TA numbers

#1
I know this topic (and the Guardian article in particular) has been discussed on arrse already, but this from the House of Commons defence debate on 17 Nov 05 is worth airing, especially the bit at the end in bold:

Ann Winterton MP (Conservative) said:
The Minister has made it clear in numerous written answers that the final structure of the Territorial Army will be confirmed by the end of the year. That announcement about the future is vital, because the TA is in dire straits—one might say meltdown. All we have to go on is the announcement made on 16 December last year by the Chief of the General Staff to the Army chain of command on the "Future Army Structure Reserves—Structural Changes", which will take place around 2007–08 following the planned amalgamation and disbandment of regular infantry regiments, I presume.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the replies given by the Minister at Defence questions on Monday to two of my hon. Friends who asked questions about TA recruitment, I want briefly to pursue the issue. It is all very well stating that reserve forces will carry out certain tasks and specialist activities to supplement the regular forces, but that surely depends on available manpower. It will be interesting to learn the actual size of TA that the MOD is seeking. At present, the TA is 15 per cent. under strength and overall numbers are falling. As has been said, the current requirement for TA personnel is 41,610, but the actual figure is 35,560, which is the lowest since the TA was founded in 1907.

The Minister asserted on Monday that the fall in TA manning has already been reversed. However, I understand that the number of resignations exceeds the number of people who have passed basic training and are fit for deployment, which is a direct consequence of the Iraq war. For the first six months of the war, resignations stood at an average of 162 people a month.

From September 2003 until August this year, the average jumped up to 540 resignations a month. That point was highlighted in The Guardian this week—I hasten to add that I do not read that newspaper regularly—in an article based on parliamentary questions entitled, "Civilians who signed up to serve in the TA speak for the first time about why they have handed in their kit for good", which is a matter of great concern for everyone.

A tremendous physical and financial effort has gone into recruitment, which has fallen by 35 per cent. in the past eight financial years. In 1997–98, there were 10,400 recruits; in 2004–05, that figure decreased to 6,900 recruits, with the costs of recruitment doubling. In 2001–02, expenditure on recruitment was £5 million, increasing to £10.5 million in 2004–05. Those recruitment figures require further study because from 1 March 2003 to 30 June 2005, some 3,800 people were recruited as infantry TA privates, yet only 1,300 of them completed phases 1 and 2 of basic training, and 1,960 privates left the TA in the same period.

More than 35 per cent. of the TA have not collected their financial bounty. That figure of 12,010 individuals is, coincidentally, exactly the same as the number of individuals whom the MOD claims are still available for deployment. I respectfully suggest that that might not be true.
 
#2
Now is the time to GET OUT THERE AND RECRUIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We can sit and moan all we want but the situation is dire, is much worse than the quote above suggests and is getting worse. Those of us who are still Proud to Serve in the TA have 3 choices:

1. Give up like others are doing
2. Remain but do nothing to improve the situation (so the system WILL give up on us)
3. Remain and work hard to reverse the decline - we let it happen around us you know, not Govt, not anyone else. We didn't adapt to changing circumstances. We didn't take enough personal responsibility for our own future. Let's sort that out.
 
#3
Ouch. My frikkin ears hurt. Hey :

(1) I wasn't moaning. Was amusing myself by pointing out how clever Tory MP had spotted why the MOD's sanguine attitude about TA numbers does not match our experience; and

(2) The bods in my subunit have been recruiting like champions, to the point where the number of recruits in our system is extremely healthy (and the highest I have ever seen it).
 
#4
Dr_Evil said:
That figure of 12,010 individuals is, coincidentally, exactly the same as the number of individuals whom the MOD claims are still available for deployment. I respectfully suggest that that might not be true.
Has anyone broken down those figures into CC and Enabling components? I'd guess nearly 1/2+ is Enabling component
 
#5
abacus said:
Now is the time to GET OUT THERE AND RECRUIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We can sit and moan all we want but the situation is dire, is much worse than the quote above suggests and is getting worse. Those of us who are still Proud to Serve in the TA have 3 choices:

1. Give up like others are doing

2. Remain but do nothing to improve the situation (so the system WILL give up on us)
Well since we’re interested enough to be reading the thread… this puts me in mind of the old chestnut about the PSI boll0cking those on parade on a badly attended Friday night because attendance is so poor…

3. Remain and work hard to reverse the decline - we let it happen around us you know, not Govt, not anyone else. We didn't adapt to changing circumstances.
I have to say that on return to regimental duty after three years of ERE my battery is the best recruited that I can remember (as per Dr_Evil, above); apart from the NCOs and ORs, my first night back in, there were 9 officers (V) kicking about the place.

