Huffpost UK Politics uk
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Sir Rob Fry Headshot

Army Redundancies - Bad for the Military but Good for Britain's Businesses

Posted: Updated:
SIR DAVID RICHARDS
PA

Thousands of valuable, brave and highly trained personnel will have to leave the British military this year in an austerity measure to further help reduce the nation's debts (we are all in it together, after all).

Government figures show 5,000 jobs will be cut this year, with many more over the coming years to reduce he Army from over 100,000 personnel to around 82,000.

Despite the bleak outlook for the UK's defence capability, this is a significant opportunity for London's businesses to recruit talented officers and soldiers with invaluable skills. They have been proven in demanding battle situations and can bring a significant range of skills that are very relevant to today's uncertain and rapidly changing business environment.

There will be a wide range of highly skilled people retiring from the military For instance; there will be intelligence officers, technologists, logistics specialists and linguists. These skills can be an asset to many businesses, but the value of military service goes way beyond these specialist skills - it is the training in leadership, the focus on achieving specific objectives (come what may!), the experience of leading and inspiring a team in the hardest of situations, and the preparedness to step into your commander's boots immediately.

Contrary to the stereotype, in the military soldiers are not trained to follow orders blindly. Soldiers are in fact trained to act on initiative - essential for the chaos of a warzone and also for our fast-changing world. In fact, I can say from experience that the British military's style is far less directive and status-conscious than the typical corporate!

My experience ranges from the Royal Marines and Whitehall through to advising leading businesses around the world. This has reinforced my instincts - soldiers' training makes them good leaders in difficult times. They are clear about values and are not afraid to make decisions.

Soldiers work in situations where they must deal with the few resources they have - if you are on a battlefield of evacuating refugees and the equipment you need doesn't show you have to carry on regardless and improvise. Your life may depend on this, and the lives of others certainly will.

In the military you are trained to always be clear on 'what is the mission' and act to achieve your objectives: by contrast, often in business there is damaging ambiguity and an unwillingness to focus on achieving the really important key priorities.

Military staff learn the importance of team work early in their career. Businesses need employees who are not afraid to work with their teams; rather than working competitively against each other. Experiences learnt in real warfare, rather than the skills of e-mail warfare, will benefit businesses.

Much like the modern battlespace, the business environment needs companies with leaders - not just at the top, but throughout. The leadership training of the armed forces has proven itself for centuries in the harshest of conditions and these skills are the ones that are important for businesses too.

I cannot think of anyone better experienced for working in today's business world than experienced service personnel - and London's businesses would be wise to hire these people quickly: their business will benefit hugely, and if they don't their competitors will!

Sir Rob Fry, Chairman, international business execution consultants McKinney Rogers (www.mckinneyrogers.com). Before his career in business, Sir Rob was Commandant General of the Royal Marines and served as the Deputy Commander of Coalition forces in Iraq

Around the Web

MoD announces 5,300 army job cuts | UK news | guardian.co.uk

New year lay-offs: Army to fire 8,000 soldiers in 'fast-track ...

UK details 5,300 army redundancies

BBC News - MoD announces details of 4,200 job cuts

MoD struggling to reduce Army by 20,000 despite biggest ...

Army redundancies: 5,300 soldiers to lose jobs, MoD confirms ...

Will the 5,300 Army redundancies significantly affect the UK's ...

Army chief's eve of redundancies message

Presented By Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky