The Change in The TA Role

Discussion in 'Army Reserve' started by smallbore, Sep 27, 2006.

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  1. Going back about 30 years now - to the late 70's and early 80's the role of the TA was to support the Army during the great Soviet invasion of West Germany.

    In those days the TA was a key part of the grand plan. We had TA infantry companies that knew a particular area or bridge like the back of their hand.

    I recall a Brigadier saying that a particular task would be better done by the TA than regular troops. Simply because that TA unit had trained for that one task (a reserved demolition for example, I believe) and while the regulars were theoretically masters of every possible task the TA units had one task absolutely mastered.

    In those days the TA units were given one task to do well. And they could. Now the TA are given all the tasks and simply do not have the training time to learn them all.
    So instead of being absolute experts at one thing they become not very good at everything.

    The change has come because the TA units are no longer are asked to learn one specific job but instead to be just "filling-in-meat".

    Am I right ? Discuss.
  2. that we are not good at anything, many TA units are good at a number of military tasks.

    We still dont have infantry in the armoured inf role and they concentrate on the light role instead, well within the capabilities of part time soldiers.

    Specialist units like 104Bn REME are probably as good, at their civvi trades, as their regular counterparts because they also do it for a living (loads are RAC and AA patrolmen, run garages and work as plant mechanics) and at the end of the day a greasy dirty old engine is just that regardless of what vehicle its mounted in. Now if they could spend their training days doing mil skills rather than adding man hours to regular REME workshops they would be even better and significantly happier!.

    Now of course there is also a comparitively huge pool of operational experience to draw from which when I joined the TA in 1981 was not the case.

    If the TA were not, as you suggest, very good they would not be getting used on operations they might even have been sacked and consigned to the history books.

    However there is a need for more man training days, no more Cat C unpaid training but properly funded military training. I reckon a specialist unit with 19 days sees most of its soldiers doing around 30 and an independant unit with 35 doing around 60?? Funding for MTD's should be much greater and where possible more concentrated on military skills.

    But make no mistake the TA is still very good indeed and very experienced.

  3. Harking back to the glory years of the Cold War again. When are we going to get out of this mindset? Whether the TA was good, bad or indifferent then is broadly irrelevant now, except to historians. The Armed Forces (and country) faces entirely different challenges. Individuals trained, almsot automaton like, to die on a particular objective are not really required at the moment.

    You are starting from the wrong place. Start from the perspective of the likely conflicts and enemies, then work back and see whether (and where) a reserve component of the British Army can help. Add recent experiences of TA mobilisation - both as individuals and formed units, and I believe you will answer your question.

    If you still want to consider things in a historical perspective, review the changes that have occurred in the Regular Army (our customer) and see where we have, or haven't mirrored those.
  4. It went away, I can find several units using out of date kit, training for a role they will never be used for. Admittedly they are supplying IR's but their training is hoplessly out of date and focusing on the wrong areas (unless the aim is to provide drivers).
    An example would be training soldiers on Message handling on equipment the regulars don't use e.g. COSSORs. Why?
  5. Dilfor, those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.

    What the cold war shows us is what a good reserve force, when properly funded and with a proper spot in the larger organisation is capable of (LOTS!!! 8) )

    What the nineties and the time of reaping ' peace dividend' shows us is how easy it is to destroy such a reserve organisation!
  6. *spits on historians* - useless bunch of vagabonds. :D

    A slightly tangential view is that the TA are the bridge between the distant world of the regular army and the local community.

    As Kipling observed there has always been a tenuous relationship between the military and the civvies. As the army has shrunk and regiments lose their county statuses, becoming No. 1 Regiment, Faceless Fannies, the TA keep the army's end up by dint of them being the 'local militia'.

    In days of yore local country regiments would be ubiquitous, training on the village green. I'm guessing that recruiting is far harder for the infantry since these links have been severed?
  7. msr

    msr LE

    Ah yes, but the TA was never tested in this role. We have been tested in the role we now have and not been found (for the most part) wanting.

  8. Thank you MSR. Whilst I would love to see a better funded reserve organisation, I believe our spot in the larger organisation (at least in my cap badge under the pairing arrangements) could not realistically be much better.

