TFCO MAJOR SITREP/21 - January 23 - Let's talk about our structure - Comms Center - UNITAF



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TFCO MAJOR SITREP/21 - January 23 - Let's talk about our structure

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Maj

Major James


UNISTAFF
Commanding Officer
UNITAF

Audio Version:



 

Foreword

The New Year and the Annual Survey always prove to be a great time for reflection and for looking ahead and this year has been no different. Alongside the Staff and Officers, I've spent a good portion of December and January looking at our structure as an organisation, primarily with the aim of addressing some unintended consequences and inefficiencies which have cropped up over the years. Our structure till now and the people in it has undoubtably been a huge part of our success as an organisation, so when looking to make changes I approach the subject with due caution, but with the aim of even greater progress, which I know we are capable of.

While we've made many changes during my tenure, the primary structure of the unit has remained the same and although the people in it have cycled many times (which can be both a sign of success and of the opposite). Growth has continued exponentially and now seems like the right time to introduce some changes as we look to the future, ultimately to Arma 4 and prepare to turbocharge many of the units core functions to unblock some of the areas which are stuck development wise and unlock the full potential we have.

What I'd like to do here in this update and later this week in a special TAFFCAST Episode, as briefly as I can is to give you a general idea what I'd like to achieve over the coming days, weeks and months, what it might look like and why.

I appreciate that some of you reading may not care too much about how we structure things outside of throwing lead downrange, but these changes indirectly effect everyone, so it's important that they are communicated, but if that's you, sorry for the long update!

Major James
Commanding Officer
United Task Force

 


 

Introduction

When I talk about our structure I'm mostly talking about where we put the power and responsibility for managing and enforcing the units core functions and policies, this as I'm sure you know has traditionally been the responsibility of our NCOs and Officers and collectively our Troops. 

Troops are currently the major structure that makes up UNITAF and the seniority of the NCOs and Officers in those Troops are the key people who advise me, enforce policy, and manage most of UNITAFs core functions. They are selected primarily for this purpose, but as some of you may know there are a myriad of requirements for joining the ORGCOC which have over the years been the culprit of a few casualties in the administration, but also a barrier to some great candidates joining it. In part, my approach below is to create a greater separation between those requirements to unlock some of the hidden talent we have.

Something else that I hope you will notice is a greater direction of more openness to involve everyone, regardless of position in contributing to the units core functions and a few extra checks and balances to turbo-charge our efforts in all areas, this is a key part of any improvements to our structure as resourcing has always been our biggest challenge.

 

Disclaimer - this update is a indication of future change, nothing communicated in this update is effective immediately or introduces any immediate change. Any change arising from updates communicated here will be issued at the time they become effective with full details.

 


 

The future of our in-game Leadership (OPCOC)

Currently we draw a direct link between our in-game and out-of-game leadership;

  • Operational Chain of Command (OPCOC) - our in-game Field Leaders, Platoon, Squad and Team Leaders on any given deployment
  • Organisational Chain of Command (ORGCOC) - our organisational administration, Section and Troop and HQ Staff

Partly what we must recognise here is that while for some people there is certainly overlap - these are different skill sets.

Most positions of leadership on the battlefield have been restricted to a small group of people based primarily on their rank as members of the ORGCOC. In recent years you will have seen us lighten this policy firstly with Junior Team Leaders and more recently with Fireteam Leaders. It is also a requirement for members of the ORGCOC to be active in OPCOC and while this policy has its reasons for existence it has also created a number of unintended consequences, for example;

  • We have some talented OPCOC who are not actively in the ORGCOC (either through choice or otherwise)
  • We have some talented ORGCOC candidates who aren't interested in OPCOC
  • Members of the senior ORGCOC, primarily in OPCOC positions not spending as much time in other roles, or with non-ORGCOC members (which can result in Leadership burnout, post neglect or distancing from the wider roster)

To really solve this, we will begin moving in a direction of separating the ORGCOC and OPCOC relationship completely and eventually all OPCOC leadership will be graded on-merit externally to any involvement in the ORGCOC. A key part of this change and its management will be in the grading, setting and upholding standards for the quality of our OPCOC and that will be a big part of details we issue when this update arrives. This will start soon, firstly for Squad Leaders and in due course the more senior OPCOC positions. This is a much wider topic which delves into our Tiers 2.0 and other quality plans I outlined in my recent update.

When this change happens, we will announce in more detail about how we will be grading our OPCOC leaders (this is something we're going to do publicly with Game Masters too), to commit to and ensure quality leadership for our operations in the future. Once any changes are made, you'll be able to see published lists of all our graded leadership and game masters for ease of scheduling.

