Hmmm its a bit disturbing that the on line office doesn't appear to know about the change in age limits for the TA.
The change in age limits and terms of service have been widely circulated and those that are dealing with recruiting or administration should be in the know.
Wef the 1st of April 07 the upper age limit for a recruit with no previous military experience will be 43.
New entrants will now sign on for an intial 12 year contract, dependant on age and on completion of the initial engagement they may be offered a second 12 year engagaement, thereafter there will be a series of 5 year engagements or whatever it takes to make up the engagenment to the raised upper age limit for retirement of 55.
All in all good news, people are staying fitter and younger for longer and it is only right and proper that the TA age limits reflect that
MEMBERS of the Territorial Army are set to become more 'Dad's Army' than 'weekend warriors' under a dramatic plan to fill the growing gaps in their ranks.
Desperate defence chiefs are preparing to raise the TA's maximum recruitment age to 40 in an attempt to increase the number of fighting men and women available to back up British forces in the world's war zones.
The decision to raise the upper limit by at least eight years will allow inexperienced thirty-somethings to join the TA for the first time and help fill the thousands of vacancies that have emerged in the service over the past few years.
The drastic move comes just months after Scotland on Sunday revealed that the reserve forces had fallen 10,000 short of the numbers needed to cover Britain's military commitments around the globe.
There are growing concerns that the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which rely increasingly on reserve manpower, have scared thousands of weekend warriors away.
The Ministry of Defence insists the planned changes to the recruitment age, which follow a similar relaxation of the age limits for TA officers, will bring the force into line with the other reserve services.
But senior MoD sources last night confirmed that the move was squarely targeted at reversing the flagging recruitment and retention figures. Opposition politicians claimed the change was a crisis measure which proved the government had failed to get to grips with critical long-term shortages across the armed forces.
"This confirms the view that has been echoed by defence chiefs that our armed forces are becoming critically overstretched," said shadow defence secretary Liam Fox. "The government has failed to deal with the current retention and recruitment crisis."
At the moment, would-be TA recruits must be under 32 even to have a chance of entering the service. The limit is relaxed only in unusual circumstances - for example, applicants who have served in the regular forces are allowed to join the TA up to the age of 42.
As well as allowing those under the age of 40 to join the TA, the MoD is also planning to raise the retirement age to 60 from 55.
The upper age limit for recruits into the Royal Naval Reserve is 40, while airmen can join the Royal Auxiliary Air Force up to the age of 55.
Defence chiefs have previously resisted attempts to bring the TA into line with the other reserve forces, but they have been forced to accept the inevitable to prevent a further decline in the force's numbers.
Defence minister Derek Twigg has now confirmed this. He said: "Proposals to raise the upper age limit for people applying to the Territorial Army are currently under consideration." He is expected to announce the changes to MPs within the next month.
Defence chiefs have already admitted they are relying on elements of the Territorial Army to help 'backfill' shortages in the regular ranks caused by problems with recruiting and retaining soldiers.
Figures released by the MoD last year show that the forces have barely 36,000 reservists to depend on, far fewer than the required strength of 42,000. The figure is less than half the size of the TA at the height of its powers 20 years ago, when its complement topped 80,000.
The shortfall is widened further when the 4,500 members of the Officer Training Corps, who are unable to be deployed in combat zones, are removed from the list.
The disturbing gap between the actual strength and the numbers required has restricted commanders' room for manoeuvre as they attempt to maintain force levels in theatres such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ministers and senior civil servants insist the forces are not being overstretched by the increasing demands placed upon them. But the toll of soldiers quitting the army early has soared since the start of the War on Terror, with more than 1,500 leaving the infantry in the past year alone.
Although the TA was originally created to defend Britain on the home front, it has been increasingly relied upon to supplement operations overseas.
More than 13,000 recruits, who cover regular army functions including infantry, engineers, signals and nursing corps, have been called up for service in Iraq, but commanding officers have reported that many have left upon returning home following their first tour of duty.
TA veterans have also reported growing problems in trying to gain their employers' permission to take months off work to go and fight for Britain overseas.
But insiders claim many simply do not want to put their lives on the line.
One senior TA officer admitted the increased age limit was in part an effort to plug lingering gaps. But she insisted it would help to improve the quality of the intake by opening the service up to mature candidates who "missed the boat" when they were younger.
"Limiting recruitment to people under 30 can be quite detrimental because it misses out people who spent their twenties establishing themselves in a career but now need a new challenge," said the officer who asked not to be named.
"Clearly, older people are not going to be out patrolling in Basra in 55-degree heat, but they still have an awful lot to offer right across the services - even in an operational setting."
Although the organisation has traditionally had a high turnover, the TA has also managed to maintain its headcount by at least matching the numbers leaving with new recruits. But it has seen a steady decline since the MoD's Strategic Defence Review in 1998, which put its strength at more than 41,000.
Defence chiefs have released figures showing that more than 15,000 TA personnel have quit since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Some 5,000 troops have left in the last year alone.
Once-derided 'weekend warriors' who now make up a crucial quarter of army personnel
THE TA was formed in 1907 as a volunteer land force to protect Britain from invasion.
Although still a volunteer force whose members must fit training around full-time jobs, the TA - and its equivalents in the Navy and Air Force - is increasingly required to supplement the activities of regular forces. It is 10,000 reservists short of the 42,000 required to maintain the numbers deemed necessary to protect the forces from overstretch, and is only half the size it was in 1987. But those once derided as "weekend warriors" still make up a quarter of the army.
The 1998 Strategic Defence Review made it a requirement that TA volunteers are liable to be called to operate alongside regular forces, but volunteers and their employers are allowed to seek exemption.
More than 10,000 Volunteer Reserves have now been called up to serve in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Five have been killed.
Tours of duty last six months, during which the volunteer's job is legally protected. But dozens of TA soldiers say they have been dismissed for trivial reasons soon after returning to work, and are taking legal action.
Soldiers in their first year earn Â£371, which rises to Â£1,462 after five years. They are committed to at least 27 days training per year.