FR2020 - changing the TA to the AR for political trade offs, budget cuts and opportunism

Just_plain_you

Old-Salt
@Gravelbelly

High levels of free time x high imput by organisation x desirable freebies = Boots on the ground.
Interestingly many students could earn more over a weekend from their part-time job (bar work, supermarkets etc) than they could from the OTC. Yet still they turned up.
 
Interestingly many students could earn more over a weekend from their part-time job (bar work, supermarkets etc) than they could from the OTC. Yet still they turned up.
I dare say; if they had brains in their heads they would maximise any AT opportuinities that they could as well.

I certainly never held a part-time job that offered me those (until I joined AR), which I did after leaving University.

It's often like Army Reserve; wonderful AT trawls come with it. Shame I was usually working.
 
Ahhh, jealousy based on lack of experience... ;) haven't you said that many times before?

It's a bit like complaining about the recent recruiting campaign not appealing to serving or ex-service personnel - you're wrong, just look at the numbers.

The UOTCs are the one part of the reserves that exceed their recruiting target and manning levels, with actual live bodies, every single year. Walk into any UOTC recruiting event, and they're beating them off with sticks. Walk into their training nights, and they're packing them in like sardines.

Every time the numbers have been gathered, it's shown that they're a key feature of officer recruiting. You might not like it, but they have a significant impact. For a few years (and after several "cost saving" bright ideas from LAND) they were the only thing keeping the Reserves in officers - I can remember the year where you could count the number of TA Gp.A commissions on your fingers and toes.

Instead of whining about how you don't like them, why not ask how they are able to demonstrably overachieve in the following:
  • Get young people through attestation and into uniform, with a service number.
  • Train them in (very) basic soldiering
  • Retain them for two or three years of frequent attendance
Because it's something that the rest of the Army isn't very good at. As witnessed by the, you know, numbers of boots on the ground. Perish the thought, maybe the rest of the Army could learn something?
Good point, It’s a different offer, but perhaps there are CV and life enhancing parts to the offer that get people in the door that are widely transferable. That said, the intake may be excellent, but the outflow post-degree from the ARes is ridiculous.
 
I dare say; if they had brains in their heads they would maximise any AT opportuinities that they could as well.

I certainly never held a part-time job that offered me those (until I joined AR), which I did after leaving University.

It's often like Army Reserve; wonderful AT trawls come with it. Shame I was usually working.
Where I was AT was C1 training so insured, but not paid but the opportunities were there.
 

Hohenidoom

Clanker
  • The Army has not been able to clearly state what the AR is for. If they can’t do that, then how can we expect a young civi to know he wants to join.
If there's one single problem that needs addressing (and fast), this would be pretty high up my list.

Looking at the plethora of Reserve service medals/Jubilees/the odd Tosca amongst my unit, it seems even the Army can't really decide what we do.

If I'm honest, and as much as it pains me to say it, I still feel we're only playing at this soldiering malarkey. The Reserve needs a clearly defined purpose, not the half-arsed attempt we've got now.
 
To be fair the UOTC offer of all the fun of mess life with no possibility of deployment doesn’t scale to the entire rest of the army... same with CFAVs...
Students have time, but no money. Brilliant, just what we want. Get lots of them in, ask only that they do a basic level of training without risk of deployment (absent existential levels of threat - the old Queen's Order 1). No problem, before they know it they've got a medical, a service number, they've passed WHT and APWT, done some basic admin in the field, basic land navigation. That doesn't seem too scary to them...

Of course, if they want to stay in the unit, they have to do the next step in the syllabus. No problem, before they know it they've done some basic signals work. Some leadership theory. They've been given a bit of responsibility. The unit has figured out who the f***wits are, and who's actually got a brain behind that shock of hair. Hold on, haven't they done most of the steps towards a TA Commission?

So now, you say to the masses "tell you what, do a TA Gp.B commission - no risk of deployment, looks great on the CV, more money, pose around in front of your mates, and instant attractiveness to your preferred gender! You'll be Beating Them Off With A Stick!" (@Belushi passim). You might see ten to fifteen of them say "why not?" each year. Widen the number of spaces on TACC, narrow the scope. It's only a few more training weeks, it's not that expensive, and before you know it you've got 500 of the sods passing out of RMAS each year, like we did in the late 1980s. See if you can manage this before they leave University.

And you also say "tell you what, let's run a weekend with the local TA Gp.A unit". Or "where are you heading after University? Ooooh, there's a TA unit just round the corner". The jump from "mostly-trained TA Gp.B OCdt" to "TA Gp.A soldier, maybe even PNCO, perhaps even 2Lt" is a lot smaller than the jump from civvy; our local Int Corps det used to get a couple of recruits per year that way.

You don't try to demand that every new recruit instantly commits to a commission and three or four years of their life. You ask that they commit to a year of "only slightly more commitment than right now", you just keep at them over three or four years.

You don't try to demand that "there is only one way to join a unit, and that's the way the Regulars do it". You accept that life and commitments are messy and varied, and that the more routes you make possible, the more people you'll get.

If half of the youth of today is going to University (compared with 10% in the 1970s/80s), why haven't we expanded the UOTCs to match the massive expansion in tertiary education? Catch them young, expand TA Gp.B by a factor of three or four, use it to feed TA Gp.A.
 
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You don't try to demand that "there is only one way to join a unit, and that's the way the Regulars do it". You accept that life and commitments are messy and varied, and that the more routes you make possible, the more people you'll get.
That is the sort of dangerous common sense which we can do without.

You'll end up matching people to critically short skill-sets if you carry on like that.
 
Does UOTC training largely match up with Army Reserve training in terms of skill levels now?

