"A Reserve Force..." - Good Wavellroom.com article


Having been a reservist for nearly fifteen years, and having deployed operationally, I have been able to see the transformation of the Territorial Army (TA) into the Army Reserve (AR). The development taking place to transform the TA into a respected force that regularly supplies individual augmentees to the Field Army is being stymied by its mismanagement across the board. Many of the issues identified by FR2020 are still extant, with the cumbersome and inappropriate reporting process just one example. Indeed, FR2020 has been frustrated by rivalry and a lack of action between departments that are supposed to work together for a common goal. This was explored by Patrick Bury and Sergio Catignani in their scholarly analysis of FR2020, which criticised the intra departmental rivalries and lack of communication as being characteristic of poor management of the Reserves.
 
@Just_plain_you

Here's the key paragraph:

. . . . the quality of the soldier being promoted in the AR has diminished. This is a direct result of a lack of understanding of the role and capabilities of the Army Reserve has and resulted in unachievable demands placed on those in full-time employment trying to balance their civilian jobs with their commitment to defence. The shift towards a “One Army” method of training and attendance on Regular courses means that those able to and most likely to attend and progress are the unemployed or the unemployable.
If the UK continues to insist on allowing professional regular soldiers, with no experience of civilian life, let alone of life as a reservist/territorial/citizen soldier, to dictate on the basis of their institutionally confined experience, very narrow world view, characteristically unimaginative approach to all problems, and scorn for all soldiers but full-time soldiers (as old as Harald's huscarls' disdain for the fyrd, yet ignoring their contribution to the Boer War, and - twice over - to the defeat of an aggressively militaristic Germany) to design the Reserve capabilty of UK national defence on land, well then - this is what we're going to get, and - as a result - the ARABs decisions will create a situation in which their most disdainful predictions about Reservist capabilities will appear to be correct.

Nor do I expect the dwindling size of the Regular force to induce across its officer corpse*, any sense of existential threat of sufficient urgency to lead to a fundamental revision of their collective weltanschauung

*Stonkernote: No - that's not a fvcking spelling error.
 

Having been a reservist for nearly fifteen years, and having deployed operationally, I have been able to see the transformation of the Territorial Army (TA) into the Army Reserve (AR). The development taking place to transform the TA into a respected force that regularly supplies individual augmentees to the Field Army is being stymied by its mismanagement across the board. Many of the issues identified by FR2020 are still extant, with the cumbersome and inappropriate reporting process just one example. Indeed, FR2020 has been frustrated by rivalry and a lack of action between departments that are supposed to work together for a common goal. This was explored by Patrick Bury and Sergio Catignani in their scholarly analysis of FR2020, which criticised the intra departmental rivalries and lack of communication as being characteristic of poor management of the Reserves.
The inherent problem with the 'Army Reserve' concept was the same thing that has always existed with part-time forces i.e. they're are rather like a balloon: The air blown into to it, derives from the explicit threat to our freedoms and without a threat, the balloon is deflating fast and its back to a Cinderella service.

The secondary problem now is the part-time forces can be called up to fight for somebody else's freedoms and that breach of trust with the basic concept means inevitably the AR will continue to shrink in size and thus more resources required to buy, or provide interesting training to secure recruits and loyalty, but that pool is quite a shallow one and an AR cost per man increases.
 
@Just_plain_you

Here's the key paragraph:

. . . . the quality of the soldier being promoted in the AR has diminished. This is a direct result of a lack of understanding of the role and capabilities of the Army Reserve has and resulted in unachievable demands placed on those in full-time employment trying to balance their civilian jobs with their commitment to defence. The shift towards a “One Army” method of training and attendance on Regular courses means that those able to and most likely to attend and progress are the unemployed or the unemployable.
If the UK continues to insist on allowing professional regular soldiers, with no experience of civilian life, let alone of life as a reservist/territorial/citizen soldier, to dictate on the basis of their institutionally confined experience, very narrow world view, characteristically unimaginative approach to all problems, and scorn for all soldiers but full-time soldiers (as old as Harald's huscarls' disdain for the fyrd, yet ignoring their contribution to the Boer War, and - twice over - to the defeat of an aggressively militaristic Germany) to design the Reserve capabilty of UK national defence on land, well then - this is what we're going to get, and - as a result - the ARABs decisions will create a situation in which their most disdainful predictions about Reservist capabilities will appear to be correct.

