What price commonality

I want to start a conversation about commonality across the three services for equipment.

We have on many occasions looked at this, discussed how generally, it is a good idea, but never really got into why it does not always happen and perhaps, how it should happen.

First, is commonality a good idea?

The answer might sound obvious, of course it is.

If we want to drive down costs across the whole of defence, commonality is one means. It means we can achieve economies of scale and drive down support costs by reductions in spares holdings, training courses, consumables management, spreading wear and tear across a larger fleet and reducing the inevitable manufacturer second or third line maintenance contracts.

Just looking at one of those, training, if all three services have their own unique requirement and resultant equipment, it means three training courses, those training courses but have courseware generated and validated, trainers have to be trained, training facilities maintained and wherever there are people costs, we also have pensions, healthcare and other welfare provision.

In any way you look at it, cost reduction is derived from economies of scale, and economies of scale can only be achieved through commonality because lets face it, the RAF is not going to be ordering hundreds of anything major any time soon and neither are the other services.

Casting the net wider, multi-national or collaborative development projects strive for commonality but very rarely achieve it, the recent A400M example is illustrative of this. The RAF will be spending between £30m and £50m of the defence budget, or taxpayers hard earned, on release to service for the difference between the baseline A400M and the UK version.

To put that into perspective, that is between 3 and 5 years running costs for a Bay Class LSD(A), or 3 to 5 years of the Red Arrows if you want to keep it light blue.

However, if we strive for commonality is there a danger of ending up with sub optimal solutions across all three services?

Another obvious answer, yes, of course there is.

So the argument becomes one not characterised by black and white, but shades of grey.

For an example, let’s start with automatic cannons, a piece of equipment that could be argued, has a high potential for the elusive goal of one size fits all.

In the light blue corner, there was the Aden 30mm cannon that was still in service when the Mauser BK 27mm was introduced on the Tornado and Typhoon. If we do end up purchasing a cannon pod for the F35B, it will not be the Mauser or Aden, the General Dynamics GAU-22/A

The Army has the Rarden 30mm that will be replaced by the CTA 40mm, both joining the ATK M230 30mm cannon that arms the Apache helicopter.

With the dark blue, there is the ATK Bushmaster II 30mm on the DS30M mounts, older 30mm Oerlikon KCB, 20mm Oerlikon KAA and if you want, the Phalanx and Goalkeeper CIWS.

See what I am getting at, all of those fire roughly 20mm-30mm projectiles at the Queens enemies, all are different, all require their own support contracts, armourers courses and ammunition holdings. That ammunition will potentially be life expired at different points and require expensive disposal.

On face value it seems ludicrous that there are so many variations on a very similar theme.

But dig a little deeper and the choices made by which we ended up with this menageries of 30mm weapons are all reasonable and in many ways are all eminently sensible.

Could we put a Rarden in a Tornado, might be somewhat difficult reloading the clip at 30,000 feet, is a high rate of fire cannon like the 27mm Mauser really suitable for shipboard use. Electrical or mechanical cycling might sound an esoteric difference but in a complex electromagnetic environment like a frigates deck, safety says it is not. Does the 30mm Bushmaster have the required performance of the 40mm CTA against existing and emerging armoured vehicle threats?

These are all considerations that drive divergence.

And yet we come back to the cost realities of pursuing the 100% solution, simply, in a world of finite or reducing defence budgets we might have to face compromise.

Another example, Brimstone, why is it this was not specified for carriage on Apache or storage and handling on ships. Storm Shadow stand off cruise missile, another example, why was this not examined with ground or ship launching in mind?

It is here that we see the pernicious effects of inter service rivalry.

If Storm Shadow, just one example, could be ship launched, or fired off the back of a truck, as it should be, the service uniqueness evaporates and the platform most suited for the task should be used.

Libya showcased the brilliant capability of the Tornado, in flight refuelling and all round goodness, a brilliant capability to have. But what if during the billion pound development of Storm Shadow, the MoD had insisted on platform launch diversity?

The Royal Navy Tomahawk cruise missile, another fantastic capability, accepting the differences between Storm Shadow and Tomahawk, why can we only deliver this weapon from a very small number of submarines?

Without dissecting the specifics of Libya, it seems common sense to have platform diversity for as much equipment we have.

Looking at future equipment, the moribund Fire Shadow loitering munition, a piece of equipment that the Army developed in isolation, why not have a version that can be air launched, submarine launched or even launched from a frigate using Harpoon launch tubes?

The Third Generation Maritime Fires (TMF) project was a strong effort by the MoD, DSTL and BAE to utilise AS90 barrels/breaches in the existing Mk8 mountings and in service NATO standard 155mm ammunition to meet the future naval gunfire requirements. It would have provided ammunition commonality across the Royal Navy and Royal artillery, tapping into the wide number of 155mm manufacturers for current and future requirements, whether that is plain old HE or extended range precision natures. Even if the bagged propellant charges were not used and some other combustible case used instead to meet naval fire resistance requirements (so still some development) the expensive bits at the front would still be common. The two part ammunition might have slowed down the rate of fire but to compensate, it would have had a bigger bang.

Economies of scale, tapping into the significantly larger 155mm ammunition market and shared ammunition.

What a brilliant idea.

Except it was defunded and cancelled in 2010 and now the Royal Navy will be striving for commonality with other naval forces, those equipped with either the BAE 5″ Oto Melara 127mm.

One promising development is the Common Anti Air Missile system that after decades of service specific unique solutions to the common requirement of shooting down aircraft is addressing the needs of both the Royal Navy and Army.

Sea Ceptor Missile

Common Anti Air Modular Missile FLAADS(L)
Common Anti Air Modular Missile FLAADS(L)
Sea Ceptor missile system FLAADS(M)
Sea Ceptor missile system FLAADS(M)

Hoorah

Was this a fortunate by product of Rapier and Sea Wolf going out of service at roughly the same time or was a demand from the MoD for commonality and launch platform diversity?

I would hope it was the latter.

This means the MoD, through the defence lines of development and through life cost management approach is actually getting better, but then I come back to Fire Shadow.

Which then leads me on to Wildcat.

Commonality, a laudable goal, results in a suboptimal capability for one party.

Commonality is a complex subject with no easy answers!

At every requirements setting exercise, do we now look at the other services future requirements and think you know what, with a tweak here, a bit more cost up front and an acceptance of compromise, we could save a shed load of money in the long term?

Can the MoD spend to save or is cross service requirements governance too weak.

Who will sign off on potentially increasing development programme costs whilst possibly reducing narrow service centric capabilities against the promise of savings in jam tomorrow?

Is single service politics just too strong or are capability arguments that result in a lack of commonality entirely plausible and we just have to suck it up?

Merlin HC3 anyone?

 

 

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Kibbitz Van Ogle
Kibbitz Van Ogle
March 4, 2014 10:26 pm

“Commonality” ??
I hear interesting things about a Joint Strike Fighter in the US…

paul g
March 4, 2014 10:49 pm

said it before and i’ll say it again. As soon as they go firm on how many warriors are getting the upgrade and which units are changing from tracked to wheeled ( it changes all the time before someone drags out last weeks numbers). First IA tell whithams to f**k off when they come sniffing to buy ’em for tuppence, get them de turreted and then fit for ambulance (possible roof rise) and mortar carriers. Not sure if would be welcomed but a Spartan type command vehicle as well (worked in a command warrior bit tight in there and I believe there’s a lot more in there nowadays). As pointed out the less types the less training and spares carried are required, and who knows if there is still some hulls then you can go exotic BAe already have a working warrior bridgelayer, and if you really want to push the boat out, fit the cockerill 105mm turret, as it fires the falerick missile it can function in the overwatch a lá swingfire!!
Costs could be controlled as (hopefully) by the end of the year ops over and we’ll have some REME bods free, I was at fallingbostel when we did the TOGS retrofit, mostly done by us with civvy project managers, went without a hitch.
this could enable us to ditch the bulldogs and the positively ancient 432 ambulances

Mark
Mark
March 4, 2014 10:55 pm

We did have a thing about anti ship missiles we had harpoon, Exocet and sea eagle at one point.

As for storm shadow are the French not in the process of deploying a ship and a submarine launched version?

Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson
March 4, 2014 11:04 pm

If France & UK are going to continue these joint exercises – mainly naval & naval aviation so far, with a bit of land exercices, they’re going to need to use same ammo etc. Pilots of choppers & Air Arms have been on exchange schemes in low numbers, admittedly,for a long time. Sorry jokes apout the surrender mongers, need to be revised – we’re stuck with French as the closest allies for a bit. No the Americans come & go as they please as politics & missions change.Living in northern France & frankly befor never considered the frogs as a valuable allie for uk, but lets face it they can project, fight hard,then trail locals for the job & retire huge nos of troops & equipment for next conflict damn quick. Now the new A400M Atlas (aka Grizzly) & new tankers/troopers coming into service,they need less outside support, & in few years will be able to give support to other NATO or UN missions. Like the Brit forces they are going to lose some significant numbers from forrces, but are finally receiving more modern capable equipment, & exercising regularly with UK forces. The Franco German division is in complete disarray & may totally dissolve, from what i’ve been reading, in both Frog & Geeman. France seems to have repivoted too & decided it’s safer & wiser to train & intergrate with UK forces. God elp the Brits & the fellow French if Ch’tis join the cadre, or noone will understand a word – i’m still working on the dialect after 2 1/years, with very slow progress – Salut biloute (normal salute to yer mates every day, which translates after continual efforts as “Little dick”).

