Against this background, and to keep open a range of military options, I have today made an Order under Section 54(1) of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to enable the call out of reservists for possible operations against Iraq. This does not mean that a decision has been taken to commit British forces to such operations. But it is an essential enabling measure to ensure that if such operations become necessary they will be properly supported with the skills and expertise that our reserve forces provide.
Following the making of the Order, the Armed Forces will issue Call Out Notices as required in order to mobilise those individuals who may be needed in the event of operations against Iraq. This process is likely to be incremental. The overall scale of mobilisation will depend on the continuing evolution of our contingency planning. It should also be borne in mind that experience shows that the number of Call Out Notices issued needs to be significantly larger than the number of individual reservists likely to be required. It would therefore be misleading, as well as undesirable for reasons of operational security, for me to give specific numbers or details at this stage. However, we envisage initially sending out sufficient call-out notices to secure around 1,500 Reservists, and we will issue further notices as appropriate. The Government takes seriously its duty only to call-out reservists when it is absolutely necessary. We understand the impact of call-out both on Reservists, and on their employers. I pay tribute to the valuable contribution they make to the overall strength of our Armed Forces.