Interesting article

#2
I agree with his sentiments but it is poorly written:

How does he square this: "The truth is, members of the TA are from being ineffective. Two-thirds of the TA have served on operations over the past seven years, and their medal tally is impressive" with "As it stands, the current military role of the TA is pretty trivial"

I suspect his conclusion is right though...
 
#3
Sadly he also doesn't seem to know the difference between a PCSO and a Special Constable...

Edit to add:

And when I did Staff College LSDI was "Large Scale Deliberate Intervention", not "Large Scale Defence Intervention".
 
#4
Or what LSDI stands for...
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#5
How does he square this: "The truth is, members of the TA are from being ineffective. Two-thirds of the TA have served on operations over the past seven years, and their medal tally is impressive" with "As it stands, the current military role of the TA is pretty trivial"
I would think he means that we could get a lot more value out of the TA than just providing IRs for current ops.

But well done both of you for focusing on the important bits.
 
#6
Interesting article on R4 this morning suggested that once Regulars shed themselves of major skills such as heavy armour, Reserves should 'maintain skills'
 
#7
Interesting article on R4 this morning suggested that once Regulars shed themselves of major skills such as heavy armour, Reserves should 'maintain skills'
It included this:

Richard Williams was talking about his forthcoming report on the reserves for Policy Exchange. Its published on Thursday - see the flyer below:


Monday 27th September, 2010
Territorial Army may be used as stand-alone units in Afghanistan

The Times references Policy Exchange's upcoming report on restructuring and upgrading the UK's armed forces which proposes expanding the role and number of UK reserve forces on the lines of the US National Guard.

"Writing in The Times last week, two former SAS commanders, Richard Williams and Graeme Lamb, proposed an increase in the numbers and role of Army reserves along US lines, pointing out that reservists, who cost about a fifth of regular soldiers, make up about half of the US Armed Forces and 40 per cent of the Canadian and Australian militaries. They comprise 20 per cent of the British force.

In a paper to be released through the Policy Exchange think-tank on Thursday they will argue that Britain should consider a rethink in the balance of regular to reserve Forces, and use the money saved to make forces more agile and high-tech. They point out that the US National Guard flies one third of the F16 fighter jets in American service, while 40 per cent of US Special Forces in Afghanistan are from reserve forces."


Policy Exchange
 
#8
I would think he means that we could get a lot more value out of the TA than just providing IRs for current ops.
I think you are preaching to the converted...
 

The_Duke

LE
Moderator
#9
The article is all over the place - the few interesting points it raises are lost amongst the cliches and contradictions.

However, the key issue of "could we get more from the TA than we currently do?" is valid. Of course it would require a significant change in T&Cs to make it stand up. Heavy kit and more demanding roles require more training, not less. If we are planning to be reliant on this (or on formed TA sub-units being part of a regular unit ORBAT) then the whole idea TA training as it is currently conducted and intelligent mobilisation does not stack up.

The US national guard does what it does because their training and deployments are compulsory. Once you sign up, you are committed. This enables them to attend regular "schools" and achieve critical mass for training events and deployments.

The two aspects go hand in hand - if the TA wants to have the bigger roles and real credibility, then there will be a step away from the enthusiastic amateur towards the part time professional. Many of the people on here seem keen to avoid the "part time professional" element. Any ideas on how to sell putting key capabilities in the hands of people who don't have to turn up for training, let alone when called for?
 
#10
Any ideas on how to sell putting key capabilities in the hands of people who don't have to turn up for training, let alone when called for?
This is back to T&Cs: currently it suits the MOD to employ us as casual labour. If they want an NG stylee reserve it is going to cost - both in terms of training and in employer support. They can't have it both ways.

And let's face it, no regular officer is ever going to get up in the morning and think how he can best help the TA.

msr
 

The_Duke

LE
Moderator
#11
This is back to T&Cs: currently it suits the MOD to employ us as casual labour. If they want an NG stylee reserve it is going to cost - both in terms of training and in employer support. They can't have it both ways.

And let's face it, no regular officer is ever going to get up in the morning and think how he can best help the TA.

msr
And how many in the TA could really manage a NG level of commitment? 6 weeks off work for "boot camp", then another 6 weeks for "basic Infantry/RE/RA school" etc. Every career course would be for 4 to 6 weeks. Once trained you face one or two compulsory weekends per month, with little or no leeway for failing to attend because your shifts/studies clash. You have the constant risk of you being ordered to deploy for 12 months- again, little or no leeway for negotiation.

Look around your own TACs - how many of you would honestly be able to do that, in terms of family and employer support? We do not enjoy the massive public support that the US military do, so the best we would get would be "NG Lite". All of the expectation with none of the compulsion or support.
 
#12
There is certainly a very different political / cultural view towards the NG by the Americans than there is towards the TA from our civpop. I don't think an NG stylee reserve would work over here. I wonder how the Aussies / Canadians make their reserve work?

