Cold War Territorials ‘most potent ever’

#1
I've just seen this letter in the latest edition of "Soldier". I too have been pretty unimpressed by the coverage of TA100 which seems to be based on rubbishing the past "it used to be just a drinking club but not now ... etc").

Times change. Enemies change. Requirements change. The TA changes. It doesn't mean that the the people serving in the TA in whatever era deserve any less respect.

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Cold War Territorials ‘most potent ever’

WHO is responsible for the untruth on the official website of the Territorial Army as it celebrates its centenary? Describing the Cold War years, it states: “Throughout this period of fluctuating fortunes, the TA was never regarded as a particularly useable or effective force, either by the Government of the day or by the Regular Army.” Absolute bunkum. The TA of the 1980s was the most potent ever.

It was 70,000-strong, equipped with the latest weaponry and much of it was committed to Nato. The One Army concept, which is claimed as a 21st century invention, was coined during the 1980s. If the TA had been mobilised in the 1980s, it would have gone into action alongside the Regulars and, from what I saw of it during my service from 1976 to 1992, would have acquitted itself well. The notion that the TA “only came of age” in Iraq and Afghanistan is nonsense. Indeed, it may be that short-term demands imposed on today’s citizen army will kill it off altogether, and a great national asset will be lost.

Maj (Retd) Peter Rhodes, R Signals, Kenilworth.
 
#2
I tend to agree with you. I know for sure that the unit I joined in 1987 were potent, we were able to almost fully man on most exercises and we could do the business on ranges as well. Fitness was good and as a Sqn we would have around 100 on camp and around 550 in the Regt (of 5 Sqns plus HQ). Mind you we started with PT at 4.45am and trained through to 2330 during retruit trg that work hard ethic continued in the Troops. Drinking was kept out and unless it was the smoker you'd be in serious trouble if caught with a beer when you shouldn't have been.

The TA may be more useful as an IR machine to the regulars, but it was more use as a reserve to the nation during the cold war. Some thing I'm not sure it could do today.
 
#3
From a parliamentary discussion on the TA:

37. Options for Change also reviewed the roles of the Reserve Forces. The 1989 Statement on the Defence Estimates had described the wartime role allotted to the Territorial Army (TA) during the Cold War as—

... to provide 58,000 men in formed units as an integral part of the reinforcement of BAOR ... A further 29,000 TA soldiers (including the Home Service Force) and some 45,000 ex-Regulars would have home defence roles.[96]
The 1991 Statement on the Defence Estimates announced a review of these roles. The first casualty was the Home Defence Force, whose primary role during the Cold War had been to provide guard forces for lower-priority potential targets in time of war, thus releasing more highly trained units for other tasks. It was disbanded and its roles transferred to the Territorial Army. The new mission for the TA, designated as 'National Defence' was described as embracing—

... all tasks in support of military home defence (i.e. the direct defence of the UK), as well as within the wider framework of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps or out of area.[97]
However, those Territorial Army units assigned to Allied Rapid Reaction Corps in Germany saw a shift in emphasis away from teeth arms to combat support. As a consequence, the infantry were cut, with rifle companies being reduced by 34% from 164 to 109 and battalions from 41 to 36. Overall the Territorial Army was reduced from a notional strength of 91,000 to a peacetime level of 63,000 to be expanded in emergencies to 71,000.[98] The Defence Committee commented in its report on Options for Change and the reserve forces that —

... it is by no means axiomatic that a reduction in Regular forces should be accompanied by a cut in Reserve forces. Logic could, equally plausibly, have led the Government to maintain or even augment the TA's strength, taking advantage of a relatively low cost option for supplementing the Regular Army and providing a stock from which trained reinforcements could readily be supplied. In the event, the opposite approach was adopted. We were told that, as with the proposals for the Regular Army, decisions about the TA followed from a review of the threat faced by the UK and the extension of warning times ... MoD told us that "this is very much a strategy driven exercise". The total future strength of the TA seems to have been driven at least as much by demographic pressures ... as by strategy.[99]


58k troops tasked to reinforce BAOR - doesn't seem like the government regarded it as unusable or ineffective to me, and I certainly didn't get much drinking time in the early '90s between moving Tent cities all over the fecking place...
 
