Guardian: Weekend warriors go to war

In the past two decades, the British army has seen almost all of its medical services cut and it now relies enormously on TA soldiers from the NHS in times of need. But that reserve of people available continues to get smaller and Deahl acknowledges that it will soon reach crisis point. He says: "The Medical service is getting close to running out of personnel already."
This does worry me a little. Are there provisions in place to deal with this or is it a pink elephant in the room?


I hear rumour from a couple of nurses I know, that the govt is thinking of putting a provision into nurses contracts when they sign up, that they will have to do compulsory mil service in return for their career.

In general though, the TA in general is running out of troops, of the 15 TA inf Bns, they have all given upwards of 2 coys. Hence massive TA recruiting drives (still cheaper to train and retain a stab than a reg).
Fantastic article the Guardian , with a bit of a "The way ahead" feel to it.

Only slightly marred by the usual prejudices rearing their ugly heads on both sides , but apart from that , not bad at all. Well done Lowlands and the Londons.
crossed_axes said:
Comes to something when the army has to rely on The Guardian to tell it as it is!
This is the same reporter that was embedded with the Household Cav, and did that excellent Guardian article on TELIC 1
Speaking as a member of a reserve force that doesnt serve overseas, who read the article I found it fascinating.
We've always made the assumption in ireland that the TA was like most of the other reserves that serve operationally and had the same basic training as the army.
Instead it looks from the article as if you basically get the same amount of training hours as we do, perhaps just with a more efficient use of resources...
The Irish army reserve (currently being reconstituted from a homeguard/local defence force) is currently restricted to one weeknights training plus sundays, the occassional weekend (varying from 5 a year to every second weekend) and two weeks in the summer, much of our training is inadequate due to a lack of concentration of resources.
How would this compare with the TA situation?
polar said:
2 weekends a month
one drill night a week
and the two week camp.
One weekend a month, one drill night a week and the two-week camp is what most units will say their commitment level is. In fact, it can be (and often is, in the first two or three years) three weekends a month, one drill night a week, the two-week camp and a two-week course. Subject to limits on training days, that is.

Imshi-Yallah, I note from another forum ( that the degree of rancour between the Irish regulas and their Army Reserve is phenomenally high: the regs do not rate the reserves at all.

I also note that the posters on that forum have a slightly exaggerated view of how good the TA is. The presumption they seem to make is that (a) if you are to be sent abroad on operations you must be a competent soldier; (b) only regulars are competent soldiers; (c) therefore the TA must be as well-trained as regular soldiers.

Now, most people would agree that TA soldiers are as good in some respects as regulars, worse in some, better in others. But they tend to be as good or better in certain ways not because of the training they get but because of what they bring from civworld.

Questions for you, then Imshi-Yallah.

1. What kind of training do you actually do?

2. Is bad training, lack of kit, etc., the reason the PDF (and indeed the RDF) hold the RDF in such low esteem? Or is it to do with the deployability issue (ie, only the PDF do real soldiering in places such as East Timor, Lebanon, etc.)?

3. Is anything being done to redress the situation?

4. What is morale like in the Army Reserve? Surely you must be rejoicing in your change of name from Forsa Cosanta Aituil (Local Defence Force)!
Training is all currently conventional warfare light infantry training, but frequently with big holes in it, as I said in my previous post the biggest problem is poor concentration of resources, disinterest by the PDF (particularly cadre staff, who in some (not that extreme) cases have been known to try and ball out a higher ranking reservist for asking them to do their job, and reserve units shooting themselves in the foot on three key issues.
1. Taking anyone who can pass security and medical tests one at a time so as to keep the numbers on the books up even though the actual active strength of the unit or sub unit is depleting and the personnel being retained are often the worst of the lot.
2. Officers and NCOs running units like a youth club, ignoring the central training ethos and basing the units activities around competitions, social events and other ancilliary activities.
3. You may have noticed on IMO the tendency to scream walter mitty at the first mention of advancing training or getting extra equipment, this attitude appears to prevail in a lot of reserve units and hampers those of us who wish to train our troops in vital skills such as water crossings etc. (One Colleague who was instructing on a career course had prepared a whole platoon for a lake crossing exercise when on the morning of the even the course commanders decided it was too risky to trust privates not to drown themselves so sent the instructors across on their own instead.)

The PDF attitude to the RDF is based on a number of things, a big part of it is the previously mentioned tendency to scream walter....around 40% of every intake into the PDF have been in the reserves, many of them are afraid of being slagged off as baggers so they amp up the snobbyness.
Up until a few years ago we used exclusively obsolete equipment (58 pattern CEMO was on issue up until the middle of last year), so even in the past when reservists shared operational tours on the border we and had basically the same amount of training for the tasks they still looked a bit funny.
We still havent got our own GPMGs and while most PDF units will loan out mags and other equipment, it depends entirely on your cadre whether you will get them, i.e. an offer to issue out empty AT4s for training and familiarisation of my platoon was blocked by a Cadre Q because if we had got them everyone would want them...boohoo for him.

Deployability is an issue of course, we rarely fail to impress our full time counterparts when we actually work with them but we rarely do and when we do its usually doing non soldier work.

