Posts Tagged ‘territorial army’

The future of our reserve forces is vital for national security

09/11/2012, 07:00:17 AM

by Jim Murphy

Yesterday, the government announced a public consultation on the future of reservists.  We support an enhanced role for reserve forces as we know they can make a bigger contribution to regular forces and our country’s ability to project force around the world to achieve national ambitions.

In recent years reservists have operated in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, and most recently Libya. 29 have lost their lives. We pay tribute to their courage, which is a pertinent sentiment in this week of all weeks, remembrance week.

Labour welcomes much of the content of today’s announcement as we recognise that reservists need to modernise.  We support considering a symbolic name change from “territorial army” to “army reserve”, for example, to reflect their contemporary composition.

This government has announced extreme cuts in regular forces. 30,000 will be made redundant, with 20,000 from the Army and 5,000 from both Navy and RAF. Reserve numbers will be doubled to compensate. Reserve numbers, however, are going up by 15,000, a figure far smaller than those being lost so there is a capability shortfall in manpower the government have yet to adequately explain.

Furthermore, we have already heard from the consultation’s co-author, Julian Brazier MP, that there is a backlog of applicants who cannot sign up because the bureaucracy in place is inadequate.

In light of this, does it really make sense to cut in regulars regardless of whether the target for reserves is met or not?  Given that it is this government’s policy to rely on reservists to meet their defence ambitions, wouldn’t it make more sense to make the cut in regulars contingent upon growth in reserves’ capability?


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