I was recently posed the above question by Rango (Editor of Allyness.com) and it is worth examining? With the recent media campaign trying to attract members of the Millennial and Snowflake generations, is the army about to be overwhelmed by those who have no concept of allyness?
We all know the Army is commanded by officers who are themselves an anti-ally bunch. The role of the modern officer has gone from leading men into battle, to playing a political game of cat and mouse. This can clearly be seen with the recent move to open up the Infantry and Cavalry to females. Although I have no doubt that some females are capable of doing the job of a grizzled-out Infantryman or snot-nosed donkey walloper, this is no doubt a political response to an ever vocal, melty minority section of society. To understand what un-ally is, we must know what is an ally – It is “Battlefield Cool” (see Allyness_magazine on Instagram)
Although this may appear to be quite simple, it is actually quite complex. For example, a Guardsman may see having any sideburns as being quite an ally. After all, the Guards are the least ally of all the infantry regiments in regard to the ‘spick n span’ bollocks of public duties in the British Army, whereas having mega sideburns in The Rifles was the norm. Whilst on operations, growing a “goucho” tashe or Viking beard is obviously seen as an ally. We all know that a beard is bulletproof. However, those in the Royal Navy are allowed to grow beards as the norm, and no one outside of those at Lympstone or Poole could ever be considered an ally. It is all a matter of context. There are some though, who, no matter what they do, can never be allied. Those include chefs and clerks.
Regardless of whether you’re some Army Commando, P Company qualified bloke, you will still be a turbo REMF, and therefore, not ally. After more than a decade in baggy combats, as a SAS smock wearing, long side-burned, scrimmed up (before it was allowed by the Infantry Battle School) Infantry NCO, I’d like to think I can recognize allyness not only in myself but in others. Would I encourage my soldiers to be ally, of course, you can’t just display all that allyness at once. You can’t have a junior soldier cutting around like a Tier One operator in Crye multicam gear, JayJays webbing and growing a tache like a 1980s porn star, that level of allyness needs to be earned. Likewise, you can’t have a full screw with no operational experience doing the same, they haven’t earned it either. With a move away from kinetic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is going to be less exposure to what is battlefield ally. Being ally on exercise is nowhere near being ally on operations. The army says it is going back to basics, moving back to traditional warfare, in other words, back to green string, bungees and trench clearing. The opportunities to be ally here will need to be reinvented or lost forever!
So who is the cause of this? It is the senior command: officers. You would have thought that with the CDS being a Rifleman and the CGS being a former SF operator, there would be a serious amount of allyness cutting around Whitehall. Alas, it is in fact the opposite. The days of officers like SAS legend Lt Col Paddy Maine DSO and 3 bars tearing apart Stuka dive bombers with his bare hands before driving under fire headlong in a jeep to rescue a patrol, or the Rifle Brigade’s Lt Col Victor Turner VC talking out multiple Panzers in the Western Desert, or the Glosters Lt Col James Carne VC DSO leading assault parties against overwhelming numbers of Chinese in Korea, are long gone.
Officers are now there to curb allyness and enforce rigid pointless discipline on the “filth and scum” (as Wellington described them) that are the soldiers under them. Remember, the word “officious”: being authoritative in a domineering way, especially with regards to trivial matters, is not too far from the word officer. Therefore, being a modern-day officer means, you are statistically more likely to win the Euro- Millions, then to be ally.
So, what is the answer to Rango’s question? Unfortunately, it is a loud and miserable “yes”. The un- ally have already infiltrated at junior levels with recruits that don’t like to be shouted at, want to have nose rings and don’t like getting wet because it plays havoc with their manicures. They have also infiltrated at middle command level with young officers, those from the Millennial generation taking command of platoons and enforcing the un-ally practices taught at Sandhurst, and meddling in platoon business that is the forte of their ally NCO’s. Finally, the un-ally has infiltrated the very highest echelons of command. With a CDS once described by an American colleague as “a chateau general” and a CGS who forgets his days at Hereford and only remembers his days square-bashing with the Irish Guards is it hardly a surprise.
With the modern generation not knowing whether they are male, female or a toaster, how are they going to be able to become ally? What we need is another war to get stuck in to. That way, the snowflakes and melts will be put off and we’ll get the salt of the earth types through the door as junior soldiers. In terms of the officers, perhaps we should take a lead from our NATO colleagues in Germania, with a company run by a Captain and a Lieutenant as a 2IC. Platoons are run by senior Sergeants and that way, you don’t have 22-year-old public schoolboys throwing around their unimportant rank around steely eyed dealers of death. Anyone who wants to be an officer would have to serve three years as a proper soldier first and then be selected from the “filth and scum” to be officers. They might then have some integrity and have a greater respect for those under them.
Then, and only then, we might get a CGS from the same ilk of Lieutenant General Adrian Carton de Wiart. A man who served as a trooper in the Boer War and then went on to win a VC, CMG and DSO in the Great War, to then fight in Poland, Norway, Yugoslavia, be captured in North Africa only to escape back to British lines, go on to fight in China and South East Asia before hanging out with Douglas MacArthur in Tokyo, despite having one eye, one arm. When writing his autobiography he summarized his experiences in the Great War as “Frankly, I had enjoyed the war”……ally fucker!
* Written for Allyness Magazine by Sturmscharfuhrer Rott von Scobenstien.