Nor do I expect the dwindling size of the Regular force to induce across its officer corpse*, any sense of existential threat of sufficient urgency to lead to a fundamental revision of their collective weltanschauung

*Stonkernote: No - that's not a fvcking spelling error.
I disagree. The traditional TA Saturdays and Sundays and an annual camp approach does not fit modern patterns of working. Most Reserve officers who have any influence are in good jobs that allow them space to serve. Many are public sector employees. They have never been near the gig economy and don’t understand it; their advice is equally as flawed as that of Regular officers.

IMHO FR2020 was a golden opportunity to build a Reserve that is structured around new ways of working. I have two friends who are currently 1* Reserve officers who come from careers that have never exposed them to anything but a “privileged” life. They wouldn’t have a clue how those that join as private soldiers live.
 
I have seen worse articles on the Wavell Room. I think the author has their dates a little mixed up. FR2020 was published in 2013 and any significant ops ‘in a war zone’ (Herrick) were over for the reserves by 2015. So there was little or no time for the changes from TA to AR to permeate through the system.

There are some sensible points but I think the point about MATTs is a fairly weak one, in my experience lip service is paid to them in both regulars and reserves. I’ve turned up to joint reg/res courses where some regular soldiers were very poorly prepared. They are also hardly the pinnacle of soldiering whatever your cap badge/trade.

The point about availability is a good one, any reserve role should be achievable by someone who holds down a 9-5 job, otherwise you are significantly limiting your recruiting pool.

Do you think the author works in education? Their point about a complete lack of training in August is a good one. It is also when business outside of education are quieter and thus an ideal time for many to train.

It would have been good to reflect on Covid/Rescript, an area the Reserves delivered on pretty well albeit not a case of ‘proper soldiering’.

It is very easy to make generalisations when it comes to regular and reserve soldiers. I’ve seen stabs significantly outperform regulars. I’ve also seen some shocking examples of reservists being completely out of their depth.
 
I disagree. The traditional TA Saturdays and Sundays and an annual camp approach does not fit modern patterns of working. Most Reserve officers who have any influence are in good jobs that allow them space to serve. Many are public sector employees. They have never been near the gig economy and don’t understand it; their advice is equally as flawed as that of Regular officers.

IMHO FR2020 was a golden opportunity to build a Reserve that is structured around new ways of working. I have two friends who are currently 1* Reserve officers who come from careers that have never exposed them to anything but a “privileged” life. They wouldn’t have a clue how those that join as private soldiers live.

Which is interesting, as there seems to be a "National Guard" element creeping in the AR: lots of "can only do Regular Course IOT be SQEP" attitudes.

One view might be that this is dreadful, how on earth can you expect someone with a Full Time job to be able to do.

The other one might be that actually people might want 'jobs' for 2-3 months at a time, and then move on to something else for a bit.

Perhaps the "killer" solution would be a mix of both.

Of course, the fundamental remains: what is the AR for, and will they ever be used for that?
 
Which is interesting, as there seems to be a "National Guard" element creeping in the AR: lots of "can only do Regular Course IOT be SQEP" attitudes.

One view might be that this is dreadful, how on earth can you expect someone with a Full Time job to be able to do.

The other one might be that actually people might want 'jobs' for 2-3 months at a time, and then move on to something else for a bit.

Perhaps the "killer" solution would be a mix of both.

Of course, the fundamental remains: what is the AR for, and will they ever be used for that?
The TA job was to provide formations to the regulars in sufficient quantity to round out a Field Army. They're were never meant to be up to the standards of the regulars and their willingness to serve in a national crisis mattered more than ability.

The AR still retains formations, but in truth it seems little more than a individual replacement depot for the regulars. The craziness of turning a part-time voluntary force which is different to the regulars, into a part-time voluntary force that is indistinguishable from the regulars is a fatal misunderstanding of what motivates part timers and regulars.
 
I disagree.
With what, specifically?

I'm pretty confident that the reserve force don't control the way that they do business - that's in the hands of the regular component, which - in very great measure - explains why it doesn't evolve any more rapidly than the Regular Army's view on officers mess etiquette concerning finger food.
 

Caecilius

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what is the AR for, and will they ever be used for that?

Quite...

If the AR is for homeland defence then it isn't really needed. If it's for rapid expansion in a time of war then that also isn't needed as you can train soldiers much faster than you can build the kit to equip them. If it's for individual augmentees and a place to park niche capabilities then it's doing that moderately well already, although it could certainly be improved in terms of both structure and TACOS. Whatever changes happen, attendance on (some) regular courses will still be needed to make the IAs effective.
 