One big turn off for people leaving UOTC who had not commissioned but might otherwise have continued with their TA journey (and I am talking 20 years ago) was the fact there did not seem to be a pipeline for transferring across to the TA without being treated as a glorified cadet and sent through recruit training again to learn things that by and large they already knew.
 
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If there's one single problem that needs addressing (and fast), this would be pretty high up my list.

Looking at the plethora of Reserve service medals/Jubilees/the odd Tosca amongst my unit, it seems even the Army can't really decide what we do.

If I'm honest, and as much as it pains me to say it, I still feel we're only playing at this soldiering malarkey. The Reserve needs a clearly defined purpose, not the half-arsed attempt we've got now.
Boring head on
Because the reserves are not in origin a predominately functional values based organisation , rather a community values based organisation.
Reserves are best captured in the german term gemeinschft - i.e location then interest defines membership, then expertise/progression). its antithesis is gesellschaft i.e interest drives membership and expertise/progression takes them to current location)
The Regular Army which is gesellschaft written large has problems corporately understanding or defining exactly what it can do with the reserves because of the narrow lens it looks through to understand it (note, those who do understand it, generally do so from personal experience rather than briefings) .

Again, the strategic nature of the TA as a reserve did not demand competence as a primary factor, rather the will to volunteer; however the operational use of the reserve by the Army requires confidence in the competence, look at this quote from the original link(p 14/694):
In line with Edmunds’s arguments about the increasing prominence of risk management in British civil–military relations, the training differential between regulars and reservists meant that the legal responsibility to ensure reservists were ‘accredited, regulated and subject to legislation’ had a profound impact on any ability to deploy them
This difference in origin lies in history.
The TA was a further evolution via the militia of the old Fyrd, a defining community structure from Anglo saxon times that was local protection when things went wrong, defence of necessity.
The regular army is an evolution of the standing force, jumped started into life via Crowmwell's New Model Army. Because of the Civil War NMA experience and abuse by subsequent kings, the standing army and its capacity has always been viewed cautiously by both sides of parliament and as such is existentially restricted by the Damoclesian Armed Forces act (if not renewed, a standing army is "illegal").

tl;dr: TA historically partner of local community, standing army subservient to national government.
 
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ugly

LE
Moderator
Jesus. I qualify as an Ugly bullet point...

Do we know each other or something? :D
Funnily enough because the forces are a microcosm of society the various units must by reason have almost the same characters in them, a few exceptions I imagine but our Nato reinforcement Bn did seem like a cross between it aint alf hot mum and Dads Army!
 
Does UOTC training largely match up with Army Reserve training in terms of skill levels now?

One big turn off for people leaving UOTC who had not commissioned but might otherwise have continued with their TA journey (and I am talking 20 years ago) was the fact there did not seem to be a pipeline for transferring across to the TA without being treated as a glorified cadet and sent through recruit training again to learn things that by and large they already knew.
UOTC/Rs run Mod A and B officer training under the RMAS Group umbrella as well as RMAS itself. An AOSB pass is required to continue to Mod C, commissioning and Mod D confirmation of Commission is run at RMAS only. As reservists can choose to do Mod A and B either at a UOTC/Rs or RMAS I'd say they're pretty aligned, more so than in the past.

Mod A and B does not equate to Phase 1 A and B and UOTC/R transferees must complete the 2 week Ph1B (MATTs heavy) course. I'm assuming it's because OCdts don't do certain MATTs (CBRN for example)
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
Someone earlier posted about us having half our youth at University compared to 10% back in our days. They also asked why the UOTC's weren't ramping up recruitment.
I suspect that half of our under grads aren't suitable material, if when 10% attended HE we turned out 500 candidates at sandbags why would stuffing the UOTC with hundreds of less suitable candidates increase theoutput at Sandhurts?
I say it wouldn't but the MoD has missed a trick, it could fund/write of student loans by getting a good water tight contract of employment for these less than suitable for commissioning types and put them through an intense course one summer and create a reservist that has to attend the ARC and achieve bounty for 5 years or repay the student loan!
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
Guys aiming to Commission join an organisation that will help them. Hardly a shock.

I'd lay money there are VERY few OTC bods who join for sh!ts and giggles and then think, "Hold on, I suddenly want to go for a Commission".
Well, there was one... (went for TCB, failed it, ended up an RNR officer ten years later)
 
Someone earlier posted about us having half our youth at University compared to 10% back in our days. They also asked why the UOTC's weren't ramping up recruitment.
About a century ago, after the Haldane committee, you had the Junior and Senior Divisions of the Officer Training Corps. The junior division became the Cadet Force, the senior division became the UOTCs. These days, the cadet forces aren't seen as an "only for potential officers" thing - they've become all-inclusive, but there's no doubt that a lot of NCOs got their start in the ACF.

These days, now that most young people go on to tertiary education, students need to focus on their studies, and their exams; they may only have accommodation during term time. The UOTCs fit their training cycle around that.

So, why not react to the new reality? The Army isn't as class-polarised as it once was, and not everyone is going to want (or be able) to commission.

Treat TA Group B as a ready-made way of getting time-rich students into uniform. Not just as officers, but as soldiers. See how much of the "officer cadet" training can be made to align with "reservist Phase 1" training. Don't obsess over it, just view it as a gradual introduction of students into the Armed Services.

In other words, expand the UOTCs to cover AFC Harrogate territory, not just RMAS territory. Graduates and Apprentices, both.
 

Just_plain_you

Old-Salt
Expanding the OTCs to cover all universities would be a good start.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
Expanding the OTCs to cover all universities would be a good start.
I didn't know it wasn't but as Labour expanded the universities its no surprise! Again though extra officer candidates aren't much use without the soldiers to play with!
 
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