TA and disasters - where next?

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#1
I'd be interested to find out the views of fellow ARRSErs as regards the role - if any - of the TA in disaster relief in the UK. This follows on from the Cumbria flooding, in which at least one TAC ended up under water itself, and the conincidental recent demise of the CCRF concept.

My question is this - given that abandonment of CCRFs, is there still a role for the TA in local disaster relief, or is the role of the TA nowadays solely to supply warm bodies for Ops? I ask this as it is clear that certain Units were not happy at being asked to contribute to the flood efforts, making it plain that this is no longer a TA role, and that supplying young strong backs to Rifle Pls is.

What's the general opinion? Are some Corps placing too much emphasis on supplying bodies for Ops, or should we be doing nothing else but supporting HERRICK, to the obvious detriment of every other aspect of the TA (particularly local credibility)?

As a starter my view is that, while HERRICK is the absolute priority, to say, as someone did last week, that we were not getting involved in flood relief as this was not a TA task is being very short-termist. The TA Infantry were nearly scrapped entirely ten years ago, and to imagine that the current situation in Afghanistan is enough to guarantee it a longer-term future is hogwash. Local links are esssential (and will become one of the main reasons, in the future , for the very existence of the TA), and to ignore such events is a rather daft COA.
 
#2
To get the TA to be able to assist in disaster relief, they would need to be mobilised. Mobilisation takes a while, so by the time you had TA guys on the ground, so to speak, the disaster in question would have long passed.

For general "clearing up crap" duties, the TA would be useful, but for specialisations (Surveying, Terrain Analysis, Structural Engineering etc), you can't beat the experience of Regulars. Even civvy specialists would be preferable.

Furthermore, what employer would tolerate TA personnel on the books if they could randomly disappear to help out with the latest disaster?
 
#3
OldSnowy said:
As a starter my view is that, while HERRICK is the absolute priority, to say, as someone did last week, that we were not getting involved in flood relief as this was not a TA task is being very short-termist. The TA Infantry were nearly scrapped entirely ten years ago, and to imagine that the current situation in Afghanistan is enough to guarantee it a longer-term future is hogwash. Local links are esssential (and will become one of the main reasons, in the future , for the very existence of the TA), and to ignore such events is a rather daft COA.
Agreed with the thrust of your comments OldSnowy. links to the communty are essential, but again (and especially in cases such as Cumbria) it is likely that many that would be mobilised for such contingency ops, are employed full-time in an associated trade or occupation. I can understand the reluctance to turn out as the "cheap labour force of choice" when it could be argued that the TA would be effectively insuring any shortfalls in the Environment Agency's remit.
 
#5
I think part of the problem lays in the court of public opinion John and Jane council estate get flooded, tornado'd or whatever, then they expect the TA to be crashed out to help, because that's the way a lot of people see the TA, they don't understand MACP and the like.
 
#6
Agree it would be nice to see some kind of TA involvement. A follow up question is "what is it that the first responders cannot do, that the TA can do"?

Once we know where the gap is, we can adjust the TA accordingly if the will is there. At present I understand that First Responders don't know what role HM Forces could play beyond highly specialist roles, and any wider TA involvement is likely to involve sandbagging or teamaking. Is this really the best use of our people?
 
#7
Seeing as the TA is recruited from the community it is only right and proper that they should help the community. As has been stated, if the TA Infantry think that because of the amount of operational tours that have been completed that this will save them in time of peace they need to think again. As with all members of the TA, they have to have some flexability as to what they can be employed in and it shouldnt be restricted to just emergencys. I feel there is some justification in doing community projects as in the case of 3 PWRR doing a Carole Service in Canterbury Cathedral. Finally the amount of "good PR" that would come out of something like helping flood victims not only gives the public a different view on the TA but also it will give the soldier a boost from helping someone in need. Just my view for all its worth.
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#8
Jerm said:
To get the TA to be able to assist in disaster relief, they would need to be mobilised. Mobilisation takes a while, so by the time you had TA guys on the ground, so to speak, the disaster in question would have long passed.
Not so. All it takes for mobilisation is a Mobilisation Order signed by the correct Minister. That can - and has - been done in hours in previous cases. We are used to mobilisation taking a long time - but it does not have to :)


TA Soldiers can be mobilised within a very short timescale indeed, if required.
 
