Times on Reservists

Imago

Old-Salt
Looked for a thread to which to add, but this piece - opinion in today's paper - didn't quite fit any of them.

Bring on the reserves and their proud history
Julian Brazier
Published at 12:01AM, January 18 2014

Despite recent recruitment fiascos, we must not lose sight of the need to reconnect the military and civilians
After the deeply unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, public interest in — and willingness to pay for — defence is disappearing. As our regular Army concentrates on a few large “super garrisons” and the National Service generation fades away, we are right to rebuild the connection between the military world and the civilian population: part-time reserves, locally recruited and based at more than 300 centres. This will enable Britain to afford this rebuilding; each reserve unit costs about a fifth of its regular counterpart and brings civilian skills and fresh thinking.
These reservists have often been undervalued by the regular military establishment, but today they should be recognised for their huge contribution. As the nation mobilised in 1914, the Secretary of State for War, Field Marshal Kitchener, derided the 250,000 strong Territorial Force as a “town clerks’ army” and sidelined them to create his “Kitchener” battalions from scratch. Yet Britain’s first commander in France, Sir John French, commented: “Without the assistance which the Territorials afforded between October 1914 and June 1915, it would have been impossible to hold the line in France and Belgium.”
The first territorial battalion into action in 1914 was 1/14th London Scottish, who distinguished themselves in the Army’s desperate stand in Flanders. They transferred to 56th (London) Division, one of the eight Territorial divisions that fought on July 1, 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
The division was selected for the dubious honour of creating a diversion, by attacking the strongest point on the German line, the formidable Gommecourt Salient, to help a breakthrough farther south. The Germans were entrenched behind acres of barbed wire, yet the division lacked the artillery to shred it. So they blew corridors through the wire with homemade Bangalore torpedoes (iron pipes filled with explosive). Incredibly, two hours on, they had captured all their objectives. Without reinforcements, or British success on either flank, the survivors were eventually driven out by overwhelming German forces. By then, three fifths were dead or wounded. By 1918 Territorials had provided two fifths of our combat units — and won 71 Victoria Crosses.
In the Second World War both Rommel and Montgomery picked out the all-reservist Australian 9th Division, commanded by General Leslie Morshead (a schoolteacher), for their most remarkable 8th Army tributes. Meanwhile three prewar reservists, David Stirling (full-time amateur mountaineer), Paddy Mayne (solicitor and rugby international) and Jock Lewis (British Council employee and Oxford oar) were, in Stirling’s words, “co-founders of the SAS”.
Since 2002, 28,000 British reservists have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Thirty have given their lives and 70 have won decorations for gallantry but since 2009 they have been used only as individual reinforcements, sidelining their commanders. Until last year, their training and equipment had also been repeatedly cut. Unsurprisingly, numbers and morale plummeted.
Yet the Americans use large numbers of reserve units, making use of their civilian as well as military skills. In Afghanistan, I have visited National Guard units with roles ranging from mentoring the Afghan Police to defending remote development task forces along the Pakistani border.
In Iraq their work with the civilian population, using their experience as policemen, businessmen and farmers, contrasted with the (mostly regular) British Army’s poor relationships with civilians — including the failure to recognise the murderous nature of the Iraqi Police. This cost Britain’s reputation dear when Iraqi forces had to recapture Basra, which our brave but badly directed forces had relinquished.
In Afghanistan, where the Army is now excelling itself, our partners the US Marines deploy many reserve units. Australia and Canada give peacekeeping tasks to their reserves, and have deployed combat companies to Afghanistan. All three allies have proportionately larger reserve forces than we plan to recruit.
Our strategic priority should be to rebuild the Royal Navy and maritime air reconnaissance — we are an island critically dependent on trade — not to swallow special pleading on regular army numbers. Some former officers argue the timeless refrain that modern war is too complicated for reservists. Yet Britain’s current senior commander in Afghanistan, Lieutenant-General John Lorimer, said in 2007, when commanding a brigade there: “Somme Company (of the TA London Regiment) was an outstanding body of men: well trained, highly motivated and exceptionally well led.” They are the regimental descendants of the 56th London Division, including London Scottish.
Many have cast doubt on our ability to recruit a trained strength of 30,000 reservists. The Army has recently carried out some excellent initiatives to reintegrate the reserves. Yet this is being overshadowed by the failure of the current recruiting campaign to achieve what are modest recruiting targets. Why?
Among other reasons, the application system shifted online, using software now declared unfit for purpose, and a system of medicals was introduced that breached the Data Protection Act, resulting in a year of chaos. After many months of units suffering utter frustration as thousands of applicants fell by the wayside, new leadership at the Army’s recruiting centre is sorting out the muddle.
The target of 30,000 trained reservists by 2018 is achievable. It will provide an immediate source of extra capability, a range of specialist skills, and a long-term framework for expansion not affordable on a full-time basis.
As General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley wrote of the First World War: “If [Kitchener] had reinforced the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) in France with units of the Territorial Force — as ultimately he was obliged to do . . . the BEF would have become by the end of 1915, a great and formidable force whose technical quality matched the moral . . . excellence of its men.” We must learn from history as well as from our English-speaking cousins today, and restore the principal link between the Army and the nation.