#4
I was 18 during the cold War - I was so potent I needed hourly bromide injections, in order to concentrate on my military role! Given the huge percentage of nursing formations, all almost entirely female in those days, deployed in the Corps rear area...well do I need to draw you a picture?
 
#5
Cuddles said:
I was 18 during the cold War - I was so potent I needed hourly bromide injections, in order to concentrate on my military role! Given the huge percentage of nursing formations, all almost entirely female in those days, deployed in the Corps rear area...well do I need to draw you a picture?
No but if you could provide photos of said nurses that may help! 8)
 
#6
Say what!!!
where did this guy get his information from, from my own unit at the time 1st Btn Yorkshire Volunteers I can only say we were a very effective fighting unit armed with the best weapon systems of the time and were fundamentally prepared and motivated for the role that was tasked to us, namely reinforcment of BAOR, far from it being a 'drinking club' we trained hard and yes we relaxed in the usual way that all squaddies at the time did, much in the same way as do our service men and women now.
The vast logistics of moving up to a division of troops and equipment was tested thoroughly in my opinion and despite the usual problems that I imagine we still have now, turning up at my drill hall for deployment and 48hrs later digging into a wood in northern Germany with all troops and equipment in place was no mean feat but happened every time we deployed!
I can only speak for my own unit but we were a very professional Unit very fit, fully trained and motivated and well led for the most part, so to see people denigrating what our generations committment to a war without a major engagement I think we proved we were ready and able and incidenetly
DIDN'T WE WIN?
 
#7
A message to all Cold war warriors, "Kin well done", drinking club my Arrse. A very fit and motivated drinking club, sometimes. Beasted to death improving our fitness and scaring the locals of Minden FDR. Our regular instructors would not allow you to embarass them with a poor show.

Message ends

RCGJ
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
Have to agree. We regularly went up against the regs on exercise and got stuck in big time. We even had lads in Germany who were surprised as hell when they actually found out we were T.A.

We knew we would be sent to B.O.A.R. immediately if things went t!ts-up, and we were trained accordingly.

I've yet to find out what the current T.A. is like, but we were well up for it, and got to train with the same kit as the regs.

Something that WAS pointed out to us by the regs in Germany was the fact that they didn't actually get more 'training days'/exercise time in than we did. Apart from N.I., they spent a considerable amount of time in barracks.
 
#9
Actually, isnt the proof of the TA's vital role clear from Granby?

I doubt we could have fielded anything like the force we did without the vital contribution of both front line and support TA troops

anyone know how many TA were called up in '90?
 
#10
Here's the text in question ( http://www.army.mod.uk/structure/ta/1650.aspx )

Volunteers have formed a vital part of British ground forces for hundreds of years. Usually raised during times of crisis or perceived threat, early volunteer units usually comprised infantry, artillery and yeomanry.
Yeomanry units were mounted and formed from gentleman farmers and tenants. One such unit, the Castlemartin Yeomanry Cavalry (later to become the Pembroke Yeomanry) earned the only battle honour awarded to a British Army unit for an action on British soil, when it repelled the last invasion of Great Britain in February 1797

Formation of the Territorial Force
In 1907 Parliament passed legislation which saw the consolidation of the yeomanry and volunteers into the Territorial Force. The first units were stood up on 1st April 1908, and this date is accepted as the birth of what we know today as the Territorial Army.
The Territorial Force was mobilised in August 1914, its soldiers fighting alongside, and indistinguishable from, the Regular Army. Upon demobilisation in 1918 Territorial Force units were disbanded, but were reconstituted in 1920 as the part-time Territorial Army.

The Territorial Army in 1939
As war clouds loomed over Europe in the early months of 1939, the Government authorized the 'duplication' of all Territorial Army units, thereby doubling the size of the TA.
On the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939, the Territorial Army was mobilized and its units absorbed into the British Army. When the Army demobilised in 1946 the TA was temporarily suspended, but was reconstituted in 1947as a part-time reservist force similar to its pre-1939 structure.

