STRATEGIC REVIEW OF THE UNITED KINGDOMâS RESERVE FORCES CORE SCRIPT / NEWSBRIEF (Mar 0 Key Messages ï§ Reserve Forces are, and will remain, an essential component of the United Kingdomâs Armed Forces. They have played a vital part in maintaining the level of operational activity we have witnessed over the last five years, and longer. ï§ In line with MODâs vision of Reserve Forces as an increasingly integral part of Defence capability, it has been decided to undertake a review, to ensure we have Reserve Forces that meet Defenceâs needs now and into the future. ï§ This presents a major opportunity, to ensure we are making the most of our Reservists; its key focus will be on the efficient generation of relevant military capability. ï§ The review is fully supported by the heads of the Royal Navy, Army, and Royal Air Force, and will take account of considerable recent operational experience. It will also be conducted in an open and transparent manner, seeking opinions from across the Defence community and beyond. OVERVIEW Our Reserve Forces comprise both volunteer (primarily the Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines Reserve, Territorial Army, and Royal Auxiliary Air Force) and ex-regular reservists. While they continue to provide a strategic reserve for UK Defence, they have also increasingly demonstrated their utility on operations; indeed, they have played a vital part in our ability to mount and sustain operations, in particular over the last five years. Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, more than 17,000 reservists have served on operations around the world. They make up around nine percent of British Forces in Afghanistan, and four percent of British Forces in Iraq. Within the UK, they bring their military background to bear in contributing substantially to the community, not least when called upon in times of crisis or emergency. Since before the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, MOD has been working towards a vision of the Reserve Forces as an increasingly integral part of Defence capability. We need to make sure that we are getting the best out of our Reservists; that their training and other opportunities are as good as they can be; and that Reserve Forces are structured, managed and equipped to deliver the capability that Defence needs. The next step is to undertake a Review of the UKâs Reserve Forces, starting in April and reporting this autumn. The Service Chiefs are in full support, noting that the review is Policy-led and not Resource-driven and that it represents an opportunity to look at the Reserves on their own merits and in their own right. It will be informed by significant operational lessons and trends, as well as the better management information now available. It also follows recent internal work confirming that in broad terms our existing Reserve Forces policies remain sound, and clarifying the policy starting points for those aspects that would benefit from for further development. The review has a broad remit. In particular, it will look at: a. How best to refine the balance between the Regular and Reserve forces with a view to providing the required levels of capability and readiness. b. Options for closer integration of Reserves and Regular units to gain greater utility of Reservists at all scales of operations. c. How to capitalize on reservistsâ civilian skills with the consent of the reservist and their civilian employer where appropriate. d. Which niche capabilities might best be filled by the Volunteer Reserves, particularly in the light of current operations. e. The degree to which Reservists should be used in stabilization tasks â supporting one of the key implications for Defence arising from the recently published National Security Strategy. f. Improvements to the Civil Contingency Reaction Force concept with a view to providing a flexible tool that ensures the optimum use of Reservists in times of crisis at home, without affecting their utility for primary overseas tasking. g. The continued validity of current Sponsored Reserve and Full Time Reserve Service models within the Illustrative framework defined in Future Reserves. h. The degree to which reservists can be managed flexibly and, outside niche capabilities, integrated with their Regular counterparts where possible â we should seek to minimize the duplication of overheads in infrastructure, training delivery and the chain of command. There will inevitably be critics, including some who may claim that some or all of our Reserve Forces exist for the defence of UK, rather than of UK interests. Whilst that may have been true in the past, one of the key questions the Review will ask is whether that is right for the future. And whilst it will rightly consider value for money, the review is not a cost cutting exercise and it will be conducted in an open and transparent manner. Reservists mobilised for operations draw strength from the support they receive from their families, their employers, and the wider reserve community and we fully acknowledge that for this review to be successful, it will need to consult extensively.