Julian Brazier is Conservative MP for Canterbury and Whitstable
 
Without sacking the reservist to give him/her plenty of time off.

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Imago

Old-Salt
Any idea on how to convince civvie firms to give the lads (and lasses) the time off they will need for training?
Reservist best known to me financed himself through two degrees on his TA commission, and had passed necessary courses etc to promote to Captain. Has not done so as he is so stupidly busy at work there is no question of having enough time to attend Some Weekends And Tuesdays. His employer? – the MoD …
 
Reservist best known to me financed himself through two degrees on his TA commission, and had passed necessary courses etc to promote to Captain. Has not done so as he is so stupidly busy at work there is no question of having enough time to attend Some Weekends And Tuesdays. His employer? – the MoD …

In that case he really hasn't asked. The MoD are the easiest to get time out from; ask any of the 20 or so peeps at my place.
 

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
It's not altogether surprising - most companies and even government departments will see TA soldiering as a hobby with huge potential business impact and hence will not be ecstatic about their folk doing it.
 
His employer? – the MoD …

Still Civvies.

Let's look at this holistically.

Stop beasting every cnut to death in order to tax them.

Bring back half days on Wednesdays, Sundays off, and slide in a hlaf day opening on Sat in the retail and any other suitable industry.A

llow a 'living tax break', nstead of all this pump about a 'living wage', so every single person can bank on 12k a year untouched. Then allow Spouses to pass their tax haven to their working wife/husband.

This allows a parent to provide 1:1/1:2 assistance to kids for school work, home cooking etc lowering childhood obesity ad improving academic and sporting achievement.

Ensure people work harder, for less time, by stipulating 30+ days holidays per year.

Cut corperation tax and NI contriutions for employers with Reservists.

No idea if it would help with the Reservists, but it probably wouldn't hurt recruitment.You've got to d

o something with your days off, and DIY is b0llocks.
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
when we had a hundred and forty odd thousand TA you couldn't avoid them they were everywhere and firms were used to it.

the past 20 years of slashing numbers and the corresponding increase in the 24-7 work culture makes it near impossible to fit TA in with working life unless you sacrifice.

and now it's so much harder to find a TAC without travelling.

york used to have two battalion headquarters, 2 headquarters companies, yeomanry an infantry platoon and an int unit all pretty well manned considering and 2 yorks mortars in beverly was practically company strength.

there was a connection with the public, racing around on a friday night and sunday afternoon they were familiar and also made it seem like the army was bigger than it actually was.

TA recruiters used to go into the 6th forms, the uni, apprentice schools and flyers up in the factories everywhere.

I think I've seen one 'come and join' flyer in 12 years down here and that wasn't even for the local TAC.
 
Not getting into that one because of security implications. Bottom line is that there are not enough staff anywhere.

I work in a DV environment: massively under-manned. All our guys get time off.


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I work in a DV environment: massively under-manned. All our guys get time off.


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So your department will put Reserve service before their main effort?

Civil Service at its finest. Then again, despite the diarrhea and vomiting aspect, you could simply be in a singularly unimportant department.
 
Apparently not. As per most STABs they do their day job in the TA, or as close a representation as is possible in the dressing up Brigade, so they see it as a bonus for their day jobs. Some of them even deploy, a lot.


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Not strictly my dept; I'm a dirty, stinking contractor.
 
Apparently not. As per most STABs they do their day job in the TA, or as close a representation as is possible in the dressing up Brigade, so they see it as a bonus for their day jobs. Some of them even deploy, a lot.

They do their day job in the TA - eh? FTRS?

If your department are as undermanned as you say, but have staff who frequently deploy, then your department really isn't that important.

Pretty obvious.
 
Apparently not. As per most STABs they do their day job in the TA, or as close a representation as is possible in the dressing up Brigade,

Ah; I *think* I see what you're trying to say here; that most Reservists ( not TA any more) carry out the same function in their Reserve service as they do in their main jobs.

Not heard of the Royal Artillery, for example?
 
They do their day job in the TA - eh? FTRS?

If your department are as undermanned as you say, but have staff who frequently deploy, then your department really isn't that important.

Pretty obvious.

Oh, dear. You really don't have a clue, do you? Why don't you leave this to those that have operational experience.


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Oh, dear. You really don't have a clue, do you? Why don't you leave this to those that have operational experience.



Much as I laud whatever you've done on Ops ( oddly enough, I'm happy to. Which will confuse you), this is about Reserve service and its interaction with the real world.

Given you're not a Reservist, and I am, can I suggest you move away from the keyboard until such time as you've sobered up?
 
Apparently not. As per most STABs they do their day job in the TA, or as close a representation as is possible in the dressing up Brigade, so they see it as a bonus for their day jobs.

Not in my experience mate. I don't know a single bloke (except me, and a couple of other PTIs) who do their day job in the TA. For the most part, blokes want to do something entirely different in the TA than they do in their 9-5 job.



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