Under a new directive proposed by General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the General Staff, future army leaders could be recruited direct from ‘civi-street’ rather than rising up through the ranks as is traditionally the method.
The British Army is considering hiring direct from industry and the boardroom to get civilians who have already had established careers in areas such as: cyber technology, aviation technology and logistics – bringing with them a vast amount of experience from outside the military and plugging a skillset gap.
Sir Nick stressed his scheme would not apply to the Army’s frontline fighting combat arms and that the concept was “a year or two away”.
He said: “As an institution we are bottom fed. In other words we recruit people who are youngsters and then grow them through a career. I think that the modern way of working suggests that as we embrace a lot of the specialisms that we have got to embrace, we are going to have to offer different career structures”.
“I suspect that nearly as much as 30 per cent of the Army will be specialists in the future”.
“How we supply those specialist career streams, often probably with lateral entry and maybe sharing people with industry because all of us are struggling with the so-called science, technology, engineering and maths skills, is something we will have to think about in the future”.
It is believed that the first recruitment will likely to be to ranks such as captain, major or non-commissioned officers, but in future it could extend to positions as senior as brigadier.
The personnel holding these senior positions would not undergo ‘basic-training’ as is presently the norm for anyone who joins the military and would not be required to pass annual Basic Fitness Tests (BFT).
Sir Nick said the Army was “probably a year or two away” from the move, which would need profound changes to careers structures and the way the Army recognises status. The Army may need to bring in new senior non-commissioned officer ranks he suggested.
He said: “We may need to adopt a more American-style approach. They have these people called chief warrant officers. A chief warrant officer is typically a pilot or avionics officer who moves up through this different system of status and I think that the British Army is going to have to think about doing that sort of thing as well.”
But he predicted the Army’s combat arms would remain unchanged in his lifetime.
He said: “I think we will still deliver that effect through a bottom-fed delivery system in the way that we understand it, but I think that the cursor will move in other areas.”