The Cold War Years
During the 1950s and 1960s the Government allowed the Territorial Army to become seriously under-manned and poorly-equipped. In 1967 a poorly-advised and heavy-handed attempt at reinvigorating the reserves led to a virtual abolition of the regimental system among the reserves.
Realising the error of its ways, the government set out in 1971 to increase the size of the reserves, creating many new battalions. Subsequent expansions and reorganizations over the following 20 years meant that, by the early 1990s, the regimental system was almost totally re-established.
Throughout this period of fluctuating fortunes, the Territorial Army was never regarded as a particularly useable or effective force, either by the Government of the day or by the Regular Army. With the image of a 'force of last resort', its role was, at least unofficially, seen as home defence.

Recent cutbacks
In 1998 the Labour Government announced what it called the 'Strategic Defence Review', which would make the Army more relevant and effective in meeting the demands of the post-Cold War era and the 21st century.
The Territorial Army was the hardest-hit and within it, the infantry suffered most with 87 companies in 33 battalions reducing to 67 companies in 15 battalions. While the measures allowed for at least one company from each of the 33 battalions to survive to continue their regiments' identities, the result was that thousands of experienced and loyal personnel had their service terminated.

A New Purpose
The final years of the 1990s and the turn of the Millennium saw the Territorial Army assume a more high-profile role. As the Regular Army became increasingly engaged in overseas operations, the TA moved from being a 'force of last resort' to become the 'reserve of first choice' in supporting the Regulars. Some 6900 personnel were mobilised for Operation TELIC, the invasion of Iraq, and the TA continues to provide around 1,200 troops each year to support the Regular Army in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.
In 2004 the Government announced a radical restructuring of the Army, leading to the realignment of the TA as reserves of the regular regiments. Under TA Rebalancing, 15 TA infantry battalions were reduced to 14, but the overall strength of the force remained the same.

I spotted that missive on the Army site at silly o'clock this morning and would have been the originator of this thread if I hadn't needed sleep.

What a load of utter bollox! The author needs to be publicly hung out to dry. He evidently hasn't researched the subject, but merely listened to uninformed gossip.

"Force of last resort?" Further bollox. The TA has only recently become a Reserve (and more's the pity). In the days of the Cold War, the TA was an ARMY - separate to the Regulars and with an army's function. The Reserve component was the Volunteer Reserve (hence Territorial Army AND Army Volunteer Reserve), essentially retired Regulars that wanted to pick up a bounty in return for two day's refresher training each year. The Reserve probably would be used as a last resort, but the TA (my unit, at least) was destined to absorb the initial thrust of any attack (sorry Berliners, but I don't think you would have had the opportunity to do much absorbing).

"Reserve of first choice"? First choice? What's the second choice? Mobilise the ACF?

Is this libel or slander? A decent court case should certainly raise the profile of TA100.

edited to add:

Home defence was, indeed, part of the TA's role. But the author clearly hasn't researched that Home Defence was a separate issue. Where TA regiments were formed of three battalions, it was generally the 3rd battalion that took the HD role, the other two being destined for the front line.
 
#11
Agree with most of the above, standards changed from when I first joined, and from Crusader we consistantly improved, achieving in some aspects quite impressive levels.
However I think that however professional, the TA would have been, in the event of Ivan feeling his oats and attempting aggressive tourism, a throwaway force, at least the NATO dedicated units. Simply because in an armoured manouevre environment we would have been at a disadvantage as Lorried Infantry. The role that I saw was for us to help absorb the blows while the Regulars regrouped to attempt to defeat the main attack lines.

But yes, We Won didn't we?
 
#12
A mate of mine who was on Crusader 80,two years before i joined,

told me that they were briefed that in the event of crap hitting the fan in BAOR,

most of the battalion would have been expected to have been killed or captured

within the first 72 hours of deployment!
 
