The TA covenant

Discussion in 'Army Reserve' started by Rocket_Scientist, Aug 18, 2009.

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  1. Would anyone care to discuss ?

    As the TA moves from being a framework to rapidly expand the army with formed units towards being a facilitating organisation for individuals to go on Ops without joining the regulars...has the CofC got its head round :

    What is the TA recruiting offer of the future ? (whats in it for the man on the street?)

    Is there a large enough demographic group out there that is willing and able (from an employment viewpoint) to go on Ops, but does not want to join the regulars ?

    Would this desire for tours (and employer support for tours) extend past the first tour?

    If a decent level of training is only available to those shortly going on Ops, why would others remain if they are not able or willing to go.

    If units cease being units, and become production lines for getting civvys off the streets and training them for deployment ASAP, isnt this strangely reminiscent of a voluntary version of the US draft, or a UK National Service. (you leave your civvy life for a couple of years and do a tour)
  2. I did coin the term "Very Short Engagement" a couple of years ago as a suggestion on this. I'm rejoining and most everyone is wanting to go on an ops tour. That is the reason for joining, they (we) are just doing it without giving up our civvy lives. Quite a few cited recent redundancy/unemployment as a motivator in joining.
  3. Timely - was sat discussing this with a friend last night over dinner.

    Reached the conclusion that "in the current economic climate - yes".

    As to where this will be when the economy recovers - possibly we are building a bigger problem for the future?
  4. I have a lot to do with recruits (SuTs) and I agree that almost all of the current ones can't wait to get on Ops.
    However most of them are young and either see the TA as a stepping stone to the regulars anyway, or are not looking beyond the first tour at how they are going to combine a multi tour TA career with a good enough civ career to support a family. I would suggest to them that if they are happy to make the TA and tours the centre of their lives, and fit civ work casually round that then they would be better off actually going regular!

    The problem I think is that this "Ops or F'off" attitude from the high ups is shrinking the gene pool of people that will be able to join the TA of the future, and this is going to manifest itself 10-20 years down the line as virtually no-one will have a flexible enough civillian life (employment and family) that they can survive the 4 or more tours necessary to stay in the TA 20 years and become an SSM/CSM. I've heard it said "that is fine, we dont have vacancies for SSMs on Ops anyway", which suggests a move away from having TA units with proper rank structures, towards having a pool of reservists who are all fairly junior. I've had most of my career in the TA now, but I cant imagine that I would be able to join again if I was 17.5 now, and knowing that I would be pushed on fairly regular tours, as I have combined TA service with a successful civ career. I just can't see employers putting up with more than one tour per employee.
  5. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    I agree with Rocket Scientist here, I cant imagine a 40 something married man wanting to risk it all for a few months on ops, I also cant see companies willing to allow their staff to carry on deploying every couple of years especially those experienced in management!
    That said my next door neighbour is about to go again, I'm really not sure how his wife copes, a good job his employer is really good about it especially as they are laying off loads of managers!
  6. The_Duke

    The_Duke LE Moderator

    The key aspect is the reality of soldier turnover. The average TA soldier serves for around 3 years before leaving - this was the case before Iraq/Afghanistan and remains so now. The difference is that now the expectation is that they will serve a tour within that period.

    The vulnerable area is not the high turnover in the junior ranks, but the loss of those who might otherwise have stayed in and promoted, but now leave because they are unable to manage the tour rotation. this leaves us with 2 possible solutions:

    1. The senior positions will be held by those whose jobs support a higher level of TA commitment (either by accident or design).

    2. The tour expectation and profile needs adjusting to allow the best candidates to remain in whilst still maintaining the currency and credibility that operational experience provides.

    In my opinion, option 1 is pretty much in place anyway. Those with very demanding work/home lives often struggle to meet the TA commitment (regardless of Ops) and self-select out once it all gets too much. Looking around my own unit, many of the senior TA positions are filled with people whose jobs allow that level of flexibility; self employed, state employed (police for example) or in a few cases with very supportive employers.

