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Probe of soldier's suicide reveals hazing, harassment, fight club at Wpg armoury

FJAG

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Furniture said:
So the key take away is that SNCOs are the problem, and officers are helpless victims?
...

No. No. No. That's the wrong takeaway from this. Problems in leadership can and do happen at every level. Different circumstances have differing results.

In any military that creates it's officer corps primarily by way of recruitment from the street (either direct entry or RMC or West Point or Sandhurst) rather than from within the ranks, you will naturally have a separate career stream for NCOs and commissioned officers where, generally, the NCOs will have age and experience on their side while junior officers commanding their first troop or platoon have neither.

In the British tradition of militaries (and we still pretty much are one of those) Snr NCOs have always been the bridge between the ranks and the officer corps at least within the battalion level. We have always depended very heavily on the Snr NCOs, especially at the platoon level, to educate and support junior officers, in their ability to command troops.

The point here is that such Snr NCOs have the dual responsibility of leading, training and protecting their troops while building the skills and confidence of their officers. Sometimes that system breaks down for any number of reasons: the officer is too stubborn (or stupid) to learn, the Snr NCO can't be bothered being an officer's baby-sitter or what have you. In the case I described above, the troops and junior officers were in their early twenties while the Snr NCOs were in their forties. Circumstances had created a significant age gap as a result of which the bridge between troops and officers wasn't working as it should.

I agree with you that the situation that started this thread was a failure at all levels. Unfortunately MBWA is negated by one of our systemic issues (especially in the reserves) where officers are all too often swamped in administrative matters that keep them in the office rather than out on the floor. That same division almost ensures that Snr NCOs have less and less time with their junior officers to help develop them properly. Also, typically for a reserve unit, such improper activities take place "after hours" or "off-site" where there is no supervision.

I also tend to agree with about MBWA at the Jnr NCO level. As a young gunner on my Jnr NCO course, I was certainly taught how to lead and closely supervise my subordinates because that was my main job. Quite frankly though, I didn't have to do much MBWA because basically the folks I looked after were usually within a few yards of me. I didn't get the same training at the officer cadet level. We did have training and exercises where we supervised others but those were usually our fellow cadets. We were taught very little about "garrison" leadership.

I sometimes wonder if some of these types of issues, as in the instant case, are really centered on the breakdown of the corporal rank. Back when I was a young gunner and bombardier, there was a distinct division amongst the junior ranks between the gunners on the one hand and lance bombardiers and bombardiers on the other.  Bombardiers were leaders who generally kept the more unruly junior ranks behaviour in check. Obviously today's bombardiers/corporals no longer fit that bill, and I sometimes wonder how much our master bombardiers/corporals in the reserves have taken up that leadership role when off the floor or not on exercise. Unfortunately I've been too long away from the coal face to know whether my suspicions have any basis in fact.

:stirpot:
 

Jarnhamar

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Young officers don't have time to command their platoons because they're too busy dealing with insessent admin and metric gathering from the coc and HQ.


Besides do reserves need to train for anything larger than company level?
 

daftandbarmy

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Jarnhamar said:
Young officers don't have time to command their platoons because they're too busy dealing with insessent admin and metric gathering from the coc and HQ.


Besides do reserves need to train for anything larger than company level?

Nailed it x 2 IMHO  :nod:
 

Blackadder1916

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Jarnhamar said:
Young officers don't have time to command their platoons because they're too busy dealing with insessent admin and metric gathering from the coc and HQ.


Besides do reserves need to train for anything larger than company level?

Often that "incessant admin and metric gathering" are tasks assigned to young officers by their OC or Adjt as part of their development as officers.  Do you think that adjutants (the good ones anyway) magically appear all knowing.  Usually it's because in the past they have been given innumerable petty problems that they've had to research and provide a written response to a superior who harshly corrected their spelling, grammar and conclusions with gleeful application of the big red pencil.  At one time on those means it was similarly a common response to a poorly drafted post.  As an officer, it was part of my learning experience as well as how I provided necessary experience to young officers who worked for me.
 

daftandbarmy

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Blackadder1916 said:
Often that "incessant admin and metric gathering" are tasks assigned to young officers by their OC or Adjt as part of their development as officers.  Do you think that adjutants (the good ones anyway) magically appear all knowing.  Usually it's because in the past they have been given innumerable petty problems that they've had to research and provide a written response to a superior who harshly corrected their spelling, grammar and conclusions with gleeful application of the big red pencil.  At one time on those means it was similarly a common response to a poorly drafted post.  As an officer, it was part of my learning experience as well as how I provided necessary experience to young officers who worked for me.

