Special measures for under-recruited units

Given the parlous state of TA recruiting and retention, and the statements from the highest level that the 2 Rs are the ME, what do fellow arrsers think of the following proposal:

Any sub-units which fall below a certain level of manning (say 60%), should be suspended from the unit orbat for 12 months during which time they focus solely on recruiting and training new members?

The OCs OJAR will directly reflect the % of manning achieved in this period.


Sounds great in theory, but why on earth would any of the current troops stay in a unit which didnt have a role and where all they did for 6 months as recruit?

6 months wouldnt make that much difference anyway, because unless the entire weight of the ATRA was brought behind it that unit you would be hard pressed to find CMSR paces for the new recruits in that time.

Also, what are you going to tell people when you are out recruiting when they ask what you do? 'well, for the next 6 months I'm doing one weekend on, one weekend off in this shopping centre trying to persuade hoodies to join!'


Book Reviewer
Great - but what about the 59% or so still there? Most Soldiers do not want to spend all their time recruiting - it's not what they joined for. When you have a Sub-Unit that has gone through a lean spell, only good-quality Training will keep the ones you have got, and in my experience Retention is at least twice as important as recruiting.

I am speaking from experience here, as we are just getting back to 60% + after having culled all the dead wood (And I know several other places that keep them on the books for Stats reasons only...). We did a very large amount of recruiting all this year, and it paid off, but you MUST keep the Soldiers motivated. This does not mean going out to Colleges and Exhibitions every weekend. The ones yuo have simply won't turn up, and when Recruits join and ask the others what they did that year, they'll be sorely disappointed. Sorry MSR, but I feel it's a bone idea.
Don't OCs have recruiting and retention as a part of their objectives anyway? Or does that depend upon the Unit?

Just because it's not a box to be ticked on the OJAR, doesn't mean it's not an objective for the OC to be measured against.

I thought Regiments were all being given an NRPS Captain to handle part of the recruitment issue?

Valid points, but the guys aren't staying in anyway. If you haven't got enough to man dets etc on a weekend, those that do turn in will get run ragged, then not turn in and you are staring into a vicious circle.



Book Reviewer
We aren't losing any - at least not yet. All ours are looking forward to going somewhere else hot and sunny next year! We are working more on Retention than Recruiting anyway, as with our Trades it takes three years to be any use, so in the short to medium term, far better to keep those we have, adn bring on others as fast as sensibly possible. And of course as fast as the appalling TAFS system allows.
Agree that undermanned sub units can be hard work.

All the keen people get run ragged, and there isnt enough time to do the good training becaue there is all the 'overhead' of maint etc (although luckily in our case all our vehicles seem to have disappeared so we've lost that problem! :? )

But, retention is the thing. I side with Old Snowy here. What's the point in getting people to join a unit that people are leaving in droves from. They'll get in, not like it and leave. (and then you have to take another 6 months to replace them etc etc)

edited for spelling
Ummm, 60%. By Hansard, the TA is at less than 53% strength (20,100 troops out of 38,000, with a net loss of 500 a month), so this is an armywide problem not a problem of individual units.

To blame individual TA units for their poor recruiting and retention at a time where no one wants to join because it will damage their civilian career, and people are leaving for similar reasons seems to be wrong.

If you want a full strength TA, stop treating them like cheap manpower who have tour intervals the regulars of 20 years ago would have winced at. Provide some real employee protection. Provide a more realistic training schedule.

Oh, and give us back some real battalions rather than these abortions that are currently being formed....
Set the level at 50%, it doesn't really matter where it is.

What do you mean by 'a more realistic training schedule'?

The problem as already mentioned is not particularly recruiting in general, but one of public opinion and the retention of those that have already been deployed and very probably in most cases messed about.

THE Territorial Army (TA) is suffering a manning crisis with more than 6,000 soldiers quitting in the past year because of the war in Iraq.
A £3m television advertising campaign has flopped, bringing in fewer than 600 recruits, and, at 35,000, the strength of the TA has dropped to its lowest point since it was founded in 1907. This is more than 6,000 below its required strength of 41,610.

Ministers admit the real figures are even worse — only 24,000 troops are fully trained and in practice only 12,000 TA soldiers are now available to back up the regular army on operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.

The Ministry of Defence has repeatedly denied that the TA was in trouble as a result of Iraq, but the figures released to parliament last week show the situation is far worse than previously claimed.

Don Touhig, a junior defence minister, told MPs in a series of answers to written questions that the numbers of soldiers leaving the TA had more than quadrupled in the immediate aftermath of the Iraq war in 2003.

Before the invasion the numbers leaving were steady at about 150 a month, keeping the strength of the TA relatively stable, but as soldiers started coming back from the war in October 2003 they began to leave in droves.

