Monday, September 22, 2014

Baubles, RCAF edition

The news yesterday was about the RCAF (officers, mostly, save for 'aviators') joining the RCN and the Army (officers, entirely) in the back to the future schtick of reverting to pre-Trudeau unification ranks and symbolism.

Judging by the RCAF Facebook and Twitter comments, it is slightly controversial. Some pragmatists saw nothing wrong with the yellow-gold bars that were the norm until now and see this sort of exercise as a waste of money when, you know, wounded vets are being seriously fucked out of pensions and badly needed ships, planes, and trucks remain unrealised. Others wax wistfully about how some sort of 'honour' is now restored and recall with fondness the pre-1968 uniforms tucked away in closets. Still others are less than satisfied because this looks like a  compromise between the old RCAF of Wing Commanders and Pilot Officers* (because the last really big War, Commonwealth, at so on), and the post-Hellyer Majors, Colonels and Generals, with updated versions of the rank insignia of the former superimposed on the latter. To me, it seems like a very made in Canada solution where competing traditions were compromised. Former privates, who are most definitely not pilots, are now something called 'Aviator' which is meant to be a gender-neutral variation of the 'Leading Aircraftsman'  - nevermind 'aviatrix' I guess. (Will the army finally drop the weird MCpl rank/appt thing, and reinstate the lance jack? Unlikely.) I also don't quite understand why RCAF Air Commodores and Marshals Generals require TWO distinct versions of their rank insignia on their DEUs (seriously, why?).

The NCOM ranks haven't changed save for the lowest symbolised rung.  This stuff really is all about the officers (and politicians).

Yet, the RCN just officially lost FOUR of its most important warships, the RCAF's Hornet replacement is unknown, and the wounded are cast-off, and Canada quite literally just got sold to Chinese investors by the Harper government. Who this shiny back-to-the-future Canadian Forces are meant to serve now remains an open question.  Could get weird in ten or twenty years.

*CTV is reporting that maintaining the Army, sorry, uh, "Royal Flying Corps" officer rank titles is because a return to the RAF-type ranks (ahem, also in use in many other air forces!) is "too confusing". Not sure I buy that.

7 comments:

ThinkingManNeil said...

Can't agree with the assignment of "Aviator" to the most junior ranks. An aviator IS a pilot, plain and simple. Be like calling every casual stargazer a cosmologist or every Catholic Pope. But considering this emerged from the Harper regime and the company boys at DND HQ I'm not surprised they didn't think this through.

Meanwhile, the shuffling of deck chairs on the Canadian Titanic continues apace...

N.

harebell said...

Might as well change them to this now
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/china/pla-rank.htm

it'll save a lot of expense later

e.a.f. said...

Obviously those in "control" need to have someone find them something meaningful to do. This sort of thing only happens when no one has enough work to do.

Put the money into Vets, support services for those currently serving and build those new ships. At the rate things are going, the next time harper opens his big mouth, there won't be any equipment left to deliver. Sort of like that line, "harper has a big mouth and carries a small stick".

Evil Brad said...

Yes, that dual insignia for the top 4 ranks really is weird. Maybe one of those (I'm guessing the pips) will just not ever be used in practice, sort of like the forage cap, or the Infantry Corps cap badge. In any case, I don't see how any this is going to break the bank...

Evil Brad said...

actually, it looks like the second rank insignia for the general officers is probably for mess-kit (something the officer pays for himself, btw)

The Mound of Sound said...

I confess that the gold bars always reminded me of a bus driver costume. Then again, I am of the pre-68 era.

Boris said...

MoS,
Its interesting to think about the role aesthetics plays in it. Me, I think the current RCAF blue is too blue and looks a bit tacky - but then it is a product of the 1980s. Agree on the gold - they'd have worked better as more of a strawgold than a mustard yellow gold. THe The uniform's tailoring sometimes makes me feel like it looks like maternity gown with they way it sticks out at the front.