Bulletin: 17th December 2017 – Update on Branch Development Plan

Seasons Greetings!

Summary Dismissal

The branch development plan which incorporated a bid for funds for projects, from one million pounds of welfare funds “available”, has been turned down.  The reason being that the funding committee thought that the radio branch membership was no more than a bunch of radio hams (“11 Strong”).  The application was therefore turned down with caveats:  That the branch should not apply again or break the application up into separate requests.  Effect: Kybosh.

Because those were the only reasons offered and the document was fairly comprehensive, also it contained a snapshot of our social media statistics, indicating continuous interest from 230 people reading our posts it provoked an immediate reaction.  We disputed whether our submission had been read before it was acted upon.  The voluntary effort taken to create it was certainly not a consideration.

Membership Data

To be fair we included in our development plan that there are discrepancies between the REA database (and ours).  While the REA think we have a membership of 11 “radio Hams” we think our numbers are over ninety, taken from data from our web form and historical membership records.  Approx 32 people in that group have amateur radio licenses.   (We contacted all our members when we took over but regular contact is fairly sparse and not enough to confirm annual membership.)

We therefore realised there are large(r) numbers of signallers (and sappers) that are still alive today who have been through our trade training – but without the right data it is impossible to reach out.   This holds us back.  We raised the opportunity at least two years ago.  Our plan was to grow progressively with support.  Also we have known for some time that by improving how we administer the branch it would unlock further possibilities for development across the whole piece.  We have offered support to develop this idea before but we have always felt we were not being listened to, we decided to document it in the plan.

Future of the Radio Branch

We think the survival of the branch depends on growth and have prepared for it.  However we doubted there would be support for the development.  We have seen the impact of trying to meet challenges without support.  Nobody in their right mind wants to do that for long(1).

We now think the branch is unsupported despite much good will shown by CO’s of 1 and 3 Regt RE over the years.

We are unable to grow at our own pace.

We know the REA has a plan (but this had not come to light by the time our development plan was submitted(2)).  We doubted our unique requirements were a part of this as we were not included in the survey interviews and so our plan was compiled from two development meetings at the command support branch and then submitted separately.  This was done voluntarily and the notes circulated and agreed with serving officers and soldiers.  We gave the time we could afford – voluntarily recognising a risk if we didn’t contribute.

Getting Real

Having full knowledge of the issue of the branch being identified as a “small number of hams”, in this committees life, we have always taken steps to be inclusive of all signallers and have bothered to build a following by marketing this.  In the funding committees response, this effort went unacknowledged.

The response was simply not appropriate and we expected better.  It made out we were liars when we acknowledged we had problems.

Professionally we have never seen a funding application process that didn’t include a presentation from the people submitting the application, and a mechanism for reviewing it.

Nor have we ever submitted a plan that has been dismissed without someone recognising the issues and offering support.

The dismissal gives the appearance that the branch operates under a delusion when getting real is the main reason behind airing the plan.

The final point is that when we challenged the way it was dismissed, we said it was dangerous, in the knowledge that it risked scuppering the branch altogether.  The response to this was “over-dramatic”.  We were serious. We know enough about the branch to be able to predict the outcome and be concerned.

Current Situation

The Branch Secretary has resigned as of November 2017.  He has asked to hand over the administration and the assets which include the website and social media accounts while he reverts to ordinary membership.

The branch committee don’t yet have a response to what happened and, as you might expect, there has been no high level contact either way about our response.  This was to handover the admin to prevent any further damaging emails and provide a cooling off period.

NB.  The website belongs to the branch but the annual running costs is a voluntary contribution, this arrangement expires in May 2018 due to the donor reaching retirement age and (1) above.

What are we going to do?

For the future, there is still time to consider the matter.  We think to wait for (2) is out of the question.  If the events above run their course the branch now needs to downsize rather than grow.

