Support The Troops
The British Army is one of the most advanced Armies in the world and arguably the best trained in the world. So, why can't it retain it's highly skilled troops?
Army 2020, was the initiative actioned to reshape the British Army. The Regular Army was to be cut and the Army Reserve bolstered. The target numbers were 82,000 by 2020, backed up by a reserve force of around 35,000.
The Regular Army is 7,000 troops short of the 82,000 target. The Reserve Army is a different matter, what you see on paper and what actually exists in reality, can be 2 very different figures.
Once upon a time, I was a member of 5 SCOTS (TALO Battalion) 16 Air Assault Brigade.
What I can say is, we had the best training, the best kit and equipment. The only people who rivalled us in that department were the Americans and French.
However, you can't train all of the time (even though I think we should).
Sometimes barrack life can be tedious for an Infantry Soldier. When one is not engaged in high intensity training, the normal daily routine is physical training and more or less odd jobs.
There is a field of egos, whom hold the disciplinary power, some of whom will look for an excuse to use that power in order to break the monotonous barrack life.
This leads to Soldiers feeling 2nd class and in turn breaks moral and team cohesion. There is a difference between Bull S*** and discipline, a lesson the Army must learn.
Another lesson the Army must learn, is the most important one. It's good at attracting fresh young recruits. However, the Army has failed to take in to account that the year is 2020 and not 1920. Meaning, the young people of today are intelligent and are eager to prosper.
This is a shaky time for the Army, in a sense its make or break!
Retention is the key to a formidable force. Lets break the tedious half of Army life, lets make the Army a centre for learning as well as overseas operations.
The next Army recruitment drive should say:
Be The Best, join a world class Army, be a world class Soldier, study from GCSE to Degree, it won't be easy, but that's the point!
The Army should structure itself as an education centre as well as a fighting force. A place where people can go for adventure and at the same time better themselves, preparing them for life after the adventure.
Soldiers would be the best trained in the world, whilst studying for their future.
This type of set up would attract more people, stimulate their minds whilst not on high intensity operations or exercises and give them the best chance upon their departure from the Armed Forces.
I think it's time... that the British Army struck up a proper partnership with the Open University and not only supported Soldiers in study, but pencilled it in as a requirement of barrack life.