    I suspect that, had we been tested in the Cold War, we may have been found out to be the enthusiastic but possibly rather amateurish cannon fodder that we were. This is not now the case, and continues to change for the better. There is still much to do (as described above in terms of training/kit etc) but we need to be clear where we are heading.

    We shouldn't forget the role of the TA in the Cold War - but we shouldn't try to repeat it now either.
  9. Heres a question

    Which of these roles do you feel that the TA is best employed in, now before you choose I would like you to pick due to best operational requirement, ot by individual desires

    a) Should the TA (in part) mirror the Regular Army to provide one to one replacements and/or deploy as an extra Coy/Bty/Sqn to the Bn/Regt (pretty much where we are now)


    b) Take responsibility for the lesser used areas of the military that will only come to play when the big balloon goes up. For Example, in the RA Guns and STA are always of use in the current clime, but Depth (MLRS) and Air Defence would only really be used if we had to fight a "major" power case in mind I have is the RY who have the NBC Recce role. That way whole regiments would be free to re-trade to something of "use". This of course could possibly mean the end of TA Infantry

  10. Edit- Wellyhead got in first with a similar point :D


    And yet ........

    The current pattern of use of the TA & Reserves has been going on for 3 years now?

    Prior to that, TA soldiers have deployed to FRY and on Op GRANBY.

    The deployements on Op GRANBY were to support high-intensity warfighting, even though it didn't turn out to be the case for long.

    Our counterparts, the Regular Army, train for high tempo / high intensity operations with heavy armour and artillery. The reason it's done like this is that if you can operate under those conditions, it's possible to work back to a PSO role with some retraining. It's much more difficult to ramp up from perpetual PSO to a big set-piece battle.

    I suggest you be cautious about drawing to many conclusions about the role of the TA based on the last few years, if the TA role is as IRs and formed sub-units to support the Regular Army.

    If the MoD wants a PSO-support organisation, then the TA is currently the wrong shape to provide that.
  11. There are alot of good specialist roles the TA fill and do so with great results -Medical in particular and some RE roles. As Logistic support to the Regular Army they are worth their weight in gold.

    TA Inf Bn's on the other hand (with the Exception of 4 Para) are only really effective has battlefield replacements. The fact of the matter is you couldn't ask a TA Bn to take on the sort of task 3 Para have just done in Helmand. There are alot of good TA Infanteer's but there are also alot of very poor one's. Having seen both sides of the fence i would not be comfortable being supported by a TA Inf Bn.
    I know alot of people will disagree with me but having been TA, then Regular and finally TA again i speak with some experience.

    As pointed out the training needs to changed -or better still make the TA like the National Guard. Far too many TA soldiers are put off a weekends training just because it's raining. I've spent most of my adult life sitting in wet holes in the ground, dedicated TA soldiers will. I am sure you can all think of people who only turn up on range days or sunny weekends.

    Make the training interesting, improve attendance and retention and maybe we will see TA bn's used as a whole unit.
  12. I dont know where you get the idea that 4 para are much better than any other TA Inf Bn. They deployed on Op Telic 7 as Cassino Coy and had attachments from other TA units (Tyne Tees Reg I believe). A friend of mine involved in the RTMC/OPTAG package said that he was shocked with 4 para's fitness and 'skills and drills'. Apparently many of the attached personel came out above the 4 para lads.
  13. msr

    msr LE

    Let's not drag this into inter-unit slagging.

    FB - what structure do you propose?

  14. I might add i have never served in 4 Para.
  15. Way above my pay grade to figure that one out :D

    The model Wellyhead mentions was the case for some units in the '80s.

    Then came Op GRANBY, and the Regular Army found it couldn't deploy any field laundries for example as that task had been given to the TA years before, under the "we will only need them in WW3" principle.

    The RAOC sent their guys to the Gulf and did a sterling job.

    The Army, both Regular & TA, is far too big a beast and with such a long development timescale, that changing the way it works in response to the experience of only a few years might be considered a bit hasty.

    At the moment, we need IRs for PSO. Who knows what we will need in 3 years time, when the current crop of recruits are approaching the point where they could be usefully deployed on Ops.

    I believe the current system is not too far from what we need. Building a reserve of folk who have a speciality such as Inf, Fm Recce or Artillery that could be used in general war, but who can also operate under the "soldier first" principle as Force Protection and PSO patrols if we are still on TELIC, HERRICK or whatever is next.