    Option 2 is harder to manage, but can be done with greater flexibility. If the first tour is done within 2 years of joining (for example), then it is reasonable to expect a full tour - after all, it is what many people join for. If the return from ops and reintegration is managed well, you stand the chance of keeping that soldier. If they next move into the "mobilisation window" 5 years later, then the first consideration is whether they are with the same employer. If they are, it is a harder issue to address. If not, perhaps it is easier as it is the first time that employer has had to face the issue.

    This is also the point where the intelligent application of intelligent mobilisation rears it's head. As an NCO or Capt there are any number of worthwhile (if not very warry jobs) which can be done as a 3 month tour. If they are Bastion-based, then RTMC and OPTAG is really all that is needed before deployment, allowing that post to be filled for 3 months with less than 6 months disruption to the reservists life. This is much more manageable than the 11 months disruption a full tour imposes.

    This cycle continues throughout the reservists career, with a careful analysis of the risk/reward balance of that person being mobilised at each turn of the wheel. Perhaps formalising options instead of mobilisation could be considered as well. By this I mean that your time as OC or CSM counts in lieu of a tour for that "cycle" because it is a key position and can be declared "non-deployable". The same could be offered for a formal posting to an RTC. If you are unable to deploy, but still wish to add value you do so in a formally recognised (and time intensive) manner rather than just floating around as a generic "enabler". This joker could be played, say, once in very 3 tour cycles allowing a 15 year commitment with 2 deployed tours (one long, one short) and one high-value non deployed tour.
  7. msr

    msr LE

    If that isn't one of the most intelligent bits of thinking I have seen this year, I don't know what is.

  8. This got me thinking "Why have a special covenant for the TA?"

    Covenant + One Army... to be applied across the board?

    Regular Army Harmony guidelines say 24 months between tours, so over a 3 year period its a one third two thirds split... one third on tour, two thirds not on tour. If the same were to be applied to the TA that would mean that for a TA soldier to give up 11 months (330 days say) for a tour they should have done 660 MTD's, which at 30 days a year would take 22 years.

    Of course we don't work like this. But given the tour window works over a 5 year cycle, then from one viewpoint you could very easily argue that TA soldiers are expected to spend proportionally much more of their 'military time' deployed than regular soldiers...
  9. have i killed a thread here... or are you all lost in amazement?
  10. Possibly TB!

    Duke - Outstanding post. The employer "buy-in" is going to be essential if we are to end up with a sustainable model.
  11. Duke, One problem I see with option 1 is that it tends to attract as "seniors" those who cannot cut it in a high-power civvy job. Not all, not perhaps a majority, but still.... and that often means that they are not the cream of the crop at any task. Overall I think that the current Ops tempo means the TA has lost some of the brighter stars and "dumbed down". That may not be the case in your line of work, where you still attract the highly motivated, maybe not in the Inf or RAC....but down in the weeds of the CSS Corps how many of the Mess members would you want on your University Challenge team....

    How to attract bright, fit people to stay after that first tour is correctly identified as a major issue. The only way most employers will wear it is if they get a real pay-back. I'd suggest one option would be that they get a rebate on their NI "for their contribution to the nation" ?

    Easier movement TA to Reg and back would be one option to attract some, particularly ex-Regs, who, if it were simpler could take a bit of a break - say for the first kid or whatever - then return. FTRS has worked, sort-of, but the stop-start recruiting policies and months of "process" do not make it that attractive - and the miserable mess-about that Ex Regs get with pensions is an absolute disincentive to return - wasting how much valuable training ?.

    Above all the MOD needs to recognise that they cannot forever rely on the goodwill of the volunteers. To get this to work properly the offer is going to have to be good and the systems simple. That will cost money.
  12. msr

    msr LE

    And the offer is going to have to be communicated and maintained. That will cost serious money.

  13. Which is why it won't happen.
  14. Recruitment time could be speeded up too. I walked through the door in February. Notwithstanding that I was delayed due to snags on my medical for 8 weeks it's still pretty crazy that it'll be April next year before I've finished CIC.
  15. Thinking back, 22 years ago, this process took me about 7 months total.