A committee meeting is planned for Jan\Feb 2018

About admin

Enigmatic to the core I went to school in Bolton and Manchester and ended up joining up at Manchester in '69 enlisting in the corps of Royal Engineers. My aspirations were quite vague at that age and I was persuaded to drive for a living and occasionally operate radios instead of flying fighter planes:). Having then learnt my trade and obtaining my centurion tank driving licence, my early career saw plenty of action on Soltau tank ranges and the obligatory tours as a radio op in the infantry and engineer roles in Northern Ireland -2 years all in. Operating the radio took my fancy (even after a four month tour following a super fit troop commander around on patrols with a 43 pound radio on my back) - it was something I would eventually be able to teach. After 20 years I ended up in the position of QMSI (look it up) before diversifying into an IT Role with HQ Engineer in Chief. This was early days for IT in the RE and having studied it in my spare time to an acceptable level - aided and abetted by an elmer with excellent skills on the BBC Micro (G3WOV, See also below) and the Nienburg Computer and Electronics Club, eventually I became a CIS WO - one of the first in the corps with any Command, Control, Communication and Information Systems Experience - qualifying as a systems analyst and amongst other things, training at the school of military survey in Geographical Information Systems. In the history of the corps IT was so new at this time, the laptop was only just becoming cheap enough to afford and there weren't many people around who had one in the military. But when the UN went into Bosnia it became an essential tool no officer could be seen without. When this was realised I ended up purchasing a roulement scale of IT kit and devising the first ever Windows and office software training course in the RE, and then delivering it as pre tour training package - with Alan Lewis (Wordperfect, SuperCalc and Paradox). It was in those days that Alan Lewis introduced me to CIX and Compuserve. (No internet, just dial up bulletin boards then). Interestingly when TCPIP took off with email I was offered shares fairly early on in Demon Internet - oh how I wish I had taken that up. There was then this period when data communications became fashionable and I remember working a rear link via 300 baud packet between Chattenden Barracks and the Falkland Islands in the early nineties. At least three hundred packets got through before the novelty wore off:) Not much of a record, but interesting to see how packet took off and declined in quite a short space of time and how TCP\IP has flourished - so much so that the address space has already filled up when it wasn't supposed to:) I took up amateur radio whilst serving at Tidworth in '78 due mainly to a great elmer, G3WOV. Here, besides breaking my leg and taking up shortwave listening, I did four jobs of note; Detachment to Cheshire Police HQ during fire strike - signals corporal, Married Gillian, passed the REA and Morse test and promptly after that found myself abroad monitoring a ceasefire in Rhodesia. The newly acquired radio licence came in handy as they kindly lent me a brand new PRC320 with which to practice on during those lonely nights in the bush (and live ammo). See here http://5820-99-114.com/TCRU/?cat=48 - After that I spent the next 10 years in 21 Engineer Regiment in Germany where I held and used the callsign DA1CY and then DA2DI (on the second tour). Occasionally purloining the CLANSMAN Kit for the odd QSO. While stationed in Nienburg I had the lovely experience of raising my daughter - Sammy and on the second tour my son Tom was born. They reckon it was something in the water. While here on the first tour I had a sked with VP8API (look it up) on 1.10.82. Ian was on tour clearing up after the Falklands war. Interestingly - while calling him on my 100 watt TS120S transceiver and dipole I was called back by 4K1A in Antarctica. I could not believe he gave me five and nine. The cold war being what it was I think the operator was curious because he was asking me where my friend was - (not obvious). Between tours in Nienburg I had the great pleasure of teaching TA Soldiers in 75 Engineer Regiment (V) radio skills - I think I took away as much learning as I imparted. Worked PRC349 to PRC349 from Snowdon to the Cat and Fiddle in Cheshire on Whip Antenna for a bet (work that one out). One memorable part of this was spending a great deal of time designing computer software with a really good RSO who could program in Basic to generate Slidex and MAPCO Keys. We finally nailed what must have been the most boring job in the army, and then they supersede it with BATCO. I had the job of converting the regiment to that. While living in Failsworth, I encountered a lifelong friend, Ian, G6TGO for the first time. We have had occasional skeds ever since - we are still trying to get the 351/2 to work between Gravesend and Manchester - (Close). Notably on my second tour in Nienburg I got the time to practice combat engineering in between radio stags and having got the hang of command and control using BATCO which was fraught, I analysed the radio messages we were sending during an exercise and noted how much time it would save if we formatted them differently - BATCO was a problem and it was costing the corps days and hours it would not afford in a war. On realising this I produced the first Engineer Secure Orders Cards (ESOCS) on my Amstrad PC using DTP. Uncannily surreal, but I also lived for a time in the same flat as Spike, G4AKQ but ten years or so later, and then after becoming good friends with him even more years later I discovered we had that in common when I read the address on his QSL Card. Now settled in Gravesend I had the honour to further serve in both the police and the NHS. Firstly as a network manager - how cool? Straight out of the army and straight into a network manager's job with the same money and a half again. Then one day I spotted a project of note with the police, as technical lead on a county wide rollout project for their Digital AIRWAVE Radio system. How time flies, they are now planning its replacement. Since then I have had many exploits with cost saving IT Projects for the NHS and I can see them replacing some of those systems soon. It will soon be time to retire however not before I save them another few million. Now I work for a mental health trust - I can see both sides of that particular coin having acquired a little black dog at some time in my career, which is not uncommon - I am so glad mental health and the military mindset have become hot topics for discussion :) Check me out on Facebook and LinkedIn. My favourite quote: "What the fcuk do the engineers know about IT and communications?" Will let you guess where that one came from :). Having used and taught LARKSPUR, CLANSMAN, and now glimpsed the Bowman Radio Systems (which was being specified as I was in EinC) I realise that just about everything I have worked on in the Army, BATCO, MAPCO, Slidex, Griddle, VP, SOCs Morse Code, Map reading and Marking skills have been digitised and encrypted to the Nth degree. That's why I am creating a digital record, - before I become obsolete myself or worse - TRON.
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1 Response to Bulletin: 17th December 2017 – Update on Branch Development Plan

  1. admin says:

    Sorry about the password on this bulletin. Temporary only until approved by committee.

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