Look, it might be me (an age thing perhaps) or I might just be getting confused. Just looking back over the last few years, we've had increasing use of the reserve (TA), FAS (TA), introduction of MATTs, change in Officer training, uplift in expectations across the board, and now we're facing cuts in budgets, paying for our own food and no doubt before long, losing T&S (NRPS lose it soon anyway) and in effect being asked to do more for less. This set me thinking..and I had a moment of utter clarity in that I realised through all of the smoke and mirrors, that I didn't join to be a mirror image of my regular counterpart. I joined a different organisation, called the TA. Why? Because it wasn't regular. I didn't have regular friends, nor served with the regulars. We had comraderie, fun weekends, lots of adventurous training, a slower tempo to reflect our other lives. In the event of the balloon going up, would this have been of any value? Of course. Teamwork, basic military skills, some special-to-arm skills, and a knowledge of the military would have been huge advantage. Furthermore, we had real unit adhesion and identity so as a formed unit, we would have been of great value. A bit of beat-up training and Robert is your fathers brother. Now I seem to be at a crossroads, not sure which way to go - Tom Hanks at the end of 'Castaway'. Its become a 'you can't beat 'em, join 'em' organisation. Everything's so serious. People join now simply to be trained to mobilise! - thats not the TA, that's part time regulars. I want to be different, I want to add civilian skills, I want to bring a different perspective and I want to be able to do it in my time when it suits me, not to be at the Army's beck and call. I want to add value but not sell my soul, I want to have a family and a life that isn't dominated by being in green. I think I want to be different....has the chance gone forever? If it has, then the TA is doomed. Part time regulars we will become with all of the attendant demands on standards, training and committment, but without any of the advantages. It's pants.