Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Harper's Army

Scenario. The Army is faced with two challenges. First, post-Afghanistan everything, from burnt out kit to burnt out troops. Second, the Army is still afflicted with a Harper, which effectively means being tarted-up for parades and photo-ops but having the very basics like new trucks and post-service welfare denied like some trophy partner shown off in public but beaten and starved at home.

The Army solution, as reported in the media, is for the commander of the Army to say from on high unto the troops, "Complain, and I'll fuckin' charge ya!"

This is what is "hurting the army".

IF, and a big IF, this isn't part of some overall strategy (clearly off to a roaring start) aimed at consolidating Army morale and cohesion in the face of the aforementioned challenges, it's a problem and a serious one. Some officers and non-commissioned types have a Pavlovian tendency to mindlessly "lead" by threat. There is no problem too great or complex, apparently, that more "discipline" cannot solve. In fact, they never ever want to hear of any problem of any nature, so when someone raises an issue even when asked, they flip and threaten that person instead of dealing with the issue. Beware anyone suggesting that conditions are anything but rainbows and lolipops. 
There's few things more toxic for morale and motivation than a leadership style that is based solely on this raw prerogative to punish. However, the troops aren't stupid and ours is a volunteer army. Many soldiers have one, two, three combat tours behind them. They aren't afraid of charges or Club Ed and their BS detectors are state of the art. Too much of this bullshit, and they will exit, voice themselves louder, and find ways of undermining a clueless leadership.

Troops going to the media about conditions in the Army indicate a leadership failure. 


e.a.f. said...

what do these mindless idiots think? as you pointed out many have had a few tours and don't scare that easy. Going to the media will give everyone a very clear view of what is going on. we have already seen how poorly the vets are treated. We have seen the number of suicides of armed forces personnel. it could be that all the armed forces might be left with are those working in the head office in ottawa.

Of course a few might start a blog or a few might decide to write books. they can get it off their chest and make money.

Jim said...

It's interesting that the memo quotes lower level standing orders (DAOD and CANFORGEN) but omits the root of all restrictions: Queen's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces 19.14(2):

No officer or non-commissioned member shall do or say anything that:

if seen or heard by any member of the public, might reflect discredit on the Canadian Forces or on any of its members; or
if seen by, heard by or reported to those under him, might discourage them or render them dissatisfied with their condition or the duties on which they are employed.

The problem is that QR&O assumes that any legitimate complaints will be adequately addressed by the chain of command, as part of their duty to "promote the welfare, efficiency and good discipline of all subordinates" under QR&O 4.02 (e).

When this is not the case, the problem cannot be solved by charging the subordinates.

I wonder if LGen Hainse has seen QR&O 19.15 lately? It deals with Prohibition of Reprisals.

Dave said...

The problem with Hainse, and those of his ilk, is that the application of QR&O has always been highly selective. That particular class of "ring knocker" views QR&O as contradictory in nature because full application would prevent them from equating the station of "class" with that of "rank". I've met a lot of officers who, when asked why they abandon the principles of leadership in favour of some aberrant idea of their own, tell me that what they were taught in military college doesn't work in practice.
The reason they see things that way is simple. They were taught it at too young a mental age. It is exacerbated by a lack of officers being commissioned from the ranks with enough grey hair and mud on their boots to invoke the necessary terror into the little snots.

'ole Canadian soldier said...

Dave's comment "It is exacerbated by a lack of officers being commissioned from the ranks with enough grey hair and mud on their boots to invoke the necessary terror into the little snots" is right on the money.

And this newly minted post-war CDS is lacks any ability to invoke terror into those combat hardened "little snots". A pilot, is going to try to pretend he can make a Patricia cry...I think Not. [huge grin]