Leadership is about doing, not saying.

Leadership is about doing, not saying.

Leadership is about doing, not saying. It is time with regard to Mental Health training and awareness, for senior leaders to ‘walk the walk and not just talk the talk.’

There was a slight nervousness in the faces of General Sir Nick Carter, Admiral Tony Radakin, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith and Air Chief Marshall Sir Mike Wigston, collectively known in defence as ‘The Chiefs’ in a video they released collectively to mark World Mental Health day on Saturday 10th October.

“During these important times it’s more important than ever that we take notice of our mental wellbeing and that of our colleagues, our friends and our family and particularly those we lead,” said Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, opening the video.

“Since the publication of the Armed Forces Mental Health Strategy 2011, the mental health and wellbeing of our Defence People has been a subject of substantial investment and focus. The next five years will see a period of sustained focus on mental health and wellbeing. We need to engage everyone in Defence, at all levels, if we are to maintain a mentally healthy population,” said Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, then Chief of Defence People, in his foreword to The Defence People Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2017-2022.

So, do the senior leaders in Defence lead by example when it comes to Mental Health, we are 3 years into the 5 year strategy building on the 2011 foundation?  This is a very difficult question to get a tangible answer to as, despite their underlying nervousness, ‘The Chiefs’ were advancing a more positive mental health message in their video, which is good. They were talking the talk.

Not being satisfied with the substance behind some of the MoDs ‘talk’ a little digging was done.  That digging found out that, “The MoD does not mandate any formal recorded Mental Health training for Senior Officers.”

That is fine in itself as the Armed Forces Mental Health Strategy was published in 2011 giving a long time to get training in place and develop a culture of it being “must do” for leaders, as that is setting an example. After all the Australian Navy says, “Leaders acknowledge the moral equality of all who serve and build a climate of mutual respect.” That is simply leading by example and the training exists in various guises.

In addition, our senior leaders have a command function and that is a legal function, requiring set, auditable standards to ensure consistency and fairness in their judgements. They, in various guises, are the ultimate arbiters with complaints, they set the moral policy across defence and rule on areas where they feel it has been broken. You can’t do that on ad hoc knowledge.

So, what is the reality of how the senior leadership of all three services approach the example they set to mental health awareness and training. It is recognised there is a lot of mental health awareness briefing going on across defence, but given ‘Command’ has a legal status, ad hoc briefing isn’t good enough.

According to ‘The Chiefs’ and the Armed Forces Mental Health Strategy, mental health is engaging everyone and is getting substantial investment; therefore, formal training is critical to ensure the foundation for that legal status Command empowers so that it is consistent and auditable.

Armed with positivity from the Chiefs talking the talk, the MoD was asked about formal mental health training in the senior officer cohort, so RN Captain, Army Colonel and RAF Group Captain (OF5) and above. These ranks and above are those in the most senior command positions, those that should set examples to their subordinates across defence.

The statistics speak for themselves, OF 5 is Captain (RN), Colonel, Group Captain and they go up from there so in Army parlance, OF 6 is Brigadier, OF 7 Major General and on:

Rank  Number of Officers            Number MH Trained          Percentage

RN (including RM)

OF9                2                                  0                                              0%

OP8                7                                  0                                              0%

OF7                32                                4                                              12.5%

OF6                85                                9                                              10.6%

OF5                297                             2                                              0.67%

Total:             423                             15                                            3.55%


OF9                4                                  0                                              0%

OP8                16                                2                                              12.5%

OF7                42                                3                                              7.1%

OF6    Brig     147                             14                                            9.5%

OF5    Col      517                             3                                              0.58%

Total:             726                             22                                            3.03%


OF9                3                                  0                                              0%

OP8                6                                  0                                              0%

OF7                28                                0                                              0%

OF6                83                                4                                              4.82%

OF5                286                             1                                              0.35%

Total:              406                             5                                              1.23%

What makes the statistics worse if that could be possible, is that none of ‘The Chiefs,’ the Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral of the Fleet, Chief of the General Staff or Chief of the Air Staff have completed any recorded training course and only seven 2 star (OF7) officers in ‘Command Positions’ across defence have done so, none in the RAF. Is this leadership by example?  It is clear that our senior leaders in uniform and worse, those in command positions, do not walk the walk.