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 4, 2014 11:08 pm

@ Mark

Yes MdCN which will be fired from Aster 70 launchers on FREMM and via the Torpedo Tubes on their new Barracuda class SSNs. No mention of being able to fire from current Rubis class.
It only has a Range of about 200Nm so not sure the RN will want to trade in our tomahawks.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 4, 2014 11:31 pm

@TD
Think they claim several hundred Kms and had heard greater than 350km banded about. Also seen 1000km so about 600nm. It I’d about 1.4 M longer and 200kg heavier than storm shadow but is not air launched so cannot see it massively improving on SS 300,NM range.

x
x
March 4, 2014 11:55 pm

Martin
Editor
March 5, 2014 12:38 am

SCALP (n) does have longer rang than storm shadow but it’s quoted at 3 or 4 times the price of TLAM. I don’t think its an area for looking for commonality savings. I think commonality can also be better achieved amongst NATO allies than amongst different services. The F35, 127mm naval gun and 120 smooth bore tank gun are all good examples of this.

In fairness to the MOd I think they have begun to lose their desire for Gucci extras and I think issues like A400M commonality are legacy issues.

that being said Westland Apache is a good example of where the Gucci extras came in handy in afghanistan being the only version of AH64 able to carry the long bow radar in high altitudes but the cost once the US army stops supporting our current version could be prohibitive.

Obsvr
Obsvr
March 5, 2014 8:41 am

Great in theory, less so in practice. If there is to be standardisation then for weapons it should be on the needs of the main user in terms of expected ammo expenditure, which probably correlates quite well with equipment numbers. This will almost invariably mean the Army requirements come first. Working back from that then things like cannons may need to be electrically powered in aircraft but strictly mechanical in AFVs, at least as far as UK is concerned. Put together this could seriously limit choice and could well lead to an inferior solution for someone.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 5, 2014 9:07 am

The only hooray case cited by TD may have some history to explain the willingness to play together: seawolf was performing… Shall we say…at medoicre level before some tracking elements were borrowed from Rapier. So, when both came up for replacement, there was a proven case for commonality.

@ martin, the 3-4 times unit cost difference comes from the fact that the French Parliament autnorised both the programme and the inventory level (900, I seem to remember) in the same go whereas for TLAM it is the unit costs that are quoted, development having been amortised yonks ago
… Ohh, and for UK service, add half a mln to covedf the wrapper ghat gets it to surface, after the underwater launch!

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
March 5, 2014 9:16 am

On the subject of commonality does any body know whether the same engines from the MAN wagons are getting dropped into the Mastiff/Cougar/Wolfhound/Husky being brought into core?

Tom
Tom
March 5, 2014 9:30 am

TD – Re Merlin HC3 – A good example but from what I remember this was largely due to the fact that CHF were planning to get their own sparkly replacement for the Junglies, and there didn’t need those ‘orrid RAF types on board their lovely LPH.

The RAF were in desperate need of replacement for the Wessex, but also (sensibly IMO) wanted a tail ramp and were interested in fitting Inflight refueling probes to develop a proper CSAR capability. They were also looking at giving it a chin mounted 12.7mm MG.

Operations on board ship were considered very much secondary at the time, as that was CHF domain.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 5, 2014 9:54 am

Maybe this sort of thinking has been , at the level of commonality of mission features
On October 01, 2003 the CSAR mission passed temporarily from Air Combat Command (ACC) to Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOCOM), which determined that it needed new aircraft for combat search-and-rescue missions (CSAR). Traditionally, the CSAR mission has been limited to the recovery of downed aircrew from within hostile territory. However, the mission is evolving with the nature of modern warfare to enable rapid insertion and/or recovery of special operations forces”

Maybe we have refuel-lable CSAR birds after all, they are just not called such?

TAS
TAS
March 5, 2014 11:26 am

Unable to think 2 steps ahead? Unable to think about ‘commonality’? Perhaps we need to get the three Services thinking jointly first before we start buying jointly. You know, think about operations in all three environments rather than just one?

Common training is not a way ahead. Sailors are not soldiers and vice versa. Marines and Rock Apes maybe, but Sandhurst generates hundreds of recruits in a dozen different fields whereas Royal is highly specialised. What about the associated costs of shutting down training sites and building new facilities, accommodation, etc? I could happily re-raise my belief that everyone who works on an aircraft should wear light blue and go though Cranwell, wears green and shoots people go through Sandhurst and everyone else wear dark blue, thus making the Services truly Joint, but that’s drawn nothing but ridicule in the past so I shan’t. Imagine the RAF deploying away for 6 months or more as an embarked flight! Ha! http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Defence/article606533.ece

Don’t criticise the HC3 too harshly – the RAF was under pressure to improve its heavy lift fleet and the MOD fell prey to AugustaWestland shareholder pressure. We all know they’d rather have extra Pumas and Chinooks – which are better for what they are designed to do anyway. But there’s nothing ‘sparkly’ about the HC4 conversion – quote:

‘The £454m Merlin Life Sustainment Programme will see 25 HC3/HC3A airframes fitted with the cockpit electronics of the HM2, folding tails and main rotor heads, strengthened landing gear, deck lashing mounting points, obsolescence updates, fast-roping points and a common emergency egress system.’ At least this is all being done at the common Merlin maintenance facility in Culdrose.

It’s an unfortunate fact that any true ‘commonality’ system or platform must operate in the harshest environments possible – dusty desert and salt-corrosive sea air – so maybe they have top be pricey to last more then five minutes.

Derek
Derek
March 5, 2014 12:00 pm

Commonality rears it’s hideously ugly head far too frequently.

First, just to lay one element of this piece to rest. A large section of this post is not about commonality it is about putting systems on every platform that can theoretically take them- which if anything is diversity. That does nothing but increasing costs by adding multiple individual integration programmes. For example, why does the UK only fire Tomahawk from it’s SSNs? Answer, because it can not afford very many Tomahawk’s so it puts them on its most strategically mobile platforms- the SSNs. Without buying many more tomahawks (and VLS cells) there really is no benefit to integrating the type onto other platforms.

The next issue; the risk of over commonality, we endlessly get people here banging on about how there should only be one platform type for x number of roles. That misses the point, a tactical or strategic air lifter is great for air lifting but is an awful airframe for MPA operations, any money saved from “commonality” will likely be lost through increased fuel burn. Not to mention basic operational unsuitability. And what is commonality anyway? A400M may be common to a fleet of 174 aircraft around the world but a 737 is common to hundreds if not thousands. Then there is the problem of not understanding what commonality should really be about, I have lost count of the number of AFV programmes that have failed because they tried to use the same base platform for too many roles (CVR-T and FRES-SV get the balance about right) and in the process absorb enormous amounts of R&D funding. Custom platforms and systems can actually be much easier and thus cheaper to develop. At the same time the most useful commonality is not in the shape of the platform but of the things inside it, engine, transmission, air conditioning, CBRN equipment etc.

The time risk; it all too tempting to say that we should buy x because it has commonality with y. The problem is that x and y may actually be 30 year old designs that are starting to run into obsolescence issues and offer significantly less capability than the uncommon z. Take RARDEN as an example, it can trace its origins well into the early 60s and was basically obsolete when being put in new build Warriors, it may be/have been common but its also rubbish by today’s standards. If you are not careful this can happen within one production run, buying something that is new in one decade but obsolete in two decades time. An obsession with commonality can negatively impact technological currency.

Things which aren’t really common at all; you actually provide a great example of this with your gun example. Only the 30mm Bushmaster and the 40mm CTA can really be regarded as similar. The RARDEN is being phased out in favour of the 40mm CTA (in an example of commonality as it’s going into Warrior and Scout) so is not relevant anyway. The other two weapons, though having the same calibre on the face of it are actually very different guns, the Apache gun for example having a very low velocity whilst the Mauser is designed for an extremely high initial RoF.

Finally, that is not to say there is not areas where commonality can/should be achieved but currently isn’t. The first example that comes to mind is airborne sensor turrets, the US is managing it and it seems ridiculous that MoD can’t. With that said, considerable progress has been made, CAMM is an obvious example but for anyone with a knowledge of UK SAM development going back to the 1950s it is hardly surprising- there has always been considerable cross-pollination and innumerable proposals, suggestions and opportunities for commonality in this field. The helicopter mess, a consequence of inter-service intransigence going back (again) to the 1960s also seems to finally be sorting itself out with the decision to focus on just Merlin, Wildcat and Apache having seemingly been taken (the suggestion being that Puma will whither on the vine). In short, progress is being made but we must be careful not to let the concept cloud out much more important judgements.