#13
BootsDMS said:
A mate of mine who was on Crusader 80,two years before i joined,

told me that they were briefed that in the event of crap hitting the fan in BAOR,

most of the battalion would have been expected to have been killed or captured

within the first 72 hours of deployment!
Regular Infantry tended to be tracked while the TA tended to be wheeled.

In reverse, a Bedford wouldn't win a competition with a 432, so wouldn't stand an earthly against a T62 operating in forward mode.

In the early days of the TA, Terriers were known as the "EverReadies." It's surprising that in the Cold War days, we weren't known as "Fascines."
 
#14
We was told we had 48 hours to get to Germany, dig a hole and die in it. Funnily enough we didn't have half the recruitment or retention problems we have now.
Would we be able to sell that gig now days, or was a real and identifiable threat all the incentive needed ?
 
#15
lacrabat said:
We was told we had 48 hours to get to Germany, dig a hole and die in it. Funnily enough we didn't have half the recruitment or retention problems we have now.
Would we be able to sell that gig now days, or was a real and identifiable threat all the incentive needed ?
The difference is that now the homeland threat is limited to maybe a few hundred people dying in a terrorist attack (and the Armed Forces' involvement is remote). Then, it was a real threat that the entire population could be subjected to a lingering death.

Then, you could offer to do something about it - and if you didn't succeed, at least you'd be spared the suffering.

Besides, Germany was prettier than the Middle East and in those days, anywhere abroad was an adventure.
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#16
putteesinmyhands said:
In the early days of the TA, Terriers were known as the "EverReadies."
Only the Emergency Reserve were known as "Ever Readies". Indeed it was a play on both their title and role.

From our very own TA100 website

In some respects, the process had begun with the creation of the TA Emergency Reserve or Ever Readies in 1962, these being individuals prepared to come out on immediate notice for up to six months’ service in any twelve months without recourse to proclamation: some went to Aden in 1965, resulting in the winning of the first Territorial MC since the Second Word War. Within the TAVR, too, there had been a distinction between TAVR I, consisting of Ever Readies and other specialists who now constituted the Special Army Volunteer Reserve; TAVR II volunteers with a limited war role who undertook to serve outside the UK upon embodiment; the home defence units of TAVR III, and the miscellany of units including Officer Training Corps classed as TAVR IV. All manner of specialist units have appeared in more recent years and, in addition, there has been the most fundamental change to the very basis of Territorial service since 1908 through the Reserve Forces Act of May 1996.
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#17
Funny how EVERYONE who joined the T.A. in the 80's (at least in the NATO role battalions) was told what their role would be against Ivan AND that the life expectancy was bugger all. As noted - NO retention problems, and NO recruiting shortages.
 
#18
Biped said:
Funny how EVERYONE who joined the T.A. in the 80's (at least in the NATO role battalions) was told what their role would be against Ivan AND that the life expectancy was bugger all. As noted - NO retention problems, and NO recruiting shortages.
Curiously I was recently talking to an old comrade, 2IC of my Coy. at one point, who I hadn't seen in years, and the end of the Cold War came up. He said, that 'For years I knew where I was going to die, and then suddenly it all changed'. I think a lot of us felt like that.

Given that if Ivan came down our way, then the Bn would have been reduced to a corporals guard, - we were in a choke-point. But we were quite well subscribed and had no problems with motivation, interesting.
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#19
Dwarf said:
Given that if Ivan came down our way, then the Bn would have been reduced to a corporals guard, - we were in a choke-point. But we were quite well subscribed and had no problems with motivation, interesting.
The flip side argument to that could be that the scenario of the Red Army invading was felt like an abstract or distant one (I don't remember a feeling of imminent threat in the 1980's), whilst the probability of deployment to and potential death in Afghanistan or Iraq is more immediate. Of course I wasn't in the Army during the Cold War so I'm not in a position to say either way.
 
#20
All due respect guys, but from what Ive heard from "cold war warriors" the actual prospect of Ivan coming over to play was a remote one, more a distant idea, than a real and immediate danger.Whereas nowadays actual Ops are a very real fact of reserve life.

Trying to compare the TA soldier of then to the one of now is useless, they are two completely different beings.
 

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