desk, biting his fingernails (narrows it down for those who know!) He was reading his first pay chit as a groupie.

Staish: Bl%%dy hell Teeters, why do you get more fing Flying pay than I do?
Teeters: Well Sir, it's probably because I do a lot more fing flying than you do!

(collapse of OC A and SWO [both female] who were in attendance!)
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Old 19th Dec 2011, 12:16
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Charliegolf

I would agree with you that the RAF is not in need of pilots at the moment but things will move on and if the aim is to move responsabiltity to the lowest suitable rank then surely NCO pilots would be a logical step.
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Old 19th Dec 2011, 12:26
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Often been studied and the results seem to indicate that - counter intuitively - SNCO pilots are not cheaper. They are not much less expensive in terms of Ts & Cs, and typically do not serve as long (5 years fewer on average), which redresses the pay differential.

That said, the last formal study in the RAF (that I am aware of) was more than 10 years ago - maybe we need to look again ........?
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