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Probe of soldier's suicide reveals hazing, harassment, fight club at Wpg armoury

FormerHorseGuard

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sitting back and out of service for over 20 years but reading the news story and only knowing what I read. so this is just my opinion, not that it matters but, I am entitled to it.

I feel bad a soldier lost his life,  I know what is like to be bullied by fellow soldiers.

I feel that the biggest failure here was the command staff and the chain of command

if an officer knew about "fight club" and did nothing but ask about the out come, that officer should be removed from any sort of position and sent for retraining or pushed out the door and told he or she is fired.

former RSM saying office door always open, sounds great but hard to knock on door and walk in and spill it. the bullies always find out.

I was corporal, and know what it is like to be one, have a position but no authority  to do anything. still no excuse not to step up in a case like this.

I think the CO and the RSM  failed, if a Jr officer knows something , they should know , after all they are training the Jr officers to be leaders.
same goes for SNR NCOs they shoukd of done something to stop it.
I think more will come out in the wash of this tragedy and I hope some lessons learned, and applied in the future.
 

dapaterson

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The family of the late MCpl Caribou have launched a suit against the federal government, alleging negligence and discrimination.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/nolan-caribou-family-lawsuit-1.5368027
 

observor 69

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I know of a situation similar to this one. I later found out that the Snr. NCO's in the chain of command said that the parties involved should have just "worked it out."
The victim of the bullying was pushed to the point of phycological illness due to the stress.
How could similar situations be better handled?
 

daftandbarmy

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Baden Guy said:
I know of a situation similar to this one. I later found out that the Snr. NCO's in the chain of command said that the parties involved should have just "worked it out."
The victim of the bullying was pushed to the point of phycological illness due to the stress.
How could similar situations be better handled?

For want of a better term, some good old 'Managing by Walking Around'.

When senior leaders spend all their time making PowerPoint slides, versus engaging with the soldiers, things tend to go sideways in one way or another....
 

FJAG

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daftandbarmy said:
For want of a better term, some good old 'Managing by Walking Around'.

When senior leaders spend all their time making PowerPoint slides, versus engaging with the soldiers, things tend to go sideways in one way or another....

Sadly, "Managing by walking around" was not a technique taught to me as a junior officer in the 70s and one I never observed happening around me during my years in the regular force. I only encountered the term just before leaving the regular force in 81 but then applied it when I was company commander of HQ company at Dundurn during the annual trade school there where my CSM and I randomly walked around the various platoons and sections while they were doing their jobs. We solved the vast majority of issues right there on the spot.

I liked the process so much that when I became a District Legal Advisor, I adopted a "legal services by walking around" process whereby every week on parade nights, I visited the Adjt and RSM of a different unit or two just for coffee and a chat. Same thing. Issues were solved before needing to be committed to paper or a phone call. Sometimes problems were solved that the unit hadn't even recognized as a problem.

IMHO, education in "MBWA" should be part of every officer's training and every unit should ensure officers have sufficient time available to practice it regularly.

:cheers:
 

daftandbarmy

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FJAG said:
I visited the Adjt and RSM of a different unit or two just for coffee and a chat.

:nod:

The more senior we get in rank, the more important are these two tools in our leadership toolboxes.



 

Navy_Pete

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That's one thing that really gets lost in the shuffle with the various matrixed projects working in different locations, and the freeze on traveling. A huge amount of things get sorted out over coffee, and not at the actual meetings, so there are some things you just can't do via teleconf.
 

CountDC

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How many CWO does the unit have?  I have only ever seen one at the reserve units and that would be the RSM.

eligible for promotion in Aug 2015.  He joined in 2012 and just promoted to Pte(T).  From that I lean towards he had just completed his trade training and expected to be promoted immediately to Cpl.  Although this does happen a lot it is not a mandatory thing. There is the CoC recommendation to promote or not promote.  Some units (most likely very few) that will require a period of observation as a trained pte prior to promote to Cpl.  Last reserve location I worked the promotion policy stated that a period of observation to confirm functionality was mandatory.  Was that checked for? 

Vandalized Locker - A report to his superiors would not generate anything to be put in his file (assume they are referring to his pers file).  That should be in the harassment file that should have been created usually by the Chief HRA and/or Adjt.  I think pictures should have been taken and then the locker cleaned up.  Do have to wonder why it took so long.

Summer job as "camp leader" ?  What is that and how did they determine he was well qualified for it?  Is that their assumption or do they have an actual assessment from the hiring agents stating it.  Unfortunately often mbrs don't receive responses to positions they apply for.  Look at REO's and more often now they are stating only suitable candidates will be notified. 

