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Furniture said:So the key take away is that SNCOs are the problem, and officers are helpless victims?
No. No. No. That's the wrong takeaway from this. Problems in leadership can and do happen at every level. Different circumstances have differing results.
In any military that creates it's officer corps primarily by way of recruitment from the street (either direct entry or RMC or West Point or Sandhurst) rather than from within the ranks, you will naturally have a separate career stream for NCOs and commissioned officers where, generally, the NCOs will have age and experience on their side while junior officers commanding their first troop or platoon have neither.
In the British tradition of militaries (and we still pretty much are one of those) Snr NCOs have always been the bridge between the ranks and the officer corps at least within the battalion level. We have always depended very heavily on the Snr NCOs, especially at the platoon level, to educate and support junior officers, in their ability to command troops.
The point here is that such Snr NCOs have the dual responsibility of leading, training and protecting their troops while building the skills and confidence of their officers. Sometimes that system breaks down for any number of reasons: the officer is too stubborn (or stupid) to learn, the Snr NCO can't be bothered being an officer's baby-sitter or what have you. In the case I described above, the troops and junior officers were in their early twenties while the Snr NCOs were in their forties. Circumstances had created a significant age gap as a result of which the bridge between troops and officers wasn't working as it should.
I agree with you that the situation that started this thread was a failure at all levels. Unfortunately MBWA is negated by one of our systemic issues (especially in the reserves) where officers are all too often swamped in administrative matters that keep them in the office rather than out on the floor. That same division almost ensures that Snr NCOs have less and less time with their junior officers to help develop them properly. Also, typically for a reserve unit, such improper activities take place "after hours" or "off-site" where there is no supervision.
I also tend to agree with about MBWA at the Jnr NCO level. As a young gunner on my Jnr NCO course, I was certainly taught how to lead and closely supervise my subordinates because that was my main job. Quite frankly though, I didn't have to do much MBWA because basically the folks I looked after were usually within a few yards of me. I didn't get the same training at the officer cadet level. We did have training and exercises where we supervised others but those were usually our fellow cadets. We were taught very little about "garrison" leadership.
I sometimes wonder if some of these types of issues, as in the instant case, are really centered on the breakdown of the corporal rank. Back when I was a young gunner and bombardier, there was a distinct division amongst the junior ranks between the gunners on the one hand and lance bombardiers and bombardiers on the other. Bombardiers were leaders who generally kept the more unruly junior ranks behaviour in check. Obviously today's bombardiers/corporals no longer fit that bill, and I sometimes wonder how much our master bombardiers/corporals in the reserves have taken up that leadership role when off the floor or not on exercise. Unfortunately I've been too long away from the coal face to know whether my suspicions have any basis in fact.