As to redressing the situation, the reserve is undergoing a major restructuring process at the moment with units being amalgamated and re-equipped, training is becoming centralised and modularised to prevent the patchiness that currently prevails.
Reserve units will now be twinned with regular units and the cadre system is being changed to a short term contract to end the retirement home syndrome.
Each reserve unit will now provide a more intensively trained integrated sub unit to their PDF parent unit, after individual specialists these integrated platoons and companies will probably be the first reservists to serve overseas. (the law has to be changed first)

Morale is generally poor, recruitment needs a major overhaul (some units such as my own are taking their own lead in this), and every other day people have to put up with idiot colleagues or journalists calling for the army to be disbanded or turned into a peace corps and for all the money (smallest per capita defence budget in europe from its best performing economy) be spent on kittens and singing orphans.
Still we struggle on and hope for better....the usual really,

Christ that was long winded, hope that answers all your questions.

Edit: All information given is freely available in the public realm or authors opinion.
i think you can never really get away from snobbery and "part-timer" tag anywhere
Part of the reason for the regular Irish Army's dislike of the FCÁ is that they are seen as historically being descended from the Volunteer Force, which was formed in 1934, shortly after the Fianna Fáil party first came to power after the Irish Civil War. Fianna Fáil feared the Army greatly, and indeed believed that the senior commanders would not accept the newly-elected Fianna Fáil government in 1932 (FF members of the Dáil brought weapons into Leinster House after the election, such was their fear of the Army). It should be borne in mind that Fianna Fáil was the political manifestation of the Anti-Treaty side which lost the Civil War in 1923.

The Volunteer Force was formed in 1934 by de Valera for the express purposes of allowing Fianna Fáil supporters to serve in the Army, something they refused to do until then, and to draw away potential recruits from the IRA. De Valera's own son - Vivian - was a major in the Volunteers, a rank which did not exist in the regular Army, the Boer rank of Commandant being preferred, as it still is today. Regular Army officers - mostly Civil War veterans of the Free State Army - regarded this force as a drain on resources and a means for the government to 'keep an eye on the Army'. The Volunteer Force was uniformed differently to the regular Army and was supplemented by the Local Defence Force and Local Security Force during 'the Emergency'. The FCÁ was formally established in 1946 and 'integration' with the PDF was attempted in the 1960s - and was unsuccessful. The PDF regard the FCÁ as a drain on very limited resources, which is probably the principal gripe. There have been recent improvements - the issuing of the Steyr AUG, new uniforms and webbing - in the lot of the FCÁ, but I cannot but wonder if the present drive to integrate the force with the PDF is not just another government attempt to be seen to be doing something about defence. 'Neutrality' has been too often used as a reason for doing nothing.
Quality post, gallowglass. Plenty of revelations in it for Dr Evil.

Papa Evil was in the FCA and is very much an old-skool Feena Fawler, so that fits with what you say. Still, one would have thought that the politics of the Civil War era would exert a feebler influence over such things these days.

My feeling is that vitriol from regulars to reserves will (as Jesus said of the poor) always be with us but in the British Army is less visible than usual. That's because the regulars realise from having worked with the TA that not everyone in it is a plonker and because they know that without the TA life would be one long op.

By comparison, for our Irish brethren a tour abroad is something to be wished for. Who needs reservists nabbing the slots a proper soldier could take, etc.? And if that's the case, why have a bunch of bleedin Walters running around in that funky Irish DPM?
Dr Evil said:
Still, one would have thought that the politics of the Civil War era would exert a feebler influence over such things these days.

:D Remember. This is the island that brought 1798, 1690 and quite a few people are still pi55ed of about that Strongbow chappy. 1922? Bloody yesterday. (My gran remembers Free State troops kipping on all available flat surfaces in the house under their coats. I dont think her parents had much say in the matter of whether they could or not.)
Quite so. Colleagues of my father's in the period 1953 - 71 did not go home to certain parts of the country in uniform, such was the memory of the Civil War. Even today there is a residual hostility to the Defence Forces because of this.

It might interest people to know that the Irish Free State Army of the Civil War period (1922-23) was regarded as one of the best in Europe (where armies were either falling apart through revolution or being demobilised), and consequently many former soldiers (primarily officers) of various armies made their way to Ireland at independence in 1922 to offer their services to the new state. Naturally, many former British officers served, but also those from the former imperial armies of Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Germany. The first director of the Army School of Equitation was one Col. Count Paul von Rodzianko, formerly of the Imperial Chevalier Guards, and a brother officer of Mannerheim - he was of Cossack descent and after the Russian Revolution had served in the ranks of the Royal Fusiliers and the 10th Hussars. He was - according to my father, who served in the Equitation School much later - succeeded by a Polish nobleman whose name escapes me right now. Up until 1949 Irish officers wore beautiful dress and mess uniforms (I have seen them, jewel-encrusted collar badges - magnificent) which showed a heavy Central European influence (a short shako and pelisse-like cape).

Some 5,000 officers and men were recorded as having deserted from the Irish Army during the Second World War ('The Emergency') to serve in the British Army - de Valera gave instructions that no actions were to be taken against them when they returned afterwards.

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