 


 
 
The future of our organisational Leadership (ORGCOC)
 

As we begin to remove the OPCOC leadership requirement from our administration in the ORGCOC the role of our ORGCOC will change too; to focus more on the organisations core functions - of which OPCOC leadership is a very small but important part of the daily effort. It may surprise you to learn that not all of our ORGCOC are involved in the unit's core functions outside of personnel administration, which is the primary function of the Troops.

As we've grown the overhead of delivering tens of thousands of hours of gameplay per year and the associated training, development and policy has increased beyond what was possible for such as small staff team and you will have seen the introduction of the Headquarters roster for contribution chains and we've seen great successes with many of the J-Groups, of which J1, J3 and J6 deserve special mention. These groups of contributors take on the workload of the core functions such as loadouts, servers, operations, recruitment and so on. Until now, we have not made it a requirement of members of the ORGCOC to partake in J-Groups, as they have been seen as secondary position to being part of Troop staff.

I believe that the key to turbo-charging our efforts in the coming years is going to be changing our focus fully to put our J-Groups at the center of UNITAF and getting as many of you as possible involved with them as possible and as a command structure we need to give them power to deliver too. We also need to ensure that there is synergy across all groups to deliver in line with the units goals and policy.

This is not something which I can enforce properly without structure change and confusion, as we already have a Chain of Command based on Troops, so to do this properly - we need to move away from the Personnel Administration (Troop) focussed ORGCOC structure to a J-Group focused ORGCOC structure - changing the relationship with seniority in UNITAF to be wholly focussed on the management of our core functions.

 

Below: UNITAFs traditional personnel focussed ORGCOC, every member in the task force belongs to a Troop and the Troop and Section Staff become members of the ORGCOC (Organisational Chain of Command) where seniority is based on position within the Troop and many other factors.

 

Below: UNITAFs more recently introduced J-Group contributory structure, part of the Headquarters Support Staff, of which some but not all ORGCOC are rostered and many enlisted members too.

 

While these two rosters have coexisted for over 12 months now the growing influence and success of the J-Groups shows us what the potential of really leaning into this structure could do for UNITAF and so we're going to be re-focussing the ORGCOC as a body to become the management of J-Groups, rather than Troops as they are now.

I'm sure that raises the question; If we don't have Troops how will the personnel administration work? - and who will the senior staff be? so let's look into that in more detail.

 

Replacing the Troop system

When I started UNITAF back in 2019 we had one troop; actually, one section at the time and so it was only natural as we outgrew it due to the shear growth of the unit and the resulting workload that we eventually added 3 more. What the Troops have done so well for UNITAF is distributed the effort of keeping the complex machine moving forward and restricting information flow to those who need to know, mostly for our own sanity. They have also cultivated personal relationships between each administration and those assigned to it, which has benefited the unit to no end.

One thing I've heard from speaking to many of you and through the survey is that keeping the way we enforce policies consistent requires oversight that I don't think is easily possible in our current decentralised system, which is in part specifically structured to limit information flow. Some of these things are minor like how quickly your promotion or medal gets processed, but some are indeed more serious. Consistency is important and it's my responsibility to ensure that when we say we're going to do something in a certain way that everyone, regardless of position is held to that same standard.

Replacing the Troops, who handle all personnel administration across the entire task force is no mean feat. In doing any change it's important to keep what works well and iterate on what could be better. What could be better is partially centralising this workload so that personnel administration is still done by our NCOs but overseen by a dedicated body to ensure consistency and to provide a backup and secondary option when things go wrong, this body acts much like Troop Command does now, but instead of having 3 seperate Troop Commands, it's one.

Coupled with the focus on J-Groups means that we're going to be taking steps to dissolve our Troops completely in their current form (in due course, don't panic!). For the ORGCOC this means that instead of holding positions in Troops, members of the ORGCOC will instead be selected for management positions in J-Groups.

 

A new ORGCOC

To really understand this direction you need to forget anything you know about what the ORGCOC currently is and really imagine it being replaced from the ground up with something completely different. While that is not in practice what will happen, and anywhere near as dramatic as it sounds it is a better starting point for the consumption of what follows.

So what might a new ORGCOC look like you might ask?

Well, following a ORGCOC all-hands meeting earlier this month I'm able to share with you exactly what it will look like (subject to any changes) and hopefully this graphic below (which if you click on it you can open in full screen) will outline how UNITAF will function in the future. This system has been designed in consultation with members past and present across UNITAF and it's designed specifically so that everyone in the unit knows where to go, whether it be to get help with something, or to help contribute, and importantly, to ensure seniority and the chain of command (and resulting communication) is based on core functions.