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 5, 2014 12:30 pm

Don’t the Paras start off training with the rest of the Army’s infantry, TD? It’s the RAF and RM who insist on doing everything entirely separately.

On Tomahawk and Stormshadow; the Americans have slashed their 2015 order for TLAM from about a thousand to only 100, and there is no planned funding for more Tomahawk beyond that.

The US are counting on the development of an extende-range land attack missile, with larger payload, to replace Tomahawk. This may well finally kill off the torpedo-tube-launched Tomahawk that the Americans no longer use, and which only remained in production to satisfy the needs of a handful of allies – British, Italian I think, ???.

The new bigger American missile will undoubtedly be more expensive than the outgoing one; might this lead to the UK seeking commonality around the Anglo-French Scalp/Stormshadow for the Navy and RAF?

Derek
Derek
March 5, 2014 12:33 pm

TD,

Agreed, my sense is that with a few relatively minor exceptions the UK has achieved about as much commonality as is really practical- the process having been considerably speeded up by the savage 2010 cuts. The MoD in its current form may have come into existence in 1964 but so long are equipment life-cycles from conception to OSD the task of creating more joint procurement was always going to take decades. Take Sea Dart, it may be a late 1960s design of 1970s production but fulfils a requirement and concept initially identified and pursued in the early 1950s- thats 60 years ago. Force structure and service responsibility decisions taken in relation to the helicopter force in the 60s are the reason we have Puma, Warrior comes from an MICV requirement also first drafted in the 60s, etc, etc

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 5, 2014 12:37 pm

One way of achieving significant commonality would be to give the Army Type-26 frigates (olive drab or army brown of course) instead of the multitude of vehicles which they currently use.

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 5, 2014 12:48 pm

You give the 4 tonners to the RAF to replace Tornado, TD.

Royal Navy would get their own frigates (boring grey of course).

Observer
Observer
March 5, 2014 1:16 pm

Can’t say much on equipment, but infantry commonality is something I did come across a bit as I got transferred into 3 different “types” of units. For the normal “line” infantry, their training is pretty standard, but then we get to nitty gritty stuff which throws everything haywire.

There is the PDF (something like your territorial army… more or less) who are trained for urban combat and their equipment reflects it with some shotguns (shotguns?!! I never even touched one of those in my entire army life!) and round corner firing modules (video screens), which most other branches will never get a chance to touch.

Then there is the Guardsmen, something like your RM, trained for heliborne and beach assaults where they train with boats and ships and helicopters and air guidance which the PDF will never touch and their tactics and equipment are very different too, more long ranged and focused on mobility than static defence.

Then there is the armoured infantry, whose training is more vehicle focused and their tactics are more suited to smaller blocs of infantrymen than the more infantry heavy tactics of the other branches, and they call fire less from artillery and airstrikes than simply turning their heads and yelling at the tank commander to “Put a round there!!”

3 different sub-branches. All infantry, massively different tactics and equipment. Lowering their training to the lowest common denominator isn’t going to work, they will not be able to leverage their best strengths and tactics that work in one environment can kill you in another, and “teach them all of it” is simply going to confuse them in the field when one section uses the “MOUT” playbook because they saw some buildings while another uses the “Marine” playbook and a third uses the “Standard infantry” playbook. Specialization keeps everyone on the same page. More or less.

PS: In an ironic note, and some thread cross pollination from the shore patrol thread, our RPs are the ones doing base defence.

Tom
Tom
March 5, 2014 1:23 pm

TD – “…4 sets of light infantry training; RAF Regiment, RM, Para and Army…”

Minor point of order – Para Regt recruits go through the same Basic Infantry Course as the rest of the Infantry, just with 2 weeks added one for P Coy. The Guards also have a 2 week enhanced drill course.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that despite the longer course and more intense training, it cost the Royal Marines less to take a recruit to a trained Marine, than it did for the Army to take a recruit to a trained Infantry soldier. This was largely attributed to pre-screening and a better approach to trying to reduce drop-outs.

Given the Army’s attitude to the RAF Regiment, I suspect that Trainee Gunner retention would suffer if they were mixed in with the infantry.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 5, 2014 1:48 pm

Hi Observer,

in a mainly conscripted army you will have to go for specialisation earler.

Then hou get these units come together for training, occasionally, for another 10-15 years, and then they become general reserve… And your assignment mightbeinfluencex by your civilian expert skills byasmuch as the training recei exc when yhou werearound 20
…BTW, which tablet works when ths screen hots up from sunrays? Apologies for the typing!

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
March 5, 2014 1:53 pm

In terms of commonality of training, I would very much like to see HMAF adopt the USMC approach “every man a rifleman”…with our reduced numbers, I believe there are good grounds to give all recruits (all three services, and those destined for Officer Training alongside those who are not) basic training including skill at arms in “purple” units…and then keep those skills up subsequently…before moving on to increasingly specialist training in their chosen service and branch of service…with so few in uniform, they all need to know how to shoot straight if needs be and understand that they might need to at some point. Not least because the last time our Army was this small, it was generally assumed that if necessary the RN formed Naval Brigades and went ashore, often with additional artillery…

Not, you understand, suggesting a direct parallel so much as an effort to overcome inter-service hostility and rebuild the bulldog spirit that distinguished our forbears in these lean and challenging times…

GNB

x
x
March 5, 2014 2:11 pm

I think the Army should adopt the RN drill manual. All that stamping and arm waving is a bit OTT.

Joe B
Joe B
March 5, 2014 2:31 pm

Derek, i think you have got this whole thing out of proportion. People are not talking (or at least shouldn’t be talking) about using the same item for all manner of different roles but simply that the same companies should be used for the same things. E.g. Rolls Royce should be used for all engines with minimum different types. Airbus should be used for as many types of non combat airplanes, Augusta Westland should be used for as many types of helicopters as possible etc etc This way you get a very good compromise from commonality with cost

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 5, 2014 2:36 pm

Going about it in that way will create lasting monopolies thatthen have the Services, or their Proc function, by the curlies?

Topman
Topman
March 5, 2014 2:43 pm

@ Joe B

Only problem with that is they end up with a monopoly, and we know what people think of Big and Expensive on here ;)

Derek
Derek
March 5, 2014 2:45 pm

Joe B,

No, you have got it the wrong way round. Read the threads here, especially the likes of the MPA threads with endless suggestions for platform commonality.

monkey
monkey
March 5, 2014 3:11 pm

Observer
The USMC has an all arms service (they man their own ships to some extent) ,fight their own tanks and APC’s , fly their own aircraft (all their officers/pilots go through a 26 week basic school including how to fight like their infantry colleagues which gives their pilots a feeling of respect for the grunts on the ground.)
If all our recruits were to go through the same basic infantry mans course this would enhance cross service respect .The specializations can be added on as required to whichever service they are selected for but with all taking regular refreshers to reinforce the knowledge of just who all the services are their to support , the boots on the ground .

Dunservin
Dunservin
March 5, 2014 3:29 pm

@GNB

“In terms of commonality of training, I would very much like to see HMAF adopt the USMC approach “every man a rifleman”…with our reduced numbers, I believe there are good grounds to give all recruits (all three services, and those destined for Officer Training alongside those who are not) basic training including skill at arms in “purple” units…and then keep those skills up subsequently…

As a rule, USMC personnel don’t man ships; US Navy sailors do. As in the RN and any other navy I can think of, they are ‘sailors first’ (one hand for the ship and one for yourself), not ‘riflemen’.

That’s not to say some small arms training isn’t already taken into account. Basic training for a Royal Navy sailor lasts 10 weeks (http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/The-Fleet/Shore-Establishments/HMS-Raleigh/Initial-Naval-Training-Ratings) and comprises the following:

They will learn some basic skills, such as self discipline, teamwork and overcoming problems. In addition, they will be taught how to fire a SA80 assault rifle and other skills required of all sailors. Recruits are given a taste of how to operate as a team tackling floods and fires at sea and they will also have to pass a first aid course. Fitness is crucial and a progressive regime will test individuals’ ability to, climb High Ropes and complete the assault and obstacle courses…

He or she will then undertake combinations of Part II specialist training (e.g. above water warfare (Weapons, Radar, Sonar, CIS, Minewarfare, Diver, etc.), underwater warfare, marine engineer, weapons engineer, logs, hydrographer, etc. plus surface flotilla, submariner, FAA, etc. derivatives thereof) lasting several months before joining their first ship or unit.

An infantryman’s basic training lasts 26 weeks (https://www.army.mod.uk/infantry/regiments/26910.aspx) after which they join their first unit:

Basic Phase 1 (Weeks 1-6). The first six weeks are very much an introductory phase to the Infantry. Covering a multitude of subjects such as Values & Standards, Physical Training, Skill at Arms lessons, drill and Fieldcraft. This a busy phase where recruits will remain in barracks and will have a lot to learn. However, parents day on week four is a chance for them to show off and have a night off. The phase ends with the recruits receiving their berets, cap badge and a long weekend.