#9
This was exactly my thoughts when I started another thread about this. There must have been days of notice about the impending floods and the amount of goodwill and PR, not to mention property which could have been saved by a concerted effort would have paid handsome dividends.

I am also sure local employers would have been 100% behind letting guys go for a few days to help out.

msr
 
#10
jim30 said:
Agree it would be nice to see some kind of TA involvement. A follow up question is "what is it that the first responders cannot do, that the TA can do"?

[snip]

any wider TA involvement is likely to involve sandbagging or teamaking. Is this really the best use of our people?
Very much so. You've answered your own question. Why do you think it isn't?

msr
 
#11
ABrighter2006 said:
when it could be argued that the TA would be effectively insuring any shortfalls in the Environment Agency's remit.
But it isn't, it's providing a surge capacity (no pun intended). The costs of the floods in Cumbria will run to hundred of millions of pounds and result in increased premiums for all.

msr
 
#12
In the 07 floods locally, I was sandbagging my house and all those around me until I was well and truly fcuked..... Some people say I’m a hero... I say I’m just a man!!

seriously the local regiment stay put in its barracks 4 miles away high and dry, didn’t even venture out to do what it could despite the rankers wanting to come out with sandbags and landy's just to help out in whatever way they could.

but because of the local council say they didn’t need help the OC of the regiment would let his boys out.
and the local council did come round with a truck full of sandbags but only after the floods resided. great help!!

So if the regs get told to stand down what sort of a disaster would it have to be for T.A to be called out?

Just remember to the ignorant public we are plastic!! Toys just playing at the weekend! And guess what the councils are full of ignorant people with no idea of what we could do if asked.
 
#13
Jerm said:
For general "clearing up crap" duties, the TA would be useful, but for specialisations (Surveying, Terrain Analysis, Structural Engineering etc), you can't beat the experience of Regulars. Even civvy specialists would be preferable.
Presumably you mean unless they are TA soldiers and officers who do this for a living?

msr
 
#14
As you say short sighted. I feel that the CCRF role was esential fo the TA to show themselves to the general public as a usefull if not essential service. The main problem was the training for the role was not the best to say the least
 
#15
Jerm said:
To get the TA to be able to assist in disaster relief, they would need to be mobilised. Mobilisation takes a while, so by the time you had TA guys on the ground, so to speak, the disaster in question would have long passed.
Thats where the plan falls down. What they have needed in floods gone by is lots of young fit labourers who can be given relatively simple tasks and set to work un-supervised. This is what the military specialises in. Or atleast it used to.

Some Bn's/Coys could have easily gathered up a Platoons strength of self employed/unemployed types and sent them up North to help out within 24hours.

The RE/RLC/Asslt Pioneers can provide the boats and crew and before you know it you have staff assisting The RNLI in the water, The RAF/NAVY covering the air and numerous spare bods left over to assist sandbagging, putting up 12 x 12's, helping out where possible.

The mentality now however is probably to outsource this task to the most expensive private firms or to rely on locals. They already rely on charities (Sorry The RNLI) too much as it is.
 
#16
msr said:
Jerm said:
For general "clearing up crap" duties, the TA would be useful, but for specialisations (Surveying, Terrain Analysis, Structural Engineering etc), you can't beat the experience of Regulars. Even civvy specialists would be preferable.
Presumably you mean unless they are TA soldiers and officers who do this for a living?

msr
Who are most likely scattered all over the country, may not be able to be called up at such short notice,may not be RE cap badged so don't have access to the right equipment at their TAC,have never worked together etc etc etc

Having these people on a register, with kit ear-marked etc is a possible solution, but then surely they are not fulfilling their TA role, which may ybe anything depending on who their local TA are. To me this si th ebiggedt failing of the TA, you don't tell potential recruits who have very important skills what they will join or do, you let them choose what they want to do, which in my experience is not what they do as a civvy job, purely because they see the TA as a chance to do something different.

Now if you had more National TA, with specific trade sets, Brain surgeons, Rocket scientists, Arch Bishops (i am only joking, i fully appreciate there are quite a few TA who have very important civvy jobs, which are vital to this sort of thing and which the regs can't afford to maintain) etc, then you could have 'Disater Teams/CIMIC type teams' who do work together and train together but along National TA lines, possibly with a higher bonus as they do not get the same monetary plus's a normal TA punter does.
 