In the end no excuse for a harassment to be ignored if reported and observed which looks like that was the case by the action taken.  Be interesting to see the information that comes out as the case progresses and hopefully get answers to questions. 
 

daftandbarmy

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CountDC said:
How many CWO does the unit have?  I have only ever seen one at the reserve units and that would be the RSM.

eligible for promotion in Aug 2015.  He joined in 2012 and just promoted to Pte(T).  From that I lean towards he had just completed his trade training and expected to be promoted immediately to Cpl.  Although this does happen a lot it is not a mandatory thing. There is the CoC recommendation to promote or not promote.  Some units (most likely very few) that will require a period of observation as a trained pte prior to promote to Cpl.  Last reserve location I worked the promotion policy stated that a period of observation to confirm functionality was mandatory.  Was that checked for? 

Vandalized Locker - A report to his superiors would not generate anything to be put in his file (assume they are referring to his pers file).  That should be in the harassment file that should have been created usually by the Chief HRA and/or Adjt.  I think pictures should have been taken and then the locker cleaned up.  Do have to wonder why it took so long.

Summer job as "camp leader" ?  What is that and how did they determine he was well qualified for it?  Is that their assumption or do they have an actual assessment from the hiring agents stating it.  Unfortunately often mbrs don't receive responses to positions they apply for.  Look at REO's and more often now they are stating only suitable candidates will be notified. 

In the end no excuse for a harassment to be ignored if reported and observed which looks like that was the case by the action taken.  Be interesting to see the information that comes out as the case progresses and hopefully get answers to questions.

I have no knowledge of this particular situation, but one big issue I've always had is that the realities of Class A service mean that leaders can go for weeks without laying eyes on, or speaking to, some of their troops. Not everyone can make it to every parade night and training event, all the time. Many don't communicate by email or social media. Some are loners and don't connect with their peers.

This makes the informal information hotline, or 'jungle telegraph, even more important to communicate issues as and when they occur.

It breaks down fully when the victims can't, or don't, parade, engage or otherwise communicate issues for various reasons.

 

Edward Campbell

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FJAG said:
Sadly, "Managing by walking around" was not a technique taught to me as a junior officer in the 70s and one I never observed happening around me during my years in the regular force. I only encountered the term just before leaving the regular force in 81 but then applied it when I was company commander of HQ company at Dundurn during the annual trade school there where my CSM and I randomly walked around the various platoons and sections while they were doing their jobs. We solved the vast majority of issues right there on the spot.


I had exactly the reverse experience as a soldier, NCO and officer in the 1960s. Management by wandering about was almost the norm ... we expected to see the CO and OCs almost everywhere and anywhere ~ sometimes just looking, more often than not stopping, asking questions, maybe just chatting. Senior NCOs were busy doing both administration and planning. My memory says that colonels expected to see subalterns in coveralls, inspecting vehicles and equipment ~ understanding how weapons and APCs actually worked, for example. When the infantry became mechanized some units adopted the RCAC habit of "stables parade." That works, too.

My sense, no proof, just bar chat at reunions and so on, is that modern COs are overloaded with administrivia from too many HQs ~ stuff that, in my days in command, late 1970s and early '80s, would never have been allowed to leave Mobile Comand HQ.

"Fight clubs' have been around for a looooong time ... they were fairly open in the 1960s, every unit had a boxing team until about 1966 or '67 and there were active sub-unit programmes that aimed to "foster" fighting spirit and produce regimental level boxers. We also had unarmed combat programmes that often got pretty aggressive. This was, usually, all overseen by Physical Training Instructors; sometimes the unit MO didn't approve, sometimes he did. The thing was that the institutional Arny, from the top down, "liked" rough, tough physical activity. There was a lot of angst when (mid to late '60s) boxing was done away with. Some people thought that was a serious mistake. There had, in my experience, always been some (maybe too much) tolerance of "rough and tumble," including settling disputes with fists.

Just some personal observations ...



 

LittleBlackDevil

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I remember reading about this when it first happened, then sort of lost track of it ... very sad and disconcerting to read about this. Especially so since it involved my old regiment.

I was an officer with the R Wpg Rif in the late 90s into the early 2000s. I had no inkling of anything like this going on when I was there, but I can't say that doesn't mean it wasn't happening. I'll admit, coming out of my phase training I had absolutely zero clue about leading/managing when in garrison. I was taught absolutely nothing about that in Gagetown, we were only taught how to command in the field. I could command a platoon in the field competently but looking back I was not a leader at the armouries.