Over the next six months, the numbers leaving quadrupled to more than 600 a month and although the figure has dropped slightly since, it is still running at an average of 540, well over three times the pre-war figures.
The figures are fairly accurate however the strength of the TA should stand at around 41000, it is presently at approximately 31000, the forecast is perhaps slightly exagerrated in that if 500 a month left then there wouldnt be anything left by this time next year.

The biggest worry here, is that retention is directly linked to keeping TA soldiers (new recruits) motivated and captivated by training and doing something new.

TAFS and the current Recruit allocation plots dont move recruits through the system quick enough to fill the gaps, these gaps when filled would take the burden off overstretched units and allow for a better rotation of personnel on tours to start with, not withstanding it would at least allow for a better bonding process when you have a packed TA centre.

Public opinions vary greatly, someone applying as a regular tends to have a totally different outlook on everything than someone joining the TA, and rightly so, not only does a prospective TA soldier have to think of the impact on their civilian life but they also have to think about what they exactly after to fill the gap in their life that the TA is hopefully going to fill, a regular applicant wants to be a trained soldier full stop (so is easier to convince).

I certainly dont know where to begin with turning it all around, hopefully when project OAR kicks in then maybe the ACIO's and the AFCO's can churn out some potential applicants for the TA, its a case of day by day unfortunately though where public opinion is concerned :)
Journalists not understanding what's said in Parliament again

Check Hansard:

12,000 TA troops mobilisable
8,100 Mobilised at the moment or have reached their mobilisation ceiling
11,500 in the process of discharge (i.e. they've handed their kit in already)
1,200 NRPS
4,000 UOTC

Figures ISTR for August/ September
Sapukay said:
Journalists not understanding what's said in Parliament again

Check Hansard:

12,000 TA troops mobilisable
8,100 Mobilised at the moment or have reached their mobilisation ceiling
11,500 in the process of discharge (i.e. they've handed their kit in already)
1,200 NRPS
4,000 UOTC

Figures ISTR for August/ September
Who's the journalist not understanding Hansard?

Whoever wrote the "6,000 understrength" article, as those "awaiting discharge" are counted as on strength (which they officially are). To be fair, this was the spin Mr Tourig MP (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence) placed on it.

Take them out of the equation and 18,000 understrength is the result.

23,550 bounties were awarded this year (including approximately 4,000 UOTC bounties). The figures quoted in Hansard supports the strength of the TA currently being 20,000.

So, what do we do then with units which are chronically under strength?

Good question.

What we shouldn't do is:

Shut down yet more company locations and platoon outposts, and make those we keep smaller
Increase the tour length and make mobilisation effectively the norm.

Which is what we are doing.
My comments from a separate thread apply:

'Why would you join the TA now?. The first paragraph of the latest Reserves pamphlet sponsored by Sabre points out that any new recruit can expect to be mobilised at least once in their first five years. It takes eons to train, be trade qualified etc all the while the trg is intermittent at best, and dumbed down by lack of facilities (I'm still getting over seeing the For Sale signs on Leek camp last week).

The TA survived in the past due to the commitment and loyalty of it's members. They joined to do something different, make new friends, and learn some new skills. They knew, in the event of a major catastrophe, that they may have to fight the good fight but in the knowledge that they trained 30 days a year compared to 365 days a year, they would have time to get up to speed and even if they didn't, they would be better placed than most. It would have been inconceivable for anyone to commit so much time that they could be mobilised in 4 weeks and serve in Iraq or wherever as a combatent alongside and equal to full time regulars. Yet this is exactly what we are now being asked to do.

What they (the MOD et al) fail to recognise is that despite the draughty drill halls with inadequate facilities, despite the passed over Trg Major, and the old vehicles, the regulars would come and go whilst the long term TA attenders would prevail. The esprit de corps and loyalty to the Sqn/unit and their mates would ensure that the tradition and momentum of the unit was always safe. The TA attended not because of pensions, mobilisation opportunities or pay as such - they came in because they belonged to something of which they were proud and wanted to be part of it on an ongoing basis. There were highs and lows but overall, it was fun and rewarding.

These issues have been completely ignored in the rebalancing paper. It's all about cranking up the anti and assuming that the soldiers would continue to attend - often to the detriment of their home life or work. I suspect that everyone is in for a rude awakening. If the captain of the golf club puts in too many competitions, starts the tee-off times too early, and expects members to support too many functions then funny old thing, the membership dwindles. In principle, the TA is no different and we will continue to vote with our hearts
msr said:
Any sub-units which fall below a certain level of manning (say 60%), should be suspended from the unit orbat for 12 months during which time they focus solely on recruiting and training new members?
I thought something similar was already happening, i.e. when a sub unit reaches a certain level they are not being asked to provide IR's?

Some units do need breathing space to allow juniors to get qualified so they can get promoted, (having had their carers delayed by one year).

Has anyone got a more detailed break down of the figures, is it hitting certain corps far harder than the inf (as their complete sub unit mobilisations are better recieved)

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