A great way to learn, of course, but one that has been largely replaced with 100 trivial emails per month (at least).

One way I got my platoon commanders to connect more effectively with their troops was to have them meet me in my office monthly and walk me through each one on their strength. I’d check with the CSM afterwards to see if they knew their stuff, of course.

It also helped me get my head in the game for PERs, course and employment season etc.
 

Old Sweat

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This has been a feature of Canadian (and probably all British-pattern) armies for a very long time, dating far back from when I first encountered it in the early sixties in Gagetown. Remember the old drinking ditty that went "Old King Cole was a merry, old soul, And a merry, old soul was Old King Cole". One verse went "He called for his pipe in the middle of the night, And he called for his subalterns three. We do all the work said the subalterns . . ."
 

Blackadder1916

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Old Sweat said:
This has been a feature of Canadian (and probably all British-pattern) armies for a very long time, dating far back from when I first encountered it in the early sixties in Gagetown. Remember the old drinking ditty that went "Old King Cole was a merry, old soul, And a merry, old soul was Old King Cole". One verse went "He called for his pipe in the middle of the night, And he called for his subalterns three. We do all the work said the subalterns . . ."

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2134977?image=1

or for the Gunner in you. . .  https://lyricsplayground.com/alpha/songs/o/oldkingcole.html
 

FJAG

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Blackadder1916 said:
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2134977?image=1

or for the Gunner in you. . .  https://lyricsplayground.com/alpha/songs/o/oldkingcole.html

Thanks for that. Lovely to see all the words for a song I sung dozens of times in my youth. To my recollection, the phrase was not "merry old soul" but rather "merry a--h--e" and the Captains said "We get all the s--t". But that may have been just a local version.  ;D

:cheers:
 

Jarnhamar

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Blackadder1916 said:
Often that "incessant admin and metric gathering" are tasks assigned to young officers by their OC or Adjt as part of their development as officers.  Do you think that adjutants (the good ones anyway) magically appear all knowing.  Usually it's because in the past they have been given innumerable petty problems that they've had to research and provide a written response to a superior who harshly corrected their spelling, grammar and conclusions with gleeful application of the big red pencil.  At one time on those means it was similarly a common response to a poorly drafted post.  As an officer, it was part of my learning experience as well as how I provided necessary experience to young officers who worked for me.

I could be mistaken but I'm guessing it's been a while since you've been a platoon commander or were in charge of developing them.

I suggest that because I'm guessing you haven't seen the volume of email and admin they're bombarded with these days (or maybe you do).

My platoon commander went on leave for a week and had over 400 emails (I'm not exaggerating). I was speechless. He had his out of office on and he was still getting emails demanding updates to previous emails.

If that's how the CAF wants to develop platoon commanders into adjt's don't get upset when Sgts and WOs run the platoon in the commanders absence (and the Lt is seen more of a figure head).
 

Furniture

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FJAG said:
No. No. No. That's the wrong takeaway from this. Problems in leadership can and do happen at every level. Different circumstances have differing results.

In any military that creates it's officer corps primarily by way of recruitment from the street (either direct entry or RMC or West Point or Sandhurst) rather than from within the ranks, you will naturally have a separate career stream for NCOs and commissioned officers where, generally, the NCOs will have age and experience on their side while junior officers commanding their first troop or platoon have neither.

In the British tradition of militaries (and we still pretty much are one of those) Snr NCOs have always been the bridge between the ranks and the officer corps at least within the battalion level. We have always depended very heavily on the Snr NCOs, especially at the platoon level, to educate and support junior officers, in their ability to command troops.

The point here is that such Snr NCOs have the dual responsibility of leading, training and protecting their troops while building the skills and confidence of their officers. Sometimes that system breaks down for any number of reasons: the officer is too stubborn (or stupid) to learn, the Snr NCO can't be bothered being an officer's baby-sitter or what have you. In the case I described above, the troops and junior officers were in their early twenties while the Snr NCOs were in their forties. Circumstances had created a significant age gap as a result of which the bridge between troops and officers wasn't working as it should.

I agree with you that the situation that started this thread was a failure at all levels. Unfortunately MBWA is negated by one of our systemic issues (especially in the reserves) where officers are all too often swamped in administrative matters that keep them in the office rather than out on the floor. That same division almost ensures that Snr NCOs have less and less time with their junior officers to help develop them properly. Also, typically for a reserve unit, such improper activities take place "after hours" or "off-site" where there is no supervision.

