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Consultation launched on the future of Britain's Reserve Forces

Measures to overhaul Britain's Reserve Forces to create a fully integrated Armed Forces were unveiled today as part of a wide-ranging consultation published by the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
A Rifles reservist serves alongside a regular Army colleague on operations in Helmand province

A Rifles reservist serves alongside a regular Army colleague on operations in Helmand province (library image) [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

The consultation, ‘Future Reserves 2020: Delivering the Nation’s Security Together’, proposes more training for reservists, a ‘kitemark-type’ award for supportive employers, and the idea of changing the Territorial Army’s name to reflect their enhanced role.

Under the proposals there will be a new relationship between reservists, employers and government, and a transparent approach whereby employers are given more certainty about the timing of possible mobilisations and more notice when they occur.

The measures will create a fully integrated force of regulars and reservists, using similar equipment and training together. It will mean that the Reserves not only provide individual augmentees to regular units, but also deploy as formed units and sub-units.

Members of the Royal Marines Reserve

Members of the Royal Marines Reserve received a rare opportunity to form the Guard at Edinburgh Castle recently [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Will Haigh, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

The number of trained Reserves will grow to around 35,000 across all three Services by 2020, aligning the mix of regular and reserve components with many of our closest allies.

The Army will see the biggest change, with 30,000 trained Reserves, creating a total land force of about 120,000. And the plans are backed by an extra £1.8bn in funding over the next ten years for new equipment, uniforms and training for the Reserves.

The consultation will also look at:

• increasing the number of days Army reservists are required to train from 35 to 40 days a year

• a change of name from Territorial Army to Army Reserve - better reflecting the future role and tasks

• encouraging more ex-regulars to become reservists - making it easier for them to transfer to the Reserves and developing incentives for them to do so.

The Defence Secretary said:

This transformation of the Reserves will see a radical shift in the way in which we use them, with units deployed as formed units or sub-units as well as delivering individual augmentees.

Increased training, better equipment and extra investment in our Reserves are all integral to our vision of a formidable, adaptable and flexible Armed Forces, with a reserve/regular balance more in line with our main allies.

This Government has committed £1.8bn to rebuilding our Reserves. The consultation I have launched today is about working with reservists, their families and employers to use that money to design the Reserve Forces of the future.

The Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Houghton, said:

Since 2003 there have been over 25,000 reservists mobilised, fighting alongside their regular counterparts. 29 have paid the ultimate price for their country and just this summer we saw 2,000 reservists provide a pivotal security role at the London 2012 Games.

In the future we will become even more reliant on our Reserves. But this increased reliance means that there are key issues that we have to tackle - like our relationship with employers and the notice period ahead of mobilisation - to get this right. I want to encourage everyone to get involved in this consultation and have their say.

The consultation will run until 18 January 2013 and following this we will publish a White Paper in Spring 2013 setting out this new relationship.

Published 8 November 2012