I have loads. Who wrote FR20? Gene Roddenberry? If we can't recruit enough TA to meet a 10% commitment today (they struggle to reach 8% for ops), how does the government/MOD seriously believe we can recruit sufficient to deploy as formed bodies rather than individual augmentees? The truth is they don't of course. FR 20 is smoke and mirrors used to justify a further reduction in regular forces. They don't have to worry about it of course, because by the time we all come to understand the implications the government will be in opposition. This is a cost cutting exercise, wrap it up and put a bow on it, but it's just cuts. Got to be careful what one says these days, whistle-blowing is becoming a terminal illness in the UK.
PoGs, you're preaching to the converted, but Scribbler has a valid point - it is a blatent cost-cutting measure (although its rationale is not exclsively financial) and the only way that the TA will expand quickly is lots of recent redundee ex-Regs joining. I can see the logic now - most of the guys will get new civvy jobs but for many their pay goes down and their outgoings go up, so they will join the TA for 40 MTDs and a Year Five bounty, thereby allowing them to put another few thousand in the bank. Nothing if not cynical but with, I suspect, a significant grain of truth.
Hey PoG, thanks for that and respect to you and all those TA who step up to the plate. I don't mean to knock the TA for whom I have the utmost respect, so let's not think it is that element that I am challenging.
You are an ex regular and what you bring to the TA is the skill and experience bestowed on you from regular service. I serve with a TA unit and have done so in the past so I'm not coming at this from an anti-TA front.
FR 20 aims to increase the number of TA to substitute a number of the regular forces. At the moment and for several years recruiting for the TA has been in decline. No doubt there will be others here who can cite "well not in our unit, we're great and have 90% manning", but notwithstanding those small number of units (if they do exist) the reality is that TA strength across the board is very low (I won't quote the figure though I know it). To give the TA increased capability, to change the TACOS for the TA and to amend the RFA to allow mobilisation of formed units is fantastic - the Israeli's love it and it works for them.
Would I be being a complete cynic to think that our TA are difficult enough to recruit knowing that their deployments are primarily on a voluntary basis?
I know from experience that the vast majority of TA deployers (majority, but not all) are ex regulars. If you reduce the pool from which the TA experience & deployable force is drawn (regular service) and increase the size of the TA there must be some concern about our ability to reach the new establishment levels. If we can't achieve them now then somebody needs to explain how we achieve them in the future where deployment becomes almost a certainty rather than an option when the reservist considers the time is appropriate?
Investment in the reserves is extremely important - but obviously it wasn't felt to be so for the last 2 years when TA recruiting was turned off - fact, in favour of regular infantry recruiting. Until the government places national security above financial imperatives I would place no more stock on FR 20 being seen through to its conclusion than any of the previous SDRs that I have been part of over the last 36 years.
I want to be positive about FR 20, but the only thing I am positive about is that it has been drawn up for the sole purpose of justifying further cuts to the regular forces - and that is so short sighted as to be criminal neglect.
The main thing here is the government wants a reserve force with all these special capabilities, and with a deployable majority for next to nothing, and probably with a similar level of commitment as the regs. Where will they get the people to do that on a voluntary/low pay basis? Why would the 'cyber' professionals risk their very well-paid positions for another job that pays £60 per week?
The full report also recommends 'sanctions' against those who don't meet (MATT1/deployment?) fitness standards. If put into practice, I could see more than a few thousand leaving the TA straight off.