Aside from doing some power point presentations, the only contact I had with my troops was when I interviewed everyone in the platoon when I first was assigned. Otherwise I just let my platoon 2IC run the show. I make no excuses for this -- it's on me that I didn't ask questions or take more initiative rather than sitting around thinking I didn't know what I was doing. At 19/20 I was probably also too young and stupid for the job.

Not sure if this is still the case with the unit and infantry officer training.

Anyway, I found the conversation about "Management by wandering around" informative. It definitely didn't happen by any of the officers as far as I can recall when I was with the Rifles. I was a rifleman for about six months before I was made an OCDT and I don't remember ever encountering an officer during that time period.
 

daftandbarmy

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LittleBlackDevil said:
I remember reading about this when it first happened, then sort of lost track of it ... very sad and disconcerting to read about this. Especially so since it involved my old regiment.

I was an officer with the R Wpg Rif in the late 90s into the early 2000s. I had no inkling of anything like this going on when I was there, but I can't say that doesn't mean it wasn't happening. I'll admit, coming out of my phase training I had absolutely zero clue about leading/managing when in garrison. I was taught absolutely nothing about that in Gagetown, we were only taught how to command in the field. I could command a platoon in the field competently but looking back I was not a leader at the armouries.

Aside from doing some power point presentations, the only contact I had with my troops was when I interviewed everyone in the platoon when I first was assigned. Otherwise I just let my platoon 2IC run the show. I make no excuses for this -- it's on me that I didn't ask questions or take more initiative rather than sitting around thinking I didn't know what I was doing. At 19/20 I was probably also too young and stupid for the job.

Not sure if this is still the case with the unit and infantry officer training.

Anyway, I found the conversation about "Management by wandering around" informative. It definitely didn't happen by any of the officers as far as I can recall when I was with the Rifles. I was a rifleman for about six months before I was made an OCDT and I don't remember ever encountering an officer during that time period.

A great observation.... and well done for leading those interviews, not many do.

Kip Kirby made the famous observation that, in the Canadian Army, every Officer carries a Sergeant Major's pace stick in their knapsack. I believe that we are under the spell of the 'cult of the Warrant Officer.'

It goes like this: all Officers are 'stupid' (the more junior they are the dumber they are) and need to do what their much smarter and more experienced Warrant Officers tell them to do while staying out of the way, not sticking their noses in, and not asking dumb questions.

This cult is reinforced during Phase training where most of the Officer training is, ironically, not conducted by Officers. Most of the time, the Warrant Officers who conduct this training make sure that the OCdts know they are 'lower than whale sh*t', as one of my platoon staff at Gagetown reminded us regularly with great relish. As a result, Officers aren't really trained to deal with garrison based personnel issues because, as you note, that's all supposed to be handled by the Warrant Officers. Unchecked, this paradigm can result in a lack of objective command and control activity that can reveal and squash the usual range of bullying and harassment that might occur when there are 'bad apples' in the mix. There is no 'fault finding' to be done here, it's just the way we have evolved.

I am guilty of a variety of massive and unfair generalizations here, of course, but it's a prevailing culture that's hard to break out of. Managing by 'wandering around' (MBWA) is one way to cut through those bonds of culture.

The Effectiveness of Management-By-Walking-Around: A Randomized Field Study
Research has found that quality improvement programs that solicit frontline workers’ ideas, such as
MBWA, can have a beneficial impact on organizational outcomes (Dow et al. 1999, Powell 1995).
MBWA relies on managers to make frequent, learning-oriented visits to their organization’s
frontlines to observe work and solicit employees’ opinions (Packard 1995). Hewlett-Packard, the
company in which MBWA originated, attributed its success using MBWA to good listening skills,
willing participation, a belief that every job is important and every employee is trustworthy, and a
culture where employees felt comfortable raising concerns (Packard 1995). MBWA is similar to the
Toyota Production System’s “gemba walks” (Mann 2009, Toussaint et al. 2010, Womack 2011). In a
gemba walk, managers go to the location where work is performed, observe the process, and to talk
with the employees (Mann 2009). The purpose is to see problems in context, which aids problem
solution (Mann 2009, Toussaint et al. 2010, Womack 2011).

http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/12-113_9a2bc5e8-2f70-4288-bb88-aeb2de49e955.pdf




 

Remius

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This sort of thing hit me a couple of years ago.

I noticed one of the platoons not doing anything an milling about at the beginning of the training night.  I couldn't find the PL WO so I asked the Platoon commander what his troops were supposed to be doing and his answer was "I'm not sure, my Platoon WO hasn't arrived yet" 

We had a brief conversation about who is actually supposed to be leading...
 

