I say old boy they can't do that, what what!

  TopCat® 16:57 20 Dec 2011

I see the axe is going to fall, over time, on more than a 1000 very senior officers of the Army, Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. I'd begun to wonder just how long these people could continue to escape attention within our shrinking military forces. Too many chiefs and not enough warriors for quite some time now, I believe.

The MoD reveals here its future strategy and proposals. As an ex-serviceman I'm not sure I fully agree with all the outlined measures. Their thinking on proposed replacement, wherever possible, of military personnel by civilians does not sit well on my shoulders, for instance. Does anyone else hold an opinion on this? TC.

  Aitchbee 18:18 20 Dec 2011

As a civilian (and fan of Dad's Army),I would think that the removal of experienced staff from British Forces, will have a detrimental long term effect on the defence of our country.

  badgery 18:27 20 Dec 2011

There are surely many jobs in the Services that don't require full military training. Officer's drivers, secretaries, storemen might all be done by civilians. I'm sure there are loads of others - if it saves money and frees up soldiers to do their job then it should be considered,

The police have had these civilians for years, hospitals don't need fully qualified medics for every job.

  morddwyd 20:10 20 Dec 2011

"Officer's drivers, secretaries, storemen might all be done by civilians"

Until something like the Falklands comes up and they are expected to work anywhere they are needed with few breaks and no meals!

When Operation Corporate (the Falklands) came up I was at a base in Norfolk.

A telephone call at 9.45 from a senior officer in Wiltshire saw me on my way there with an overnight bag by noon.

Over the next three weeks I went without a break to Chivenor in Devon, to Milford Haven, Kinloss, Cheshire, over to Norfolk (three times, but no overnight and on one visit I did not even get home) down to Portland in Dorset, two trips to Southampton and one to Portsmouth before I got home again.

A lot of my meals were airline or motorway food, and a lot of my kip was in airport lounges or roadside lay-bys.

I was nobody special, and my experience was no different from a thousand others (and I loved every minute of it. The whole of my then thirty year working life had been spent training for such an event, and now I was actually doing it!) but I doubt that a civilian would have put up with it, and certainly not for the pay and allowances I was getting!

  Woolwell 21:04 20 Dec 2011

In my experience there are too many senior officers. I was going to write more but caution caught up with me!

The problem with giving jobs to civilians is that it removes posts which serving personnel can go to when not on operations and removes the fat from which you can immediately draw personnel in case of an emergency. You cannot keep people in operational roles indefinitely.

One of the problems that occurs when you do not have military personnel with for example IT experience is that the procurement specification gets written by someone without operational experience. Then the program requires altering at a late stage at great expense and there are these costly over budget procurements.

I suspect that, unless someone is serving in the Household Division, not much time is spent "square-bashing" nowadays or even 20 years ago.

  Woolwell 21:36 20 Dec 2011

fourm member

"Your experience is seeing things from the inside so it makes it difficult to accept that things could be done as well by outsiders, in certain circumstances." Oh I have no doubt that some things can be done as well by others in certain circumstances (that is also in my experience). But my experience mentioned was in relation to the number of senior officers.

Also I think that I would prefer to have someone who knows what they are talking about when it comes to procuring equipment. That is usually gained through experience.

  badgery 21:45 20 Dec 2011


With all due respect, when a 'Falklands' occurs I still do not see the need for office workers and General's drivers being required to be immediately in situ.

There have to be jobs that can be done by civilians in the military. Perhaps they could be deemed 'semi military civilians' who agree to be on call in a national emergency. There must be a way, although I realise it must be anathema to former servicemen to have it even suggested.

But in hard economic times nothing must be sacred.

  Woolwell 22:52 20 Dec 2011

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is manned by civilians. This is a classic type of job that can be done by civilians.

Speaking from a naval perspective it used to be that there were jobs ashore which people could do when not at sea. These have gradually been removed already. Part of the plan was for ships to be cleaned by contractors forgetting what happens on a lengthy deployment.

Bringing in more civilians isn't impossible but it has to be done with care and that hasn't always been the case.

  morddwyd 07:28 21 Dec 2011

"I still do not see the need for office workers and General's drivers being required to be immediately in situ."

I can assure you that as an office worker I was required to be where I was needed (though not actually in situ in the Islands) within three hours.

  flycatcher1 19:15 22 Dec 2011

Another one from the inside - and proud of it. There are far too many Senior Officers but, in mitigation, quite a few extra are required for duties within NATO and other Allied Headquarters.

During the pull out from the Far East some of the Senior Officers were the last to leave Singapore. A friend of mine, who served in WW2, said that it was not like that in 1941.

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