The Prime Minister commissioned the six-month review of the Reserve Forces, to be known as Future Reserves 2020 (FR20), as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).
FR20 will be a fundamental review of the Reserve Forces’ role and structure. The study will be organised in three phases and will announce its findings in summer 2011.
The Prime Minister commissioned the review to ensure that the MOD makes the most efficient use of reservist skills, experience and capabilities. Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (VCDS), General Sir Nicholas Houghton, will lead the review, supported by Julian Brazier, who has been appointed as his deputy.
At the first meeting of the steering group, discussions centred on establishing the scope, methodology and reporting timelines of the review.
VCDS outlined the need to explore the future role and structure of the Reserve Forces properly, ensuring that members take a holistic view of the Reserves and employ the same intellectual context that informed the SDSR.
The review will explore the role of the Reserves as part of the ‘Whole Force Concept’. The Whole Force Concept is a means to man a balanced force structure, comprising of Regular and Reserve personnel, contractors and civilians, optimised to meet Defence’s requirements.
FR20 will be organised into three phases. In Phase One, the study will develop a common understanding of the context in which Reserves will be used in future and define the strategic principles around which the balance between regular and non-regular manpower should be designed.
Phase Two will focus on Reserve Forces structures needed to complement the Regular Forces and meet operational requirements.
Later, in Phase Three, the study will develop a detailed concept and outline plan for the implementation of new single-Service Reserves’ structures.
General Houghton said:
The SDSR has provided the Regular Armed Forces with an opportunity to adapt, to ensure they are structured effectively to meet the UK’s security interests in the year 2020 and beyond.
Julian Brazier, the Member of Parliament for Canterbury and Whitstable, has direct experience of the Reserves, having served as a Territorial Army officer for thirteen years, six of them with Airborne Forces.
The Reserve Forces are an integral part of the UK’s defence capability, making a vital contribution to Defence. This has been demonstrated by over 24,000 reservist mobilisations since 2003 in support of current operations, which demonstrates a change in the way the UK uses its Reserve Forces.
Reserves are now more heavily integrated with their Regular counterparts than ever before, recognising that they are needed as much for routine augmentation as they are for high tempo operations at maximum effort.
FR20 aims to align the Reserves to new strategic defence policy, ensuring they are correctly structured, supported and resourced to meet the challenges of the future.
Reservists provide a multitude of specialist skills, which it would not be practical or cost-effective to maintain within the Regular Forces. Therefore, FR20 will aim to identify the correct regular/reservist balance within the context of the Whole Force Concept and in support of developing work on Future Force 2020 structures.