It is far more British to 'muddle through' than make the bold structural changes required to achieve radical change.

msr
 
#13
And let's face it, no regular officer is ever going to get up in the morning and think how he can best help the TA.
Unless he happens to be posted to a TA Regiment for two years as Training Major. ^_~
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#14
That struck me as the whole point of the article: the need to fundamentally re-think what the TA is for and how it goes about doing it. I agree with the author that it's a poor way of generating a few bodies for operations. IMO, volunteering for ops should always be an option in the TA, but to make it the fundamental raison d'etre is a poor use of resources. Scrap the whole thing and put more money into recruiting and improving T&Cs for the regular army to aid retention.

I disagree with you that moving TA soldiers into 'heavy' roles would necessarily require more training in the long term. What it would need is better structured training within its own cycle. Remember, readiness requirements would be much lower for soldiers in these roles: one would be looking for a basic level of competency which could be raised when a potential threat emerged, not some kind of 24 hours NTM scenario. Your point about professionalism is well taken, but professionalism doesn't necessarily just mean trying to ape what the regulars do, its about achieving the effect we're aiming at.

I agree that the TA would benefit from basic contractual compulsion but as things currently stand we would stop being casual labour and the MoD would be obliged to provide pensions, paid leave and various other benefits. We should do this, but we are too cheap; although some kind of military opt out from European employment law would presumably be possible.

How do we sell putting key capabilities in the hands of people who don't turn up for training? Stop pretending they're 'key capabilities' for a start.
 
#15

The_Duke

LE
Moderator
#16
And if they aren't key, we can scrap them, surely?

Please don't get me wrong - I am all for improving the role of the TA, the T&Cs, employability etc. I just have severe doubts that the will (or the money) is there to do the full rework that would be required to make it a realistic option.

If we reallocate LSDI capabilities but without an increased training capability because of the readiness requirement, then we would probably be better off rerolling everyone to roles which have a relatively simple/cheap training bill - infantry, RLC drivers, basic signallers etc and put them through a crash cadre in whatever is needed within the readiness beat up cycle. There would be nothing worse than the all new CR2 TA regiments spending all of their training year on basic mil skills and the odd intro period, before having to redo the whole thing in the next training year because the turnover of soldiers means they cannot progress. How demoralising to be shown the toys but never really getting to play on them?

I had two very enjoyable command appointments on JOTAC as CR2 troop commander. I am certain that it would not be possible to maintain the level of skills the soldiers and commanders displayed with the odd weekend and camp, but they could be achieved by working together for extended periods once they started pre-deployment beat up of 6 months. I am not convinced that the odd beat up weekend would add greatly to that, so why not start from scratch with a basically trained soldier?
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#17
There is absolutely no appetite whatsoever within either the Army or the wider MOD to do anything other than maintain the minimum nober of Reservists necessary to placate interested politicians. This is the harsh truth of the current situation, and no amount of DTel articles will change this.
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#18
And if they aren't key, we can scrap them, surely?
The heavy roles aren't key now but may be in the future and we can develop a level of preparedness which will allow us to bring them up to speed when we need them.

Please don't get me wrong - I am all for improving the role of the TA, the T&Cs, employability etc. I just have severe doubts that the will (or the money) is there to do the full rework that would be required to make it a realistic option.
Totally agreed about the will. I think that this would create savings in the long term and so would be worth the investment.

If we reallocate LSDI capabilities but without an increased training capability because of the readiness requirement, then we would probably be better off rerolling everyone to roles which have a relatively simple/cheap training bill - infantry, RLC drivers, basic signallers etc and put them through a crash cadre in whatever is needed within the readiness beat up cycle. There would be nothing worse than the all new CR2 TA regiments spending all of their training year on basic mil skills and the odd intro period, before having to redo the whole thing in the next training year because the turnover of soldiers means they cannot progress. How demoralising to be shown the toys but never really getting to play on them?
We should be beyond that already. High quality instructors inculcating basic mil skills at RTCs; special-to-arm skills taught within units (ok, stop laughing)... but not beyond the wit of man to resolve. How exciting for members of TA CR2 regiments to spend their two week camp on squadron level training at BATUS for example.

I had two very enjoyable command appointments on JOTAC as CR2 troop commander. I am certain that it would not be possible to maintain the level of skills the soldiers and commanders displayed with the odd weekend and camp, but they could be achieved by working together for extended periods once they started pre-deployment beat up of 6 months. I am not convinced that the odd beat up weekend would add greatly to that, so why not start from scratch with a basically trained soldier?
I'm certain that you're right about maintaining skills but there are work-arounds which would help. How about integrating regular cadres into TA units; incentives for ex-regulars to join TA units; greater access for TA personnel to simulation equipment and all those other things which are all a bit too difficult at the moment.

I really don't see much justification in keeping the TA as it is, and less if it shrinks any further. It either has to find a useful role or face the scrapheap.
 
#19

The_Duke

LE
Moderator
#20
I really don't see much justification in keeping the TA as it is, and less if it shrinks any further. It either has to find a useful role or face the scrapheap.
No argument from me, but I doubt it will go that way. I predict the lazy answer: reduce what we have to the bare minimum accpetable by MPs, decisions about who survives made predominantly on the basis of need (DMS) and cost, not future potential. Harsh decisions then put off for another 5 years.
 

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