Basic Phase 2 (Weeks 7-12). This phase sees the final Intro Exercise, the confirmation all fieldcraft tuition and the introduction to section attacks. There is a real emphasis on shooting which culminates in the annual shooting test. Recruits also get away for a week of adventure training.

Basic Phase 3 (Weeks 13-19). During this phase, the training focuses teaching the recruits infantry skills. This is based around three Tactical exercises, an Urban skills day and a week long LMG camp in Altcar, near Liverpool. At the end of this phase, recruits receive a regimental tie as a mark of achievement for completing all the tactical exercises.

Basic Phase 4 (Weeks 20-26). During this phase, the training focuses on confirmation of training received. This comes in the form of Final Exercise and Live Firing Battle camp. There is also a Battlefield tour to Belgium and of course, the Pass out parade..

Thousands of man-weeks are already invested in basic training for HMAF personnel each year and there is always pressure to include more. Where the RN is concerned, trained manpower has been pared to the bone already owing to lean manning and there is currently significant gapping of billets. Any additions to training of any type (basic, leadership, professional advancement courses, specialist courses, continuation training, pre-joining training – which can last over a year – etc.) add time and cost to the pipeline and exacerbate the situation. This is why any proposed additions to training curricula must be accompanied by compensating reductions elsewhere.

Noting that only six weeks is available for a sailor’s basic training, which bits of the ‘rifleman’s’ basic curriculum would you incorporate in the sailor’s basic curriculum and which bits of the sailor’s basic curriculum would you sacrifice as a compensating reduction?

IXION
March 5, 2014 3:32 pm

Whilst not getting too silly…

Commonality is to a degree about compromise.

For the sake of accepting an MPA that might be a bit big, it shares a basic aircraft with a tanker and a transport, and poss an AWACS. The transport suffers in say rough field performance, the tanker in payload a bit.. etc….

The point is overall airframe costs come down, and maintenance costs reduced. General non roll specific upgrades get cheaper etc.

One crushingly stupid example is why are we using 3 fleets of heavy trucks MAN those flash offroad
tankers and IVECO on lease?

Frankly any of the current crop of 8 x 8 trucks could manage all that OK. Not perhaps quite as well in all roles but well enough in reality. Then we have one fleet, one set of spares, one training regime for mechanics, and the more you order the cheaper the unit price.

We could without getting silly get more bang per buck…

Dunservin
Dunservin
March 5, 2014 3:35 pm

Amend “six weeks” in final para of my previous to read “10 weeks”.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
March 5, 2014 3:48 pm

“Thinking and working jointly, am sure you can see that the last decade of operations have required joint working, just joint between the RAF and Army.”

And then you wonder why people suspect you of an anti-RN bias. Let’s see if you can make the connection between the following :

3Cdo Bde HQ, 40Cdo, 42Cdo, 45Cdo, 800NAS/NSW (and 1F and 3AC sqns), 845NAS, 846NAS, 847NAS, 849NAS, 854NAS, 857NAS. 1710NAS, Fleet Diving Sqns (N&S), Naval Medical Service and others.

While I’m in no way suggesting that the RN/RM have contributed to the same scale as the army and probably the RAF, it is disingenuous in the extreme to suggest that Herrick (or indeed TELIC) has been “just” Army & RAF. From what is the smallest of the services that’s a fair contribution while continuing to deliver most of the rest of tasking.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
March 5, 2014 4:11 pm

“Thinking and working jointly, am sure you can see that the last decade of operations have required joint working, just joint between the RAF and Army.”

And then you wonder why people suspect you of an anti-RN bias. Let’s see if you can guess what these units have in common :

HQ3Cdo Bde, 40Cdo, 42Cdo, 45Cdo, 800NAS/NSW (and elements of 1F and 3AC sqns), 845NAS, 846NAS, 847 NAS, 849NAS, 854NAS, 857NAS, 1710NAS, Fleet Diving Sqn (N&S), Naval Medical service and others.

While I’d never suggest that the RN/RM have made an equivalent contribution to the army and probably the RAF , it is disingenuous in the extreme to suggest that Herrick (and Telic for that matter) have been joint in an army/RAF fashion only. Given that the RN is the smallest of the services, making a significant contribution to those ops while (mostly) maintaining maritime tasking is no mean feat.

TAS
TAS
March 5, 2014 4:38 pm

TD, whatever the ‘Caribbean recruitment and retention’ initiative is, do tell more – consider me an early volunteer. And yes, I will bring up RAF hotel bills as often as possible. What exactly was wrong with an air conditioned tent?

Little that operates exclusively in the maritime domain needs to be – what’s the word, the opposite of ‘marinised’, ‘landified’? – landified. In any event the maritime component as structured by the UK is already enabled for operations in the littoral. We have the Joint enablers to deliver the land component from the sea – amphibious shipping, Strat RORO, 17 P&M, etc – albeit a bare minmum.

Likewise little in the land domain needs to be marinised. Armoured vehicles are not expected to fight on the foreshore – once delivered across the beachhead so long as the logistics chain is sufficiently agile it will spur on and do whatever it needs to do. We don’t need swimming tanks or floating artillery. However, given the sheer size of the Army and the difficulties in training up the amphibious and air assault infantry, it does unfortunately make sense to have specialist troops and the Paras and RM fit the bill. Apart from the rifle and the clothing they have little equipment in common – RM boats as a starter for ten – so what’s to be gained by merging basic training if the RM already does it more efficiently? Maybe the Paras should follow the RM model instead – make Colchester a separate recruiting and training facility? I’m just chucking ideas out – please everyone don’t lose the plot with detailed challenges to these suggestions.

The unifying element is the air component. From strategic to tactical strike (cruise missiles and air power) to ISTAR, UAVs, troop lift and extraction, the use of air power is the most fractured and incoherent of them all. I say that with no irony, and it seems to me to be why the Army and RN continue to maintain their own air arms because the central Service seems maddeningly distracted. Watchkeeper is a great example – why on earth we have both that and Reaper I do not know.

Jointery should be the air component commander’s everyday watchword. Can my forces conduct shore-to-sea and vice-versa troop movements and supply? Can my aircraft operate off a maritime deck? Can my aircraft lift and move the latest generation of Army vehicles and their support equipment? Can I guarantee an air carge delivery sevice to rough field airstrips? What do I do when we are asked to go to a part of the world outside land-based air cover? How do I deliver ISTAR in these places – land launched, maritime launched, rotary, VTOL, strategic? How does all this fit in with the other two Services? In my opinion the air component commander is ALWAYS the supporting commander, and the other two will almost always be the supported commander. What we have is an air component configured for Afghanistan operations that has lost all sense of true Joint operations and needs to relearn.

How do we do that? Sadly I think by re-merging the FAA and AAC with the RAF into a single air command and enforcing the deployment of routine personnel to forward locations like FOBs and ships. When the embarked/forward aircrew and engineers start wearing light blue, do a tour at sea/in the bush and take back the lessons of operating in a confined space with limited support, the RAF will grow and evolve into a leaner, more effective deployable machine. Not everything will go to sea or into a mud puddle, but lots of it will and this will grow more senior RAF officers into the higher echelons who will think more Jointly. The RAF should be the ones screaming for carrier air power, not arguing themselves into a silly corner pretending they can win wars single-handedly. It didn’t work in WW2 when Bomber Harris was proved wrong, and it didn’t work in 1982 when they re-checked the position of Australia. It worked in Libya at horrendous cost. They need to take charge of all air operations – or, frankly, go back to guarding the northern approaches against Bears and leave the Jointery alone.

x
x
March 5, 2014 4:47 pm

Is it my imagination, addled as it is, but I am right in thinking that appears that more joint (purple) courses (schools and establishments) are run by the RAF than the other two?

TAS
TAS
March 5, 2014 4:47 pm

TD, I’m not in the habit but if it helps – ;-)

Simon257
Simon257
March 5, 2014 5:02 pm

TD
The Oshkosh trucks are specialist designed trucks. You won’t get a Civvie Low Loader going to the places, we would expect a HET to go. HET’s are designed to go mile after mile over rough terrain. Normal low loaders are not. They may well drive a mile or so down a rough track but they won’t go cross country. You need specialist Vehicles to do specific specialist jobs.

Replacing the Foden’s, Leyland’s and DAFs, makes sense, MAN have a huge Dealer/workshop Network in the UK. I mean by this the Civvie Trucks which have been painted green like the Leyland’s DROP or the Civvie Tractor Units all the services make use of. Most of the the trucks the MOD have got to be over twenty years old. Spare parts must be an issue and the Fuel bill for running this old kit is must be eye watering. Their is no need to be running 10 year old wagons. The older they get the more expensive they are to run. Someone at the MOD needs to go and have a chat with the Fleet Managers at Tesco’s and Stobarts. They all use 5 year lease deals, with dealership support.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
March 5, 2014 5:02 pm

TD

Then I would suggest that your choice of words was poor.

“Thinking and working jointly, am sure you can see that the last decade of operations have required joint working, just joint between the RAF and Army.”

