Reservists to boost Iraq forces
A total of 900 more Armed Forces reservists are to be drafted in to serve in Iraq, Defence Minister Ivor Caplin has announced.
The deployment will boost the number of part-time servicemen and women serving there from 750 to 1,000 by next May.
They will be deployed from April 2005 onwards, Mr Caplin said in a written answer in the House of Commons.
Many reservists called up compulsorily to fight a war against Iraq are asking to be exempted because they face the sack if they do go, defence sources said yesterday.
Others who have only been asked if they would be willing to volunteer for future call-ups have refused to come forward unless it is compulsory, in an attempt to protect themselves from possible dismissal.
"A lot of the employers of those called up are seriously unimpressed," one source said.
"It's throwing up a lot of anomalies. There is so little on the statute book that protects either employers or indeed employees."
The problems are such that the Ministry of Defence took out a series of newspaper advertisements this week offering "essential information for employers of reservists" in an attempt to make them aware of their responsibilities.
Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, announced last week that 1,500 reservists were being mobilised, with further tranches to follow over the coming weeks. The total number is expected to be about 8,000.
Under the Reserve Forces Safeguard of Employment Act 1985 employers are obliged to keep a reservist's job open, but it is difficult to enforce.
One Royal Auxiliary Air Force officer called up for service during the Kosovo conflict was sacked from his Â£75,000-a-year post with the merchant bank Credit Suisse First Boston.
Sebastian Nokes, 35, from London, was forced to take his employers to an industrial tribunal in an attempt to be reinstated, but eventually settled the dispute and withdrew his complaint.
There are also concerns among some servicemen and women because the compensation for loss of salary is based on their service rank rather than the loss of pay.
The maximum any serviceman or woman up to the rank of corporal or equivalent can receive is Â£22,500, regardless of his or her civilian job. That increases according to rank, with warrant officers receiving up to Â£37,500, majors up to Â£55,000 and colonels up to Â£70,000.
Many lower ranks earn far more in their civilian jobs than they receive during their period of mobilisation.
With any reservist called up for Iraq obliged to serve as long as a year, many will face difficulty keeping up mortgage repayments.
"There is immense gloom among many of the reservists," one defence source said. "It's not because they don't want to go to war, it's because they are scared they will lose their job or even their home."
Sabre, the MoD organisation set up to provide support to employers and reservists, said Mr Nokes's case was "untypical". It was "very much the exception that an employee has to go to a tribunal to get his job back".
But if a reservist was dismissed for absence caused by his or her mobilisation they had to take the case to tribunal: the Government could not force the employer to reinstate them.
Employers complain that they receive very little in the way of realistic compensation for the loss of an employee, no matter how important they are to the company.
The company can claim up to Â£2,400 for the cost of finding a replacement but only a maximum of Â£31 a week for any administrative difficulties it faces as a result.
The MoD said yesterday about 900 of those called up in the first tranche, who all have to report by Feb 3, were from the RAAF, with 300 from the Army and a similar number from the Royal Navy.
The vast bulk of those to be called up in the subsequent tranches will be from the Army. The army's mobilisation centre at Chilwell, Notts, is expecting to handle 6,500 reservists.
They will be given a medical examination and necessary inoculations, kit and equipment before being sent for training at Donington, Shropshire, or Strensall, near York.
Nothing new, but it underlines the resentment out there. When ministers introduce an appeals system that normally finds for the employer, or employee, against call-up, they shouldn't be surprised when it's used. To talk about binning the 'majority' (which I find hard to believe) of the 32000 'unwilling' to be called-up beggars belief. It takes more than employer's goodwill these days.
I won't be drawing Mrs Stabtastic's attention to this 900 more business. Good job I've got another 18 months before another Telic..
Read this just as the postman stuffed an A4 brown envelope through the door.....with official looking postmark and return address on the back.
Opened it with breath held.....
Army recruiting package from a course I went on a few weeks back......palpitations abated.....
I for one, would have gone happily (!) if asked for Telic 1. My employer would have been fully supportive. I just think it is plain wrong to keep the momentum up for roulement purposes when they are now announcing swaything cuts to the full-timers. So do my employers. I find I now have to play down my commitment to the TA.
And when is TCH going to recognise the fact that if they want to treat us as "Part-Time" regular army but without the benefits that our full time counterparts enjoy, it is a realistic threat that he will have no one left to call upon when our primary role is needed again.....to reinforce the regular army in times when the extra manpower will give them the edge in a decisive battle.....
I am thoroughly losing heart with the whole thing. Time to request that 1157 printout I think.
If only - they're anything but! Blunktw@tt taking his tart on jollies to Spain, two Jags for Two Jags, grace-and-favour homes for every second-rate minister, special advisors coming out of their ears (and in the case of the Labour MP who tried to fix a student visa for his researcher, perhaps in another orifice) etc...
Mobilisation of the reserve is just that - Once you have commited your reserve you have nothing left....
So we are down to calling out the reserve to suppport operations whilst at the same time considering cutting the regulars.
If the Army was too big I'd expect to see barracks full of men not doing much with no medals with a reserve unmobilised in living memory picking up their bounty for turning up.
If the Army were too small I'd expect to see Empty Barracks with all the boys away and those that were here would be comparing gallantry medals and being introduced to their children with a reserve mobilised and telling great war stories.
Which of the above sounds closer to our current situation?
So lets get this right. In the last week Tonys Happy Circus want to:
a) Cut the TA by a third to save a reg BN.
b) Wants to still cut 3 or 4 reg BNs
c) Wants to mobilise 900 extra TA for gaps in Telic?
Time for Mrs Stab to get what she's always wanted I think, my kit in a bin bag outside the CQMS. I'd lose my job for another tour.
Won't most of the guys and gals have some sort of committment to public or private medicine?
And therefore a very good reason for their employers appealing against their departure, given the state of waiting lists etc?
One can just sense the spin machine approaching the tilt point: Beep, negative publicity of TA deployment...Beep, negative publicity of impact on NHS...Beep, medics are from Jockland where health is a devolved matter...Beep, the Dear Leader needs Jock MPs to push through things like foundation hospitals and tuition fees...Beep Beep (smoke starts seeping from its arrse - or is that it functioning normally?)