Karen McLeish whose teenage son Alistair was found hanged in a bathroom at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, told Mark Nicol of the Mail on Sunday, ‘This is a shocking disclosure. The MoD constantly says it is committed to soldiers’ mental health. Yet how can they be when so few officers are trained in this area and when the course is voluntary? This is the wrong attitude; the MoD must properly accept its responsibilities otherwise troops will continue to suffer in silence until it is too late to help them.’

Tobias Ellwood, chair of the Commons Defence Select Committee said to mark Nicol of the MoD figures: ‘It is sad to see an important initiative, not being welcomed by the officer class. Their absence and non-participation is concerning given the genuine efforts the imbalance in support for mental versus physical health.’

In essence, actions speak louder than words, is what the first African American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Colin Powell, said of leaders when he uttered the words, “The most important thing I learned is that soldiers watch what their leaders do. You can give them classes and lecture them forever, but it is your personal example they will follow.”  Is this leadership by example?

The gauntlet has been thrown down, how many more lives must be destroyed or lost before the senior officer cohort in Defence stop talking the talk and actually walk the walk? When will command recognise the need for moral leadership, leadership by example? When will defence recognise the need for consistent auditable activity in its people sphere?

I personally had a senior officer record in interview notes after interviewing me, “I wish to formally record my concern for the welfare and wellbeing of this officer,” and he then did nothing but watch my life fall apart over the next few years. He took great delight in highlighting to his bosses that he showed concern by noting his concerns, he talked the talk, but his inaction in looking after me or even talking to me and telling me of those concerns, demonstrated he didn’t walk the walk. Defence tried every trick in the book to stop me getting a copy of his interview notes, they failed, so, yes, it is personal!

If the Chiefs say, “People are our most important asset,” yet this is the example they set, how can they be trusted with less important issues such as equipment capabilities as are being debated as part of the Integrated Defence and Security Review. Where does the responsibility ‘buck’ stop?

{All answers were provided by the MoD under a FOIA request that asked about any and all formal MH training. The MoD provided all of the answers and were approached by the MoS for comment, providing only a holding reply, they won’t talk to Philip Ingram as he is on Defences naughty step.}


Philip Ingram MBE is a PTSD survivor no thanks to the MoD; he is available for comment please just visit the Contact Us page for details.





Army restructuring a necessary start to meet current threats

Army restructuring a necessary start to meet current threats

** Updated**

by Philip Ingram MBE

I was fortunate to be invited to a very closed briefing and discussion with the British Army’s Commander Field Army, Lieutenant General Ivan Jones, on Tuesday with only one other defence commentator Lincoln Jopp.

We had a good 90+ minute of two on one time discussing the rebalancing detailed in the press release below, including the reformations of the Army’s 6th Division. The real challenges in delivering an Army capability to meet current threats, most of which are well below the threshold of war fighting or where you would see traditional military capabilities intervening.

It is not the final answer as to what is needed as that requires not just an Army approach but a whole defence approach and with the new Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, being a veteran and the longest serving Security Minister proper to his current appointment, we have a minister who understands.

General Ivan was clear that this was a journey for the Army, starting with small adaptive steps enabling a better cycle of rebalancing for the future as threats evolve and develop. He was also clear that his remit was and could only be focused on the Army only.

The rebalancing, within current assets is a very necessary start emphasising the importance of capabilities that were closely held before in an organisation, not formation, called Force Troops. Grouping them into a formation with an identity and history puts them on the same footing as other elements and that is the first win in a psychological and information battle to recognise their value.

It also recognises the vital importance of maintaining a Division focused on high intensity armoured warfighting, 3rd Division, which I emphasised was the Army’s strategic capability as it kept the UK able to fight at the highest intensity with an Armoured Divisional formation alongside the Americans. No other NATO nation can do this.