I’d say that’s pretty definitive.

It’s not outrage or indignation, nor did I suggest you had belittled the RN contribution. You merely omitted it, which is par for the course for your average journo – would perhaps have expected more from you, because as you say, you’ve written about it.

Tom
Tom
March 5, 2014 5:11 pm

TD – the Army can’t even get all of their non-infantry recruits training at one site.

Part of the issue is that the UK does not have the space to devote to one single massive recruit training base, without displacing other units that might make use of the area more effectively.

Basic training does not require alot of space or specialised infrastructure per recruit. Parade Square, a few classrooms, gym, basic range and some space for basic field exercises. Nothing fancy.

Our larger bases that could realistically handle the numbers are usually busy with forces that actually need the space.

Couple of other arguments against single recruit training base:

– All of the services have different operational and Phase II training drumbeats. Managing their own basic training allows them to time and manage training cycles more effectively, reducing wasted training time.

– Indoctrination – Its not just about the history lessons, its about being on a RAF/RN/Army base, surround by people wearing the same uniform as you are. Also reduces the temptation for the other services to tempt recruits over to their service.

I realise that part of the desire for combined recruit training is to try and reduce the us and them culture, but I feel that this done better by combined training at later stages, co-basing of operation units and cross-posting.

The comparison with the USMC is abit false IMO. The USMC defies itself as an elite, different to the other US Armed services. You can’t do the same with the entire British Armed forces because who they compare and contrast themselves with?

Tom
Tom
March 5, 2014 5:18 pm

TD “I always wondered why the assault squadrons were not RN manned, didnt the USN operate the riverine stuff in Vietnam?”

From I remember reading it was because the Navy had to desire to handle the manning post WWII, so the rationale was that if it was under the RM umbrella then it would be maintained properly because it was directly part of RM operations.

monkey
monkey
March 5, 2014 6:14 pm

Tom
The USMC total man power is 195,000 about the same as the British Armed Forces as a whole so it is not inconceivable we could operate similarly with us fully manning the Naval aspect with all elements by “Per Mare, Per Terram, Per Aere” – “By Sea, By Land, By Air” under one chain of command not three.
“The USMC defines itself as an elite, different to the other US Armed services.”
I think members of the British Armed Forces would like to define themselves as the Best in the World , if that’s not elitist then what is?

Derek
Derek
March 5, 2014 6:21 pm

TD,

The non AFV part of the vehicle fleet is great example of where commonality can go too far. Diamond plated high-end trucks like the MAN SX or Oshkosh HEMTT cost a fortune to buy compared to civilian models painted green (not just to buy)- so why buy all MAN-SX when a portion of the fleet will probably never leave tarmac?

Civilian vehicles are also common with thousands of other vehicles and using things like PFIs means that you can tap into that rather than into commonality with a bespoke defence fleet.

Finally, it underscores the life-cycle problem. Why spend the money to replace something that still works simply to achieve “commonality”? Its just wasteful.

TAS
TAS
March 5, 2014 6:28 pm

TD, I suggested it a few years back in my TD infancy. I stood by it then and I stand by it now – wear dark blue sail ships, wear light blue fly aeroplanes and wear green if you live in holes. The opponents aren’t just dark blue but all three. The Army doesn’t want to give up the AAC any more than the RN wants to surrender the RM and FAA. But on the opposite side, there’s no interest from the RAF in taking on those capabilities either. I think it’s the fast-jet bias at the top end that is the greatest issue.

x, I agree that there are many Joint courses run by the RAF but talking the talk is very different to walking it. I am personally slated to attend three of those courses this year. I suspect I will have some fun when a moustache tries to explain Jointery to me.

x
x
March 5, 2014 6:30 pm

The Royal Marines aren’t a separate service so the LC are actually RM manned.

x
x
March 5, 2014 6:31 pm

The Royal Marines are not a separate service so the LC are actually RN manned……………….

x
x
March 5, 2014 6:39 pm

TAS said “x, I agree that there are many Joint courses run by the RAF but talking the talk is very different to walking it. I am personally slated to attend three of those courses this year. I suspect I will have some fun when a moustache tries to explain Jointery to me.”

Um. So I am right in thinking that the RAF have cornered jointary? So how much RAF infrastructure then is directed to that end?How much of the RAF’s business is training the other services in what I should imagine mostly is support functions?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
March 5, 2014 6:41 pm

‘The opponents aren’t just dark blue but all three’

And will forever be the case, unfortunately.

‘The Royal Marines are not a separate service so the LC are actually RN manned……………….’

So we spend all that money training them to be commando’s for 32 weeks and then stick them in a wheel house of an LC. (I suppose it makes sense to someone)

x
x
March 5, 2014 6:55 pm

DavidNiven said “So we spend all that money training them to be commando’s for 32 weeks and then stick them in a wheel house of an LC. (I suppose it makes sense to someone)”

I am struggling to understand why it would not make sense. Landing craft are vehicles used by Royal Marines so surely Royal Marines should man them?

Back in the olden days the Army experimented with getting the RTR to drive APCs for the infantry it didn’t work.

Constantly fascinated by how many here decide the appropriateness of “ownership” of a class vehicle by type and not function.

Chris
Editor
Chris
March 5, 2014 7:02 pm

TD,

In 2002-03 there was a strategic attempt by the Kevins to burgle WATCHKEEPER from the Army. We had the Main Gate Business Case coming up, every effing DLOD had its’ plan in almost infinite detail, I had to upgrade my CHOTS laptop to one with a bigger hard drive as there were about a gazillion documents. By then, I’d increased my staff to 5 merely to cope with the paperwork of a £850 million procurement. And I represented only the end user, not the rather brilliant Tactical UAV IPT who worked like Trojans.

The Kevins tried one on at a Defence Board, and I was summoned to ACGS’ office. They wanted to convert 3 RAF Regiment Squadrons to the establishment of an RA Regiment, and operate WATCHKEEPER on behalf of the Joint Force.

ACGS was incandescent with rage. He and I agreed that you just can’t trust the fuckers to ever be there on time when OPFOR is pressing in (well, he proposed and I agreed, because he was a Major General with promotion potential, and I was an SO1 with him as my 3rd Reporting Officer).

Thereafter, literally every document had a section, paragraph, annex or whatever shoe-horned in (whether it needed it or not) finding some techno-creative reason why the foot borne Kevins were inappropriate for the role. And in fairness, I honestly believe that to be the case.

We won, but it was not Jointery in action.

Dunservin
Dunservin
March 5, 2014 7:04 pm

@DavidNiven

‘The Royal Marines are not a separate service so the LC are actually RN manned……………….’

“So we spend all that money training them to be commando’s for 32 weeks and then stick them in a wheel house of an LC. (I suppose it makes sense to someone)”

Some of them have even been known to paddle their own canoes. ;-)

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
March 5, 2014 7:04 pm

I am struggling to understand why it would not make sense. Landing craft are vehicles used by Royal Marines so surely Royal Marines should man them?

Why? they are light infantry not sailors how many marines are tied up maintaining and operating LC’s after all the infantry specific training they have recieved? What is the cost difference between training a marine and a non specialist sailor? ( non specialist is the wrong word but I don’t know what the standard rating trade stream is called, sorry)

This is not specific to the marines there are a few trades in the other services that seem to do the same things.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
March 5, 2014 7:10 pm

The thread has wandered from different services using common equipment, to unify the personnel in the services.

The Canadians unified their services in 1968 all wearing the same uniform and having the same rank names etc, but, although still unified, they reverted in name and uniform to separate identities.

What would be interesting is to know if since unification there was any more commonality of equipment than before.

Whilst i am agnostic on the unification issue, it seems to me as the absolute numbers decline combining some of the professional and specialist elements to provide wider career opportunities may become essential.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
March 5, 2014 7:15 pm

Some of them have even been known to paddle their own canoes. ;-)
Is that a euphemism? ;-)

I understand the difference of a raid in canoes, where the mission requires them to get out of the canoes and use their skills on land to complete the mission, it’s just that the marines crewing the LC’s will always stay with the vessel and then I see no reason to train them to be commando’s to fulfill the role.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 5, 2014 7:20 pm

‘David Niven

LCs are still royal marines, they do extra courses and a Corporal commands an LCVP and a Colour Sergeant an LCU. Given the nature of their work and understanding of amphibious operations combined with their combat training it is a real toss up whether it would be cheaper to train a “Sailor” in the required skills.
Our equivalent ranks of PO and CPO may have driven a rhib but they have no ore navigational skills required for landing craft than the Cpl or Csgt combined with no combat training. So we would either have to send them on both an infantry skills/amphib course or use a Junior Officer who has cost lots to train and would still need to go on an infantry/amphib course.

To summarise there is no ready made pool of suitably skilled manpower within the RN to do the job so we are as well keeping LCs. The engineers are matelots :)

x
x
March 5, 2014 7:38 pm

@ TD

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Marines_Armoured_Support_Group

Though Warthogs aren’t an easy drive the Army could have used RLC drivers if it had them to spare. There is a difference between following a track in vehicle designed for crossing unsurfaced ground and armoured warfare.

