Armistice Day

Posted: 16th Nov 2020

Armistice Day – reflections on the military's outstanding service, past, present, and future by former Air Marshal, Sir Baz North and Lee Holloway, CEO of the Officers’ Association.

For the first time in 100 years, there will be no gathering at the Cenotaph to mark Armistice Day this November. We will still remember the sacrifices of all those that fell during both world wars, and those from more recent conflicts, but it will be rather different.

Another first this year has been that younger generations have seen our Armed Forces in action, in their hometowns and cities across the UK, as the 20,000 strong Covid Support Force has built hospitals, set-up and run testing stations and transported urgently needed PPE to the NHS front-line.

As we struggle to adjust to the shifting sands of our new normal an interesting recruitment phenomenon is also occurring.

Although rising job losses will continue to dominate the headlines in the weeks and months ahead as eye-watering unemployment numbers become worryingly familiar, for those businesses that are adapting and recruiting, the abilities of former military service personnel are cutting through.

When you have a crisis of uncertainty like the Coronavirus pandemic, that arrived at great speed and now affects every walk of life, paralysis can impact even the smallest decisions.

For businesses of every sector and size, each day has brought fresh challenges. Firms soon began to recognise the importance of resilience and the need for teams to be led by people of sound judgement and character, able to make decisions and create a structure based on incomplete and uncertain information.

Former military personnel who have made the transition to civilian employment, have distinguished themselves as problem solvers, agile, diverse in thought and able to motivate others despite the uncertainty, yet still able to make the tough judgement calls, when necessary. Even if it means passing on difficult messages to the boardroom.

No-one has a crystal ball but the ability to anticipate different outcomes and make tough decisions quickly as the implications of a crisis unfolds is second nature to former officers.

From manufacturing, infrastructure, and logistics through to cyber, professional, and financial services, the intelligence coming back from employers is the same.

Former serving officers are delivering results and making an impact across a wide range of commercial settings. Their resilience, sound judgement and ability to “get things done”, as described by the Boston Consulting Group or as cyber security specialists Marclays, put it “they are simply problem solvers par excellence”.

Just as the Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Johnny Mercer recently observed, “business support for our Armed Forces continues to grow”, with more and more, “business leaders, understanding how a military background can be a valuable asset”. Good news may be in short supply right now, but this bodes well for all our futures as we get better at living, working, and doing business in this new normal.

It is also a source of immense pride for the armed forces and the Officers’ Association, which is committed to providing life-long employment services for serving and former officers.

As we mark this year's Armistice Day, let us reflect on the military’s outstanding service, past, present and what may be possible in the future.

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