Blackadder1916

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LittleBlackDevil said:
Anyway, I found the conversation about "Management by wandering around" informative. It definitely didn't happen by any of the officers as far as I can recall when I was with the Rifles. I was a rifleman for about six months before I was made an OCDT and I don't remember ever encountering an officer during that time period.


Individual techniques may vary resulting in different outcomes.


dilbert.png

 

daftandbarmy

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Remius said:
This sort of thing hit me a couple of years ago.

I noticed one of the platoons not doing anything an milling about at the beginning of the training night.  I couldn't find the PL WO so I asked the Platoon commander what his troops were supposed to be doing and his answer was "I'm not sure, my Platoon WO hasn't arrived yet" 

We had a brief conversation about who is actually supposed to be leading...

Nice one!  :rofl:
 

Kat Stevens

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I found, watching from the fences as a lowly spr/cpl in the 80s & 90s, that there was a huge mistrust of NCOs from the officer corps. This undoubtedly came from the training system that, as noted above, was all conducted by Non Commissioned ranks. Particularly in the 80s, we never saw an officer except on parade. Hell, they even did PT by themselves, of course, they also got to eat off Royal Doulton place settings in the field. 
 

daftandbarmy

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Target Up said:
I found, watching from the fences as a lowly spr/cpl in the 80s & 90s, that there was a huge mistrust of NCOs from the officer corps. This undoubtedly came from the training system that, as noted above, was all conducted by Non Commissioned ranks. Particularly in the 80s, we never saw an officer except on parade. Hell, they even did PT by themselves, of course, they also got to eat off Royal Doulton place settings in the field.

OK, that's just weird. Especially for Canadians....
 

FJAG

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daftandbarmy said:
.... I believe that we are under the spell of the 'cult of the Warrant Officer.'

It goes like this: all Officers are 'stupid' (the more junior they are the dumber they are) and need to do what their much smarter and more experienced Warrant Officers tell them to do while staying out of the way, not sticking their noses in, and not asking dumb questions.

This cult is reinforced during Phase training where most of the Officer training is, ironically, not conducted by Officers. Most of the time, the Warrant Officers who conduct this training make sure that the OCdts know they are 'lower than whale ****', as one of my platoon staff at Gagetown reminded us regularly with great relish. As a result, Officers aren't really trained to deal with garrison based personnel issues because, as you note, that's all supposed to be handled by the Warrant Officers. Unchecked, this paradigm can result in a lack of objective command and control activity that can reveal and squash the usual range of bullying and harassment that might occur when there are 'bad apples' in the mix. There is no 'fault finding' to be done here, it's just the way we have evolved.

I am guilty of a variety of massive and unfair generalizations here, of course, but it's a prevailing culture that's hard to break out of. Managing by 'wandering around' (MBWA) is one way to cut through those bonds of culture.
...

You're bang on with this. As an officer cadet in the artillery my instructors were one captain instructor-in-gunnery and a warrant and two sergeant assistant instructors-in-gunnery. Most of our instruction came from the NCOs. This is very good for learning all the technical aspects of the job but, like others experiences, ends up being short on teaching basic leadership. While our AIGs treated us more like officers and gentlemen rather than scum, the fact is one still gets the feeling as a junior officer that one is getting in the way of things when trying to assert oneself.

I noticed a particular problem in the late seventies/early eighties just before I left the Reg F. At that time we'd had a solid decade of downsizing. As a result we had a long-term freeze on recruiting and the vast majority of our gunners were bombardiers with over a decade or two of time in rank who had done the same training over and over and over again. In the mid seventies recruiting started up again and suddenly we found ourselves with hundreds of young gunners and dozens of young lieutenants all raring to go but in between them stood a group of older, long in the tooth, and, quite frankly, bored and tired Snr NCOs who were generally resistant to challenging or innovative training. That was tough to work through.

:cheers:
 

Furniture

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So the key take away is that SNCOs are the problem, and officers are helpless victims?

Except that the entire system is designed, and run by officers. SNCOs exercise the authority granted them by their betters, so perhaps the officer corps should be looking inward before casting blame outward.

The unfortunate situation that started this thread was a failure of leadership at all levels, from Cpls all the way to the CO.

Also, even as a weather guy newly promoted to Cpl back in 2004 I knew about "MBWA". It's not some deep dark secret, it had been rather well articulated even down to the Cpl level by at least '04 when I put up my second hook.


 
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