You seem to have some block when it comes to vehicles being “owned” by their users; you always the “drivers” separated from the “passengers”. Left to you ships would have the RN would doing the navigation and look after the engines, the Army manning the weapons, and the RAF flying the helicopter. You like jointery across services but also seem like to division within the services themselves.

monkey
monkey
March 5, 2014 7:56 pm

With regards to our road transport fleet (with the emphasis on road) how much of our ‘cargo’ transport requirements are handled by service personnel/lorries and how much by civilian contractors? If more could be shifted to civilian contractors for everything that does not go bang i.e. security could we slowly downsize our existing transport fleet as it wears out and only replace specialist military vehicles. In the event of a shooting war existing civilian vehicles can be commandeered and then painted green (Eddie Stobart trucks are already partly green and their staff like uniforms all ready hah hah)
What kind of cost savings could be made by not replacing the existing fleet of road cargo lorries as they wear out and using commercial companies who would have little say in the event of TSHTF (The S**T Hitting The Fan) of having their fleets taken over by the military i.e. IOU £1000m if we win . Mrs Jones at Tescos will not mind not being able to pick up her kumquats if her sons life is on the line.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 5, 2014 8:16 pm

@TD

The compelling case for RM doing it is that there is no suitably qualified RN pool of personnel to simply fling in. n An ORC is a bit different as it is effectively an offshore power boat and a Coxn could probably be found but hovercraft, LCVPs and LCUs need LC courses. Now we take a 32 week trained Commando and get them to do it, they have to do a course or we take RN personnel and they will still have to do a course but.
A Csgt equivalent is a CPO and an RN CPO will have had a heck of a lot of money invested in him in terms of courses, be in Seaman Spec courses, AWW courses, AWT courses throughout his career so why would I want to then send him on another course and waste him driving an LCU?
Even a LH although we would probably use a PO for an LCVP has had an awful lot of time and money spent on their Professional courses and we would still have to send them on a course to learn how to navigate/drive as well as a combat type course and an amphib ops course.

Peter Elliott
March 5, 2014 8:17 pm

@TD

The modern matelot is surly more of an electronic gadget wizard than a cold eyed dealer of death. Would we really want to throw them into contested green water ops?

Surely when raiding up river every man needs to be able to fight hard and well? The craft could easily end up getting boarded or at the very least ambushed and shot up.

So trained fighting men seem like the right choice for the topside crew.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
March 5, 2014 8:21 pm

Back onto topic, is there a standard generator used by all 3 services such as the FEPS? or do each service specify and purchase their individual versions?

Is it items such as these that need to be common if they are not already?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
March 5, 2014 8:28 pm

;-)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 5, 2014 8:35 pm

@David Niven

Far from no cost difference, an RN CPO will almost definitely have had more money spent on him going on Professional courses through his career than a RM Csgt.
Take an AWT (or ops room chief) he will have been on at least 2 leadership and promotion courses. He will have done a Professional course upon promotion to LH, another on promotion to PO and another on promotion to CPO. When you add in the Pre Joining Training when going from shore to sea or moving to a ship with a different command system and things like Divisional Officers Course and other add ons as he gains responsibilities he will have spent in excess of 2 years on training courses. Yet he would still have to go and do more courses before he could be a Coxn.

x
x
March 5, 2014 8:36 pm

@ TD

Um. No. Those vehicles were used in convoys mostly. I should hope the RLC imparts some form of tactical training to its soldiers. Or do they expect loggies just to improvise when ambushed?

Consider too,

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7f/EPLS_Cargo_Transport_Vehicles_in_Combat_Logistic_Patrol_%28CLP%29_in_Afghanistan_MOD_45153716.jpg/1024px-EPLS_Cargo_Transport_Vehicles_in_Combat_Logistic_Patrol_%28CLP%29_in_Afghanistan_MOD_45153716.jpg

has more in common handling wise with a MRAP than this,

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/be/MCV-80.jpg/1024px-MCV-80.jpg

the latter being design to be not only highly maneuverable off road but easy to drive because its role is very dynamic.

I didn’t know Warthog was hard to drive. Seems pretty straightforward to me from what I have seen. But then again I have driven large tractors, 4x4s off road, and other oddities so perhaps I am not the best judge?

Further considering again most of the time it was toddling up and down tracks (so not off road) strictly.

In my experience good drivers of big plant seem to be able to transfer from one piece of machinery to another with ease.

I do see why a RLC driver shouldn’t be able to drive Warthog or Mastiff. RAMC (and RN) send their personnel on foot patrols what is the difference?

Using a pool of drivers in support of foot borne campaign isn’t much of an argument for a similar approach in armoured warfare. Or indeed any similar case, say a ship’s flight, AH, etc. etc. We should be looking at aligning vehicle ownership to the tasking organization not looking for reasons to do otherwise. To put a break or (potential) fault in the flow of command and control.

x
x
March 5, 2014 8:38 pm

@ APATS re CPO

Of course he will be expensive he will be running the RN………..

McZ
McZ
March 5, 2014 8:54 pm

“The Royal Navy Tomahawk cruise missile, another fantastic capability, accepting the differences between Storm Shadow and Tomahawk, why can we only deliver this weapon from a very small number of submarines?”

The US is currently developing the JASSM-ER into somewhat of a Tomahawk-replacement. VLS has been tested, there are plans to go to a submarine in 2015. Mix LRASM into the equation, and you have a very compelling family of missiles. JASSM costs $0.7m per missile, JASSM-ER around $1.4m. Additionally, there is the planned Cruise Missile XR, a heavier replacement for TACTOM, also based in its proposed form on JASSM. Unit cost are targeted at $3m.

I guess, real commonality doesn’t ends when it comes to common tasks. CAMM is also enabled to kill boats by tweaks in the software. Not sure if a CAMM-shot at a small vessel is the cheapest solution, but if that is what you actually have when the helicopter is underway, I guess it’s better than losing. And if CAMM can be fired from aircrafts, why not launching a Wildcat with 8 CAMM underwing to enlarge range?

I guess, the more we experiment with software-driven solutions, the more commonality we will get.

Chris
Editor
Chris
March 5, 2014 9:16 pm

Re drivers.

I used to get all brand new drivers in my Troop and later Squadron to become my driver on first being posted in. Totally the opposite among my officer colleagues, who always wanted experienced drivers.

My reason was simple, I wanted to train them personally in my way of reading terrain, using shadow, masking, differential speed, ground selection and so on. I used to take them out on runs or on mountain bikes when we had track mileage restrictions imposed.

I wouldn’t trust them until I trained them. Then they could go to another Troop.

I wouldn’t trust an RLC driver to drive my CVR(T), not his fault, but because he hadn’t the training in tactical driving. In a CVR(T), Drives has responsibility for 3 lives, so he should be competent. The Commander and Gunner don’t have time to tell Drives minute details of left a bit, right a bit, speed up, slow down. A good Drives gets told by his vehicle commander where the next tactical stopping point is (probably around 800 metres in open ground), then chooses the best route for himself. And to do that, he needs to be properly trained.

x
x
March 5, 2014 9:27 pm

@ Red Trousers

Yes. But the point is would trust a RLC driver in a MRAP trolling between a logistics hub and PB or driving a platoon to a village?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 5, 2014 9:52 pm

x, neither. But if that’s all you’ve got to work with, you make do.

I certainly would not trust some re-purposed Andrew Erk, nor a RAF Regiment Kevin. Because after they’d fucked it up and all 3 of you were on your feet having had the wagon shot away, they’d be cod all use in pressing home the original mission. The mission does not go away if you lose your wagon, that’s only a temporary inconvenience.

x
x
March 5, 2014 10:39 pm

@ RT

Yes but as I said above how a vehicle is used in Afghanistan against an enemy who’s most ubiquitous vehicle is a Chinese built moped then the driver isn’t that important. (As long as they are competent in driving and have the requisite tactical training)

But as I said even further back up the page specialist tasks (like driving little tanks back to the Channel at break neck speed) require specialists who belong to the same organisation.

x
x
March 5, 2014 10:51 pm

@ TD

So you are agree with me then that a specialist role needs to be performed specialists (plus belonging to the same organisation, service etc.) ?

So as I said above the Army tried getting the RTR to drive APCs and it didn’t work in the intended role.

Good.

x
x
March 5, 2014 11:32 pm

Good grief.

Dunservin
Dunservin
March 6, 2014 12:15 am

@TD

“Wonder how much difference there is the weeks 1-12 for all three services?

First aid
NBC
Values and Standards
Discipline and lovely drill
Skill at arms
Basic fieldcraft
Phys
A spot of history, personal finance and a few other bits and pieces.

Realistically, how much difference between the RAF, RN and Army?

10%, 20%, 50%…”

Fair question. There is no easy answer but the differences are probably greater than you think. Commonality varies dramatically because there are service-specific quirks in all manner of seemingly ‘common’ subjects owing to the widely differing environments involved.

Once you’d taught the genuinely common bits while taking pains to avoid any potentially confusing service-specific stuff, a similar amount of time would probably be needed to go over the same ground again to addback the extra bits and explain how everything applies in the context of an individual’s own service. Can you imagine a keen young sailor asking an Army instructor, “Who will be responsible for this on board my ship and how will it affect me differently when I am closed up in defence watches or at action stations?”. Army instructor: “Erm, watches? Stations?”

First Aid – Would Army trainees need to know the treatment for decompression sickness or the contents of shipboard First Aid lockers and where they are located, or how to extract a casualty from a confined space using a Neil Robertson stretcher and jury-rigged tackles (blocks and pulleys)?

NBC – Would RAF trainees need to be taught the range of ship’s location markings, section bases, power generation and distribution, fuel and water services, adjacent compartment hazards, NBCD watertight and gastight integrity options for specific doors, hatches, ventilators and ACUs (to recirc or not to recirc?) from State 3 Condition X-Ray to State 1 Condition Zulu Alfa, or how a warship’s citadel works, the importance of the pre-wetting system, or the procedures involved in entering and exiting via a cleansing station? Again, imagine a keen young sailor asking an RAF instructor ” But what do I do if I lose firemain pressure for the eductors, all I have left are softwood wedges instead of hardwood wedges for shoring, and the 24 volt emergency supplies don’t kick in when the main TG cuts out?” RAF instructor: “I’d probably call room service.”

Values and Standards – Nelson’s ‘all of one company’ ethos epitomises RN values and standards because everyone from the Captain to the Junior Assistant Cook is literally in the same boat facing the same hazards. The Army has its Band of Brothers (borrowed from Nelson – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson%27s_Band_of_Brothers) and regimental mystique but what is the RAF equivalent?

Discipline and Drill – The RN’s Articles of War, first issued in 1663, were incorporated into the Naval Discipline Act. They were superseded by the tri-service Armed Forces Act as recently as 2006 so commonality is being achieved on this front at least although I believe there are still some service-specific procedures covering summary action (difficult for an SSBN to hand over an offender to CIVPOL in the middle of a 90 day patrol). However, the RN divisional system, superior to any other, is unique and naval ceremonial is an art in itself: flag hoists, hailing boats, marks of respect when afloat, saluting the quarterdeck, morning and evening colours/sunset, etc. Parade ground drill is entirely different too.

If I put my mind to it, I could list oodles of service-specific departures from every ‘common’ subject you have listed (plus a heap more) with the possible exceptions of phys and personal finance.

Phil
Phil
March 6, 2014 7:45 am

Having had the pleasure of spending many months at a purple phase 2 training establishment I can tell you that DMSTC in Keogh has a Common Core training syllabus and a Single Service syllabus. I think some aspects run together at the same time.

Rocket Banana
March 6, 2014 8:30 am

There must be somewhere between:

A one trick pony

…and…

A jack of all trades

The problem with commonality is that you end up with the “least common denominator” problem. However, that being said, there is absolutely no reason not to use common components or modules. These should really include EVERYTING other than the PLATFORM/CHASSIS.

IXION
March 6, 2014 8:39 am

Simon.

Somewhat surprisingly I agree with you.

A good example was Saracen Saladin

Or the FV4. .. series.and Abbot.

Even more than that wheels tyres engines transmissions alternators lights etc etc should be standardised and where possible cots.

The actual hull is the easy bit and maintenance and support wise almost none is required.

But we should still only be running 1 medium mobility 8 x 8 truck!

IXION
March 6, 2014 8:49 am

Actually that was a policy pursued by both sides in the cold war. But seems to have fallen out of favour in the last 20 years.

The family of apc, recon, sp gun,anti aircraft,anti tank, all based on same running gear with sometimes different hull does seem to have been replaced with the one hull does it all or not at all.

Even the FRES fuckup of the century (actually 2 centuries now)! Does not see radically different hull. I strongly suggest it would have been cheaper and lighter.

Actually having the bloody things hand built by premiership footballers out of diamond encrusted gold plates would be cheaper and lighter! But that’s another story.

Mark
Mark
March 6, 2014 8:50 am

Interesting thing commonality we’ve so far seen on this thread from the dark blue community commonality provided we start from a naval perspective, from the green community commonality provide we start from the army perspective and I’m sure the light blue would echo the sentiment too.

But were you save money easily is commonality in the smaller things. Not jumping straight to platforms and formations. Things like common targeting pod, eo turrets ,procedures for artillery fire, Uav control methods, fleets within fleets ect ect .

Chris
Chris
March 6, 2014 9:16 am

Simon – I agree. There are many levels on which commonality can be sought. In my (absolutely brilliant) vehicle designs the set of vehicles look as diverse as Scorpion next to Saracen next to Ferret next to FV432 next to 4-tonne but they use common components and subsystems so that the support burden is not stretched more than absolutely necessary if a different type is brought on line. Common support brings far more benefit than using exactly the same shape truck. Standardizing ammunition has more benefit than mandating one type of weapon for each calibre. Fortunately there is already a common fuel policy…

Its clear from the personnel viewpoint that there is real value in specialization – cooks are not expected to be re-roled without further training to fast jet piloting; gunners are not adequately trained maritime navigators; RAF loadmasters would not be trusted to repair SSBN reactor faults. Jack of all trades means a vague knowledge of everything. You just wouldn’t want the armed forces to have no specialists just to tick the ‘any task can be done by anyone in uniform’ box. So why attempt to do the same with equipment? Or training? Or SOPs?

By all means try to standardize across the services where the needs are the same. Certainly look at commonality of support to reduce inventory in stores, the logistic trail, and maintenance training. But don’t hamstring the fighting capability of our overstretched forces by refusing optimum equipment and training – “Its not what you need but you’ll just ‘ave to make do” is no way to win a war.

Tom
Tom
March 6, 2014 9:46 am

Mark – I think we’re getting there on that front, biggest problem is that the various programs rarely line up neatly enough to give you that sort of immediate commonality. I think it’s also worth remembering that alot of the sort of equipment that we’re buying is improving all the time, making commonality difficult to achieve.

Take EO turrets as an example. Think about how quickly digital camera/imaging are improving. Does it make sense to buy the same one that you brought for a previous platform 10 years ago, or does it make more sense to buy the latest model that has 2 times the performance, and (more importantly from an engineers pov) requires less electrical power?

Ok so you’re now operating 2 different types of EO turret across your fleet but you can’t afford the capital cost of upgrading all of your platforms without killing your programme budget. Likewise the model of EO turret that you’re currently operating is no-longer being built, and will possibly be stopped being supported by the manufacturer in 5 years time. Point is, that even with simple things it’s impossible to avoid non-commonality issues, not through fault of the decision maker, but simply because of the way things work out.

Tom
Tom
March 6, 2014 10:28 am

TD – re training (again) – I see your point, but….

People don’t join the ‘British Armed Forces’, they don’t identity at that level. They identify and join the ‘Royal Navy’, the ‘RAF’, the ‘Parachute Regt’, etc.

Isn’t better for them to surrounded by people who you are going to serve with for years to come, even if not in the same sub-unit? How much esprit de corps can you inspire in someone, if they were the only recruit going to the RN in a mixed group of Army and RAF types? Will they push each other along in the same way an all single service/corps group would do? Would you get the same peer pressure to carry-on?

There needs to be a critical mass in numbers to justify it (which is why we no longer have Corps/Regimental Depots), but the overhead costs aren’t as much you might think IMO and there must be cost benefits to specialising training early on.

That said, the Canadians apparently make common recuirt training work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_Military_Qualification

If training was something we really wanted to focus on, I think they’d be more value in having common basic training for Recruits and Officers (ala the Royal Marines).

Dunservin
Dunservin
March 6, 2014 11:02 am

@TD

“…instead of churning out a dark blue, light blue or green person, you could start with a purple person and that colour might just stick with them as their career progresses, which as we all know, would not be a bad thing.”

You do make some sweeping assumptions. I thought you knew about the Canadian disast… experience. It is all too easy to overlook the value of intangibles like service ethos, cameraderie and leadership (not management). Purple certainly has its place but only dark blue (and the occasional lovat) applies on a ship’s messdeck.

You might have a better understanding if you had ever been in a position to order a sailor on to a lurching forecastle in a mid-Atlantic Force 10 to recover and secure a dangling anchor before it punched a hole in the ship’s bottom; or order a section of soldiers across broken ground to take out a machine gun position. Service personnel don’t tend to perform acts of bravery for Queen and country but for their mates, most often those wearing the same uniform and sharing the same mess or other environment. The bonds formed in such circumstances last a lifetime; I know of no occupation outside the Armed Forces that engenders such strong personal associations and where lifelong relationships tend to be the rule rather than the exception.

“As I said, not saying this would produce any savings or whether those savings would be illusory…”

Then why insist on rocking a well-found boat?

“…but am not getting an overwhelming feeling that there are sufficient differences at the early stages of training to not seriously look at common basic training.”“

Then you are not absorbing what you are being told. While there is scope for a modicum of common basic training, it would be unnecessarily complicated to weed out non-service specific elements only to have to weave them back in later. It would certainly make any syllabus longer owing to the necessary review of original material.

