Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has announced that the Government accepts the broad thrust of the six recommendations made in the review of the United Kingdom's Reserve Forces published on 18 July 2011.
Reserve Forces are an essential and integral component of the UK’s Defence capability. In future they will have a greater role and will be more integrated with the regular component of the Armed Forces.
This requires an increase in size and change in the nature of the reserve role. This is an essential part of Transforming Defence and delivering Defence’s Vision for Future Force 2020.
Mr Hammond said:
To achieve the redesign of the Army required by Army 2020 will require us to expand the volunteer Army Reserve to 30,000 trained strength and better to integrate the regular and reserve components of the future Army.
Army 2020 has defined the Army Reserves’ role and we are establishing more predictable scales of commitment in the event that Reserves are committed to enduring operations. In the past, the Reserve was essentially designed to supplement the Regular Army; in future, the Reserve will be a vital part of an integrated Army.
The principle of greater integration was established in the [Future Reserves 2020] Commission’s report and, based on their findings, our concept for Army Reserves sees them ready and able to deploy routinely at sub-unit level and in some cases as formed units.
They will be trained, equipped and supported accordingly. Officers and soldiers will have command opportunities which have not always been available in the recent past.
The Defence Secretary said that recruiting reserves for all three Services had already begun:
The Army has started overseas reserve training exercises at company level (26 this year, and increasing in number significantly by 2015); we are putting in place routine partnered training of Army reserve and regular units, including for operational deployments.
More equipment is arriving in the form of modern support vehicles, the Wolf Land Rover and Bowman radios. We plan that, over time, the personal equipment of reservists will be on a par with that used by regulars.
An additional £1.8bn is being invested in the Reserve Forces over the next 10 years. The trained strength of the Reserves of all three Services will grow by 50 per cent or more by 2018 to 30,000 in the Territorial component of the Army Reserve, 3,100 in the Royal Naval and Royal Marines Reserves, and 1,800 in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.
Reservists will be expected to commit to specific amounts of training time and, for the Army in most cases, to accept a liability for up to six months’ deployed service, plus pre-deployment training, in a five-year period, dependent on operational demand.
For Maritime and Royal Air Force Reserves, routine mobilisation is expected to remain at similar levels to those currently experienced.
Mr Hammond said that delivering this step-change in the size and role of the Reserves will also require a change in the relationship between Defence, the employer and the reservist:
Many employers already give excellent support to reservists, for which we, and the nation, are grateful,” said the Defence Secretary.
But we need a new framework of partnership, with public and private sector employers, that gives us the confidence that trained reservist manpower will be available when it is really needed.
Mr Hammond said the scale of change needs the support of society as a whole and of employers in particular. It is therefore his intention to publish a consultation paper in the autumn setting out the detailed proposals.
Following consultation, the Ministry of Defence will be able to make informed decisions early next year on terms and conditions of service, employer engagement, the Government’s own commitments as an employer, and on any legislation necessary to underpin and support our vision for the Reserves.
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