Discuss Sign of the Times in Just TA on The Army Rumour Service; Having mused over the content of the TA Competitions Thread and glanced through the banter/competition regarding who were the first TA unit mobilised since Suez etc etc, I find myself drifting off into thoughts of ...
Having mused over the content of the TA Competitions Thread and glanced through the banter/competition regarding who were the first TA unit mobilised since Suez etc etc, I find myself drifting off into thoughts of how it used to be....Courage Trophy where TA units across London competed for fun and glory but in an atmostphere of half serious endeavour - if you won that was great but the point was to take part. TA units varied so much in training and ability (dependent on Corps, size and role) that the winners only ever came from a small group and the rest made up the numbers. These were happy days - turn up, meet some mates, compete with vigour and in good spirit, safe in the knowledge that unless you were in the Paras - who did this stuff for fun (?!) - then it was just a good and challenging weekend.
Fond memories but ones that now seem improbable - yet it happened.
MATT, DETAPOs, OAR, CMS, Officers Training proposals, increasing mobilisation, and rebalancing tendrils everywhere etc - we're becoming sanitised numbers - units of resource, trained across the board to a single standard with the Regulars in control.
Wingletang has a point. The key element of fun seems to slowly slipping below the waves.
The TA is becoming a conveyor belt, it has nothing to do with professionalism nor being the cadets for grownups, and all to do with just throwing blokes into the gaping maw of the regular army, while they in turn, turn the TA into regular army lite.
I only have experience of the 'modern' TA but this fact was explained to me very clearly, that we are the reserve of choice for the army, expect to be sent on ops. There were no walls put up, I was told this very plainly and simply.
i agree with what is being said that the TA is now regularly called up and has to be 'combat ready' to a certain degree and the older members of my unit agree that the emphasis has changed but that doesnt need to mean that the social side of things has to be lost.
My unit recently had a great night with meal, disco and we had an almost full compliment turn out for it - all willing to dig into their own pockets to help with the cost. I feel that as long as you are willing to put a bit of work in then you can have both sides of the coin.
OK, my original post was a little tongue in cheek.
The modern TA has to be a compromise.
On the one hand it must be able to, and probably will operate with the regular army. Therefore drills and skills must be good enough that the regulars accept them and casulaties are contained. Like it or loathe it, the army generally has a reason for doing things the way it does.
On the other, the system cannot forget that the TA are both volunteers and can and will leave once their motivation to serve has expired.
MSR summed it up nicely - things have changed and 307's response is interesting in that the new TA is all that he has known.
This is perhaps, albeit not overtly obvious, an area for Abacus. Maybe it's time to have a complete re-think about the reasons why people now join the TA and consequently, why they would stay. I believe that the incentives and drivers now are quite different to what they were 10 or even 5 years ago. It is no longer an alternative to the golf club - it is a much more serious business where going on "operations" is an inclusive element of being a member. Inevitably, this has an impact on the type and quantity of individuals who will be attracted to the organisation and by definition, weed out those that cannot commit. In time, the whole 'tone' of the TA will irrevocably alter and being in just for fun or doing something different won't be part of the deal. Retention, if focused on the real reasons for joining, might be more succesful - maybe more mobilisation not less for example?
Yes, of course you can have a booze-up every now and then but it's for a more narrow group of people - gone are the days of the "broad church of the TA"
Perhaps it is time to look at a Territorial Army - the 'Reserve of First Choice' and a Volunteer Reserve, which would include ex-regulars and be the 'reserve of final choice', with a lower commitment and able to pick up those who for whatever reason (work, family etc) have to put in fewer days.
I would suggest a 1 week camp and 6 weekends throughout the year.