“Let me ask you a question, do you think RN and RAF personnel would benefit from an increased focus on skill at arms?”

Quite possibly but at the expense of what else? Training is already intense and takes up an unacceptable amount of time. Anyway, the Royal Marines are the Navy’s dedicated sea soldiers.

“So looping back, for first aid, out of that 5 days, lets just say 4 days are common, and one day is service specific.

That is then 80% commonality…”

There is 80% commonality in kedgeree, bouillabaisse and stargazy pie; i.e. fish. That doesn’t mean it would be prudent to allocate 80% of total training resources (including time) to cooking the common element and only 20% to the variations. Sometimes, differences are more significant than similarities.

Mock not. (Sorry, I forgot who I was addressing ;-) )

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
March 6, 2014 12:55 pm

Boss – With you all the way on this one – do I get a gold star? :-0

I’d also like the eight week course undertaken by potential Reservists, committed CCF/ATC Cadets, and even potential Police and Fire Service Recruits…would weed out those really not suited to military life before starting on more expensive Service training, and maybe pick up others who hadn’t considered the option but find it really suits them…especially if it is tied in with HMAF sponsorship for relevant FE/HE Courses; might also build the kind of lifelong commitment that keeps the ranks of amateur sports clubs going year on year, and this is of critical importance of we are to maintain 30,000 committed reservists in perepetuity.

As to numbers, with an RN/RAF of 30,000+ each and an Army of 80,000+ we would get a Dark Blue Platoon, a Light Blue Platoon and 3 MTP Platoons per intake for regular service. Organise them as Houses (by Service) and Sets (by aptitude)…just like many of our best schools…and you can build Esprit de Corps on the one hand and purpleness on the other…managed effectively it might even get the efficiency the RM achieve in selecting recruits who stay the course before the most expensive elements of training are started…what’s not to like?

GNB

Simon257
Simon257
March 6, 2014 2:09 pm

Wasn’t the proposed Tri-Service Defence Academy at RAF St Athan, supposed to bring most specialist training under one roof? Do we really need three schools of catering? The same could be said of Driver Training and most of the engineering trades. The cancelling of the Academy was a massive mistake, by the coalition. And dare I say it, a huge slap in the face for South Wales!

Topman
Topman
March 6, 2014 2:24 pm

The defence acadamy is still happening but just not at Saints. There was a feeling it was rigged to gets votes in South wales (as was the the white elephant hanger there) New idea is to move it to Lyneham or possibly expand Cosford. Driving training is tri-service. I would imagine more will go tri service, Policing has already, medics, admin I’m pretty sure has and there’s probably more.
Engineering is still going through various plans, it’s going to take longer than others, mainly because it covers such a wide area of trades tri service. It’s also expensive and the courses need a lot of training and facilities. It’s trying to find somewhere that is big enough and then getting the money to do it. I think it may well be held up with the New Employment Model which is looking at training. In future alot more training courses will be moodle based and done through DII to help drive the cost of training down.

Simon257
Simon257
March 6, 2014 2:44 pm

@ Topman

You couldn’t get a bigger Base than St Athan, its one of the biggest Bases in the UK. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasnt the biggest.

Before Labour got into power, RAF Engine and Airframe Training was undertaken at St. Athan. So to was most Aircraft maintenance. But that was slowly moved away bit by bit. Hundreds of high tech Jobs were lost in the process. That wouldn’t have helped Labour win votes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOD_St_Athan

Topman
Topman
March 6, 2014 2:58 pm

Yes saints is a big base but has it got what we need? Enough training facilities etc? Engine and A/F training was (and still is) done at Cosford. Before that ~1993 it was at RAF Halton. Expanding Cosford would be a better option to my mind.

The white elephant hanger was a plan to consolidate all depth maint there. After the election the plan was cancelled although the hanger was built. The place is massive all FJ and some AT servicing was supposed to be done there. It didn’t happen, we went with a ‘Forward’ options and put all servicing at Front line units through mainly BAe contracts such as ATTAC and JUMP. Many who worked there thought they were buttered up with big plans then cut post election. Perhaps not what happened but that was what many felt.

Tom
Tom
March 6, 2014 3:52 pm

Re Defence Technical Training College: http://news.cision.com/defence-infrastructure-organisation/r/mod-publishes-development-plans-for-new-training-college-at-lyneham,c9349201

Should be at Lyneham for 2015.

Simon257 – There a few trades that have tri service equivalents that are taught at solely single service schools. Even if there a notional single service school, they fall under a tri service command or college and there will be plans to bring them to one site.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Military_training_establishments_of_the_United_Kingdom

AW1
AW1
March 6, 2014 4:10 pm

With regards to Lyneham/St Athan, the current plans are to move all of the Defence College of Technical Training there. The DCTT includes a selection of training schools for the REME at Bordon and Arborfield, RSigs at Blandford, RAF at Cosford and St Athan, and the RN at HMS Sultan, as well as a few others. This link has a bit on it:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/203536/dctt_lyneham_non_technical_summary.pdf

Anyway, a few years ago the plan was to move it all to St Athan, but this was canned in 2010. I don’t know about the RAF/Army elements to the plan, but the initial estimates of the savings from moving Sultan to St Athan were not massive, and with later investigations, these soon dwindled away to being no savings at all. Quite simply, there’s so much training equipment and facilities to be moved etc that the outlay for a new RN facility will be substantial. This plan has been ressurected at Lyneham, with the RN slated to move in one of the later tranches (but, as I understand, an as yet unfunded tranche).

One of the key bits that no-one ever discusses are the instructors. Sultan’s civillian staff, whether MoD CS or Babcock are almost all ex-Matelots, having left the RN to enjoy life in civvy street in the greater Pompey/Gospit area. The grand up-sticks and move plans all assume they are coming too. Most of them won’t, which leaves the MoD/Babcock/other contractor trying to recruit instructors with a suitable skillset and experience whilst offering a salary that doesn’t really compete with industry. I suspect similar issues may be true with the moves from Arborfield, Bordon, Cosford etc.

There definitely are advantages in commonality of training. The RLC’s boat maintainers are trained at Sultan for example. However, to see the cost savings, you need to co-locate. This means a big facility. We have plenty of big sites, but no big facilities. Building these will absorb significant capital expenditure, and this starts to eat into the savings advantages, if not negate them entireley in the short/medium term. At this point the question is then, is what little saving you see in the (probably) long term, worth the pain in the short term, and also the worth the disadvantages in common training (such as lack of single service ethos)?

Factor in the MoD and Govt’s record on big shiny projects, and for me, I don’t think it’s worth it. There are better areas to look to save money, and other areas where commonality can be achieved, rather than training.

Cheers,

AW1

Phil
March 6, 2014 4:31 pm

I have an open mind about most joint training, as I have said I have been trained at a purple establishment which seems to churn out very good medics / LAs etc despite the Navy being cunts (it’s okay, one of them introduced himself as such to us one day on parade and looking left and right I could see myself and comrades were thinking that indeed you are).

To my mind basic training is not something that can be done jointly. Why? To my mind basic training is about instilling a way of thinking, a way of behaving, a way of looking at yourself. In other words basic training is as much about socialisation as it is about instilling, lets face it, some very basic skills indeed.

You can argue that all three services wash their bollocks in the same way and operate a small arm in the same way but from my experience at a tri-service training centre, even though the camp is purple doesn’t mean there’s not inter-service rivalry and it certainly doesn’t mean people coming out of the experience thinking purple is a panacea. I was glad to get away from the RAF and their stupid thunderbird hats and the Navy who seemed to be far more excitable than anyone else on camp.

So the only benefit is perhaps to costs but then the single service elements of the training are the most expensive and would have to be done anyway by single service instructors after a washing your bollocks the purple way Lesson 1 and naming of parts Revision 2.

RRTT
RRTT
March 8, 2014 7:55 am

Good debate on cost savings by commonality, some good posts on limiting factors and there appear dilemmas. looking at commonality from a single country perspective. What about the huge cost savings from the large production runs, of say a single MBT platform, single SP artillery system, or a single mpa aircraft platform, a common frigate platform. Is not an airbus consortium approach missing in wider defence industry to balance the industry politics with defence effectiveness?. Difficult to forget that European NATO countries spend a not insignificant combined amount of cash but appear to get very little individual capability, perhaps Im being too simplistic but surely worth considering.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 8, 2014 8:17 am

So far that has only worked in missiles design&production.

But that is a hi-tech version of the Nordic Nammo; if you can’t independently replenish what you are shooting out, then you might be seriously constrained as for the freedom of your decison making.

monkey
monkey
March 8, 2014 10:57 am

Armchaircivi has a very very very valid point ,if you cannot replenish your munitions you tend to be conservative in your stratagey when it comes to blowing things up , take the Falklands for an example with an constant supply line of Exocets the Argentine attacks would been much more frequent with the consequent results to the fleet being disastrous.