There are, however, a number of points which do need airing;

1. There remain any number of unresolved issues surrounding the recruitment versus retention debate. The root of the problem is ‘retention’, or rather, lack thereof, and the reason that this is one of the issues which need to be addressed goes right to the heart of the government’s (and the country’s at large) attitude to the Reserve Forces. Why are we haemorrhaging personnel? Too many threads around here deal with these factors already to justify restating them in detail, but lets refresh our minds with the following: finances on mobilisation; civilian job security during/post mobilisation; perceived lack of ‘intelligent mobilisation’; perceived ‘misuse’ of individual skills (both military and civilian) during mobilisation; pension issues; the X-factor disparity in light of the mobilisation ‘risk’; consideration of a missing closure date for the use of the TA as a manning component of the Regular Army rather than as a true reserve (as in ‘Reserve of First Choice’), meaning that even with the extension of one-year-in-three to one-in-five, one’s day job is likely to remain just that, i.e. a job, rather than a fruitful career.
2. Adapting to changing circumstances ought to be our bread and butter, ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’, the crux of Question 2 and all that. What we seem to have been unable to deal with is that the enemy which we have ‘contacted’ in terms of this discussion is our own government. Without undermining the caveat on the front page of the website (contrary to popular perception, etc.) it is impossible to see a way around that, from our point of view. It has to come from the top down. If the peace dividend from NI is being used to rationalise the Regular Army at a time when the Reserve is actually being committed to the fight , then clearly there is;
a. a need for the ‘Reserve’ to exist in a form which will allow it to be constantly mobilised,
b. a perception in government that either the current situation;
i. is fleeting and that the current level of troop commitment which requires mobilised reservists will decline in order to allow the reserve to return to being just that, in something approaching its post-SDR form, or,
ii. in terms of troop commitment which requires mobilised reservists will continue indefinitely meaning that the entire ethos and foundation of the Reserve Forces will require the kind of root and branch reform which will make Haldane look like the change from Working Dress to C95, or,
iii. will remain unchanged but that the conditions of the Regular Army will change allowing them to roll from Op Tour to Op Tour.

Given, 2 a., above, there is a requirement for overwhelming change which parallels the concept set out in sub para. b ii.. There is probably a case for arguing that the special-to-arm focus of the majority of the TA will need to disappear; gunners (V) were used in role during TELIC, but the majority of those mobilised, from my Regiment certainly, in the ensuing years have been involved in PSOs [I can, of course, see the need for specialist reserve troops as well, AMS for example]. I am strongly of the opinion that it is our duty as the leaders of our soldiers to so everything within our power to prepare them for that which they are likely to face on mobilisation – and as much as I shall always have Ubique: Quo fas et Gloria ducunt written through me like a stick of rock – that does not, I’m afraid involve a focus on field gunnery. I’m equally sure that my predecessors felt exactly the same when, in 1920, the regiment was gunned and removed from 130 years in the cavalry role. We still did well as gunners nineteen years later and indeed throughout WWII, and we will continue in whatsoever role comes next.

Finally;
We didn't take enough personal responsibility for our own future. Let's sort that out.
In order to be responsible for our own future we need some insight as to how it is going to look. All the old truisms about ‘fighting the last war’ are all well and good, but without an honest conceptualisation from government of at least what shape they would like that future to be, we are blind. The TA cannot die, there is no possible way that UK PLC is in any position to unilaterally withdraw from either Iraq or Afghanistan at any stage in the near future, and without the Reserve (arguments over the definition of reserve aside) we are incapable of manning our commitments. We do need to change – but just as important – we need to be allowed to see which way to change and simply to be allowed to change.
 
#6
On a side note to this, does anyone know why in the Ilford area a girl that i spoke to today, was told by the RLC that (A) she needed a driving licence to join, and (B) they werent recruiting until after xmas ???

I found it quite ironic that the TA are supposedly in crisis and yet she has been told to go away, get a driving licence and come back next year ;)
 
#7
^Yep, no recruit courses with spaces for another 6 months. 6,000 a year leave, capacity to train 2,000 replacements. You couldn't make it up.
 
#8
a personal perspective on the ta's recruiting "difficulties". I recently signed off after a relatively brief period as a pte in northern inf. bn, following 3 years in the yeomanry (plus a gap of 8 months in between), and very enjoyable the latter stint was too (drivng a sabre, bang bang with the big gun etc.). unfortunately, the inf. was sh1t in comparison - it took them 10 (ten) months for them to get my details from glasgow, basically the recruting sgt was way out of their depth, recruit training seem well organised on weekends but little of value was achieved on the weeknight and hence I could see the enthusiams of the lads left waiting for hours in recuit reception just draining away. when I went back to hand my kit in, I saw not one face of the 15 or so I remembered from that f*cking room. I'll leave the grown ups to debate the (wretched) stats but I think a little lateral thinking is needed. if you want motivated guys staying in once they have got in the front door - the army will have to organise a induction/form filling/attestation/basic training event in a oner - i.e. 3 weeks away from the parent unit, close to the outset of the soldier's career, there are a lot of benefits to this - meet the regs early, help futher integration between stabs/regs, but obviously increased costs, narked employers etc. hope that 's useful.
 
#9
abacus said:
^Yep, no recruit courses with spaces for another 6 months. 6,000 a year leave, capacity to train 2,000 replacements. You couldn't make it up.
Which fairly much cuts to the heart of what I was saying, above. :(
 
#10
^Although my own Bde has now run 3 additional recruit courses, adding around 100 newly trained soldiers to the recovery total. And our request to do so was met with enthusiasm. If every Bde did that we would go a long way to solving the problem. (Not shouting at those who turn up, just those who turn up and moan that "someone" should do "something" - We are all someone, we all need to do our bit whether we get the acknowledgement for doing so or not.)
 

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