#17
Crunchie said:
msr said:
Jerm said:
For general "clearing up crap" duties, the TA would be useful, but for specialisations (Surveying, Terrain Analysis, Structural Engineering etc), you can't beat the experience of Regulars. Even civvy specialists would be preferable.
Presumably you mean unless they are TA soldiers and officers who do this for a living?

msr
Who are most likely scattered all over the country, may not be able to be called up at such short notice,may not be RE cap badged so don't have access to the right equipment at their TAC,have never worked together etc etc etc
Why do they have to be RE capbadged? You are stuck in your regular mindset....

I would see large numbers of TA doing low skilled jobs like sandbag filling / trench digging, river reinforcing sort of stuff in the days immediate prior to, during and after such flooding.

msr
 
#18
My very real concern about this sort of “wishlist” thread, is that while there are many laudable sentiments, and good ideas about how to “do something”, everyone ignores the one glaring problem. Namely – the First Responder community has no stated need for the TA to be deployed in an emergency, and would not know what to do with the TA if it were called up for most emergencies.

I don’t mean this to sound rude, but some people here are guilty of assuming that the TA is the panacea to solve all the nations natural disasters, and that only the forces have the self discipline and training required to handle any problems. In reality the first responder community has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, is well trained and resourced and capable of coping with the majority of problems thrown at it.

The MOD has deliberately stepped away from involvement in natural disaster scenarios in recent years, after it became clear that local authorities plans were “call the Army” not “call the first responders”. People were relying on capabilities that were not guaranteed in an emergency, as the increasing use of the military overseas to do its proper job meant that we could not guarantee the presence of units during an emergency. This move has helped force first responders to sort out their planning, and things are far more swept up now.

Put another way, despite the ability to mobilise if required, in recent years there has been no requirement from the military chain of command (namely HQ SJC(UK) ) to stand up TA units in response to a crisis. The regular military have been more than able to respond in the very few circumstances where the local authorities needed assistance. The token TA involvement has mainly been with R Sigs, and even this is likely to diminish over time.

For some reason people here keep clinging to this idea of the TA as some kind of “international rescue” organisation, which should be on standby to turn up at a moments notice offering all kinds of unneeded assistance which the local authorities have deliberately been told not to plan for, and for which the first responders have no requirement for. Put bluntly, some of you here want the TA to act like the Legion of Frontiersmen.

Let me be clear – I have enormous respect for the TA, and think that its contribution to live military operations in recent years has been incredible. I believe that the TA should focus on doing what it does best, namely providing first rate personnel to do difficult jobs in dangerous places, and not focus on being some kind of unwanted ‘Dads Army’ – lets leave that to the LoF and focus on the TA as showcasing itself as an utterly professional warfighting organisation.
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#19
jim30 said:
I believe that the TA should focus on doing what it does best, namely providing first rate personnel to do difficult jobs in dangerous places, and not focus on being some kind of unwanted ‘Dads Army’ – lets leave that to the LoF and focus on the TA as showcasing itself as an utterly professional warfighting organisation.
Well that makes at least two of us, but I think we're on a definite minority on this forum.
 
#20
jim30 said:
My very real concern about this sort of “wishlist” thread, is that while there are many laudable sentiments, and good ideas about how to “do something”, everyone ignores the one glaring problem. Namely – the First Responder community has no stated need for the TA to be deployed in an emergency, and would not know what to do with the TA if it were called up for most emergencies.
But that is a failing of the first responder community, not the TA

jim30 said:
I don’t mean this to sound rude, but some people here are guilty of assuming that the TA is the panacea to solve all the nations natural disasters, and that only the forces have the self discipline and training required to handle any problems. In reality the first responder community has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, is well trained and resourced and capable of coping with the majority of problems thrown at it.
So how come the floods were so devastating? Are you saying there was nothing which could have been done in the few days notice we had of a"once in 1,000 years" flood?

jim30 said:
I believe that the TA should focus on doing what it does best, namely providing first rate personnel to do difficult jobs in dangerous places, and not focus on being some kind of unwanted ‘Dads Army’ – lets leave that to the LoF and focus on the TA as showcasing itself as an utterly professional warfighting organisation.
Of course we should, but there are those of who believe we can provide more than that and pinning our survival on the current war in Afghanistan is not a long term strategy for a reserve.

msr
 

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