 

Below: UNITAFs new Chain of Command
Important: All of the key information is contained within the image linked below, it's important to understand the changes that you open the image and view it fully.

 


The Who

What happens to the current ORGCOC?

I've been consulting closely with the current administration to understand where they see themselves in a potential restructure and indeed many of the ORGCOC are already deeply involved in core functions outside of Troops. But as part of any restructure I will be re-appointing everyone in the administration to new posts based on merit and based on their interests in those core functions.

This means the selection criteria we use for members of the administration will change too as we look for the best people possible in each of our core functions and different skillsets and personalities are required in each. This is something you will have noticed in the last year or so too - as we started to allow enlisted members to lead in-game we saw members of the ORGCOC step down who only joined the ORGCOC because that's what you needed to do to lead.

We expect similar movements as we continue to separate OPCOC and ORGCOC and in the ORGCOC we'll select based on core area management requirements. This means there will be chances to join the new ORGCOC for those not currently involved in the administration, more details about that at the end of this update.

 

So what does this mean for you?

I want to ensure that all members still have an NCO whom is assigned to you so you have that personal touch and direct contact within the units command, but in the future this will be more flexible and something you can more easily request to change if it makes sense to do so. But what's new is you'll also have this structure detailed in the link above which serves to support all members of UNITAF. There are dedicated groups for all core functions, and so while you have your dedicated NCO, there are direct avenues for you to take in the chain of command depending on what you are trying to do. 

 

The key approaches of the new ORGCOC are that;
 

  • Anyone in the unit can approach a J-Group they wish to support and the NCOs managing it should encourage unit-wide support
     
  • NCOs commanding J-Groups
    • have the obligation of carrying out it’s activities within the units SOP and in line with the strategy or direction of it’s group command
    • work with command units to further develop direction by feeding back ideas for structural change or command approval for anything not considered an approved activity
 

If you want to get involved with our core functions, with this structure we will begin movements to make that easier and more rewarding. In a way, this restructuring is designed to ensure that we are structured in the way in which is more conducive to getting things done. You don't need to be in the ORGCOC to get involved, that is for most core functions (those green in the structure) something we all can do. The ORGCOC serves to manage the effort and ensure we're all operating in the intended way.

 

Enforcing and monitoring

Another major function of the standing ORGCOC is their ability to submit reports or observations of policy violations, in the future we will start to make these tools available to everyone, this is so that everyone is treated equally - and the way that we handle these reports will be made clearer too.
  • Anyone in the unit will eventually be able to submit dossier observations of other members
  • Personnel Command will track observations and recommend or take the appropriate action
  • Appeals processes will be introduced to allow members to appeal a decision of Personnel Command
  • Instructors for our practices, regardless of rank will be able to assist with verifying other instructors, conducting practices and handling compliance issues in their respective subject areas

 


 

Summary and expectations

What I hope to achieve in the long term from this restructuring is as follows;

  • Higher quality leadership, both in and out of game by treating them in isolation and by merit
  • Higher levels of contribution and engagement from all members through turbocharging our J-Groups, delegation and more open contribution channels
  • Improved trust in the ORCOC through flattening the structure and adding checks and balances, specifically in the way we handle Personnel Administration, through Appeals processes and a dedicated Group under Personnel Command.
  • Reduced burnout for hybrid OPCOC/ORGCOC members by removing OPCOC requirements from their positions in favor of J-Group management and widening the pool of OPCOC leadership

 


 

Timeline and getting involved

As I'm sure you'll appreciate these are big changes for UNITAF and they won't happen overnight. But everything you've seen here is underway as part of other roadmapped plans and so the purpose of sharing it with you is so that you're not caught off guard when those specific updates land. Consider it an update on our direction of travel.

In realistic terms I expect most of the major restructuring to be complete within weeks, with some of the more nuances over the following months as this is a process which started on the 4th of January.

Obviously as I'm sure you will have noted, there is ample opportunity now to get involved with UNITAFs core functions in a way we've not advertised before, so you can now submit a Submission of Interest into our key functions and we'll be reviewing those over the next two weeks. You can express whether you are interested in being a contributor (as a regular member) or joining the management (ORGCOC) of one of the J-Groups, or just let us know that your not interested if that is the case.

Over the coming weeks selections will commence as we re-appoint the administration from the top-down based on their submissions of interest and while this process is ongoing, the standing Chain of Command will continue as charged.

 

Questions?

There are a lot of specifics we will communicate and decide as these changes happen, when they happen. However if you do have any burninng questions about anything in this Update, you can submit them via any Discord channel using the /ask command and it will be answered at the next special edition of TAFFCAST which will take place this Wednesday 18th January from 1900 UTC to 2000 UTC.

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