I also tend to agree with about MBWA at the Jnr NCO level. As a young gunner on my Jnr NCO course, I was certainly taught how to lead and closely supervise my subordinates because that was my main job. Quite frankly though, I didn't have to do much MBWA because basically the folks I looked after were usually within a few yards of me. I didn't get the same training at the officer cadet level. We did have training and exercises where we supervised others but those were usually our fellow cadets. We were taught very little about "garrison" leadership.

I sometimes wonder if some of these types of issues, as in the instant case, are really centered on the breakdown of the corporal rank. Back when I was a young gunner and bombardier, there was a distinct division amongst the junior ranks between the gunners on the one hand and lance bombardiers and bombardiers on the other.  Bombardiers were leaders who generally kept the more unruly junior ranks behaviour in check. Obviously today's bombardiers/corporals no longer fit that bill, and I sometimes wonder how much our master bombardiers/corporals in the reserves have taken up that leadership role when off the floor or not on exercise. Unfortunately I've been too long away from the coal face to know whether my suspicions have any basis in fact.

:stirpot:

Well said, I was perhaps a bit more harsh than was deserved.

I tend to agree that the real issue in many cases is the failure of leadership at the most Jr. level.

To expand on why I think this happens; I believe we have become too "risk adverse" as an organization. We don't let Cpls, and MCpls make mistakes, then learn from them. We know a Sgt//WO/Capt can handle the problem, so we use them, rather than letting the more Jr members learn through trial and error. This leads to lowered expectations of our Jr leaders, which means they live up to our lowered expectations.

I'm as guilty as the next leader, I've done things my Cpl/MCpl should be doing just because I know I won't have to spend time correcting them... 
 

LittleBlackDevil

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Furniture said:
So the key take away is that SNCOs are the problem, and officers are helpless victims?

That's not what I got from daftandbarmy's post, and I think FJAG's follow-up was good.

For my part, I tried to be clear that I wasn't trying to portray myself as a victim at all when speaking of my own inadequacies and the lack of garrison leadership training I received in Gagetown ... as I said "I make no excuses for this -- it's on me that I didn't ask questions or take more initiative rather than sitting around thinking I didn't know what I was doing. At 19/20 I was probably also too young and stupid for the job."
 

CountDC

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Furniture said:
I'm as guilty as the next leader, I've done things my Cpl/MCpl should be doing just because I know I won't have to spend time correcting them...

Shame on you.    :not-again:
 

Furniture

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CountDC said:
Shame on you.    :not-again:

If this is some deep troll, well played.

If it isn't, get over yourself. You are far more likely to be part of the problem than the solution. Shaming people for being human, and doing human things is counter productive. We should be encouraging people to admit to their failings,and then improving on them.

Your sad attempt at making me feel bad is both weak and ineffective. In 30+ years you should heave learned how to read, and by extension lead senior people.
 

OldSolduer

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Hind sight is always 20/20.

And it’s very easy to judge people despite knowing nothing of the context of the situation.

Just two thoughts on this.
 

brihard

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Furniture said:
If this is some deep troll, well played.

If it isn't, get over yourself. You are far more likely to be part of the problem than the solution. Shaming people for being human, and doing human things is counter productive. We should be encouraging people to admit to their failings,and then improving on them.

Your sad attempt at making me feel bad is both weak and ineffective. In 30+ years you should heave learned how to read, and by extension lead senior people.

I’m reasonably confident he was joking.
 

BeyondTheNow

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Furniture said:
If this is some deep troll, well played.

If it isn't, get over yourself. You are far more likely to be part of the problem than the solution. Shaming people for being human, and doing human things is counter productive. We should be encouraging people to admit to their failings,and then improving on them.

Your sad attempt at making me feel bad is both weak and ineffective. In 30+ years you should heave learned how to read, and by extension lead senior people.

As I’m sure you’re aware, intent and context can often be misunderstood when solely relying on the written word. I read his response as being tongue-in-cheek.

There have been many instances during my professional life where I’ve also done things myself rather than teaching and overseeing another for the simple fact it was easier and more expedient at the time. Sometimes there were other reasons combined as well, sometimes I simply wasn’t in the mood to babysit. And those were the times where I dismissed an opportunity to influence and lead due to my own shortcomings in that moment.  I’m pretty sure we’ve all done that at one time or another.
 
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