There are some sensible points but I think the point about MATTs is a fairly weak one, in my experience lip service is paid to them in both regulars and reserves. I’ve turned up to joint reg/res courses where some regular soldiers were very poorly prepared. They are also hardly the pinnacle of soldiering whatever your cap badge/trade.

The difference is in the regulars its easy to make the majority of people do their Matts at a certain time and give them remedial training if they fail them. Its a lot harder for the AR.
Hes got a point about the bonus, if people didnt get it because they were failing their Matts, are they likely to keep attending?
 
Quite...

If the AR is for homeland defence then it isn't really needed. If it's for rapid expansion in a time of war then that also isn't needed as you can train soldiers much faster than you can build the kit to equip them. If it's for individual augmentees and a place to park niche capabilities then it's doing that moderately well already, although it could certainly be improved in terms of both structure and TACOS. Whatever changes happen, attendance on (some) regular courses will still be needed to make the IAs effective.
Given how massively most regular units are understrength in peacetime. Where do you think the trained bodies are going to come from to bring them up to peace time strength for a full scale conflict ?

And remember the Army had pretty much abandoned the idea of a War Fighting Establishment so that's just normal manning.
 
Given how massively most regular units are understrength in peacetime. Where do you think the trained bodies are going to come from to bring them up to peace time strength for a full scale conflict ?

They usually trawl other regiments.
 
They usually trawl other regiments.


Bit tricky if it's a full scale peer/ near peer war. AKA WW3

And that approach has seen lads do Op Telic/Herrick the Invasion, only to get back and found themselves on Op Telic/Herrick 2. Amazingly the "F**k off, I'm quitting " rate was pretty f**king vertical
 
Bit tricky if it's a full scale peer/ near peer war. AKA WW3

To late to hold anyone accountable by then

And that approach has seen lads do Op Telic/Herrick the Invasion, only to get back and found themselves on Op Telic/Herrick 2. Amazingly the "F**k off, I'm quitting " rate was pretty f**king vertical

Meh, Telic and Herrick are now yesterdays news.
 
With what, specifically?

I'm pretty confident that the reserve force don't control the way that they do business - that's in the hands of the regular component, which - in very great measure - explains why it doesn't evolve any more rapidly than the Regular Army's view on officers mess etiquette concerning finger food.
That the problem lies solely with regular officers. I think there is a problem (and has been for a long time) with the Reserve VSOs who advise at the policy level.

In essence, if you have volunteer organisation that only trains Saturdays and Sundays, then it will inevitably be led by people who only work Mondays to Fridays in their main employment. That is not the majority of young people in the recruiting zone.

IMHO are in a period of profound change in the ways of working; the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Reserve is not immune.
 
Which is interesting, as there seems to be a "National Guard" element creeping in the AR: lots of "can only do Regular Course IOT be SQEP" attitudes.

One view might be that this is dreadful, how on earth can you expect someone with a Full Time job to be able to do.

The other one might be that actually people might want 'jobs' for 2-3 months at a time, and then move on to something else for a bit.

Perhaps the "killer" solution would be a mix of both.

Of course, the fundamental remains: what is the AR for, and will they ever be used for that?
I don’t think it really matters what the Reserve is for. If we need one, it has to work and to work, it has to have employment practices that are relevant in the 2020s job market and beyond.

This is not something that only affects the Services. There’s a plethora of books and papers about The Company of the Future, because there are lots of industries in something of a death spiral because they cannot recruit, develop or retain talent.

To me, the services need a model that allows people to move seamlessly backwards and forwards between gig, contract and full time employment and include periods working elsewhere. A shift from an organisational focus (filling PIDs) to a people focus.

I think there is a golden opportunity here. It won’t be taken.
 
How are you defining “gig” here?

“So, Pte Jones - there’s a fantastic opportunity for you to work for 7 hours tomorrow - we’re putting in a right flanking and bags of smoke in against the the 7th Shock Army, up for it?”

or something different?

Given that I literally have no idea how this works, what is the ratio of trained people needed vs people who’ll come into work?
 
Given how massively most regular units are understrength in peacetime. Where do you think the trained bodies are going to come from to bring them up to peace time strength for a full scale conflict ?
Looking at precedent (GW1, while the TA was still in Cold War mode) shows one option to be 'from Regular regiments B and C drafted to fill vacant seats in the Warriors of Regular regiment A'

Take a look at the parent capbadges of the casualties killed by the A10 blue-on-blue strike at Alec Bain's company to get a sense of the scale of that expedient.
 

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