With the 1st Division providing much of the capabilities needed to meet all of the tasks that develop on a regular basis around the globe, emphasising the Army’s contribution to the UKs P5 responsibilities and global reach, 6th Division can support those daily operations whilst contributing to the countering of more asymmetric attacks happening on a daily basis.

This restructuring is not the answer to everything and nor will or can it meet all current threats, but it is the first step in a journey and that first step gives a series of capabilities a Divisional command and control structure akin to the other capability providing divisions, and for the new division with psychological warfare in its structure, that rebranding is important in influencing future Army force development.

The Press Release from an earlier press update is here:

Army restructures to confront evolving threats The Army has outlined its plans to rebalance the Field Army to ensure that it can compete with and defeat adversaries both above and below the threshold of conventional conflict. Lt Gen Ivan Jones, Commander Field Army (CFA), has described plans for rebalancing his command which will see changes to the structure of the Field Army’s primary formations. Lt Gen Ivan Jones, Commander Field Army said: “The character of warfare continues to change as the boundaries between conventional and unconventional warfare become increasingly blurred.

The Army must remain adaptable and evolve as a fighting force. The three complementary British Army Divisions harness the wide range of British Army capabilities, providing choice to the Government in defence of the UK’s interests. Whilst retaining its operational focus, the intention is to rebalance the Army’s formations in order to meet the challenges of constant competition and maintain its high-end warfighting capability. Lt Gen Jones added: “The Field Army must build on the strong foundation of the 3rd Division’s world class warfighting force. 1st Division provides specialist soldiers and equipment to develop other nations’ armies, deal with disaster and humanitarian crises worldwide and enable our warfighting division. 6th Division focuses on Cyber, Electronic Warfare, Intelligence, Information Operations and unconventional warfare through niche capabilities such as the Specialised Infantry Battalions. “The speed of change is moving at a remarkable rate and it will only get faster and more complex.” This change will be integrated within broader Defence, national and alliance efforts and enable the Field Army to operate and fight more effectively above and below the threshold of conflict.

The Field Army rebalancing is part of the Army’s response to the emerging Defence thinking and will create a Field Army of integrated, interdependent and complementary formations from 1 Aug 2019. 1st (United Kingdom) Division (1 (UK) Div) with its blend of lighter infantry, logistics, engineers and medics will provide more strategic choice and a range of capabilities, conducting capacity building, stabilisation operations, disaster relief and UK resilience operations. It will include: 4th (Infantry) Brigade, 7th (Infantry) Brigade, 11th (Infantry) Brigade, 51st (Infantry) Brigade, 8th Engineer Brigade, 102nd Logistic Brigade, 104th Logistic Brigade, 2nd Medical Brigade; 3rd (United Kingdom) Division (3 (UK) Div) will remain as the Army’s primary armoured warfighting force comprising: 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade, 12th Armoured Infantry Brigade, 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade, 1st Artillery Brigade, 101st Logistic Brigade, 25th Engineer Group, 7th Air Defence Group; 6th (United Kingdom) Division. The re-designation of Force Troops Command (FTC) to 6th (United Kingdom) Division (6 (UK) Div) will provide the Army’s asymmetric edge , orchestrating Intelligence, Counter-Intelligence, Information Operations, Electronic Warfare, Cyber and unconventional warfare. 6 (UK) Div will include: 1st Signal Brigade, 11th Signal Brigade, 1st Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade, 77th Brigade and the Specialist Infantry Group.

There will be no changes to personnel numbers, resourcing, cap badges or locations. 1st August marks the rebirth of a Division which served throughout the First World War and during the Second War. More recently, 6 (UK) Div was formed between 2008-2011 and deployed to Afghanistan as Headquarters Regional Command (South).

Analysis was provided by Philip Ingram MBE a former Colonel in the British Army and an Intelligence and planning expert. If you would like any further comment from Philip, please contact him by clicking HERE