Why join the TA?

Discussion in 'Army Reserve' started by rook, Apr 1, 2008.

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  1. Hi all,

    I've been thinking about joining the TA, but the more I read the more dubious I become.

    From other posts on the message boards here, and what I am reading scattered around the internet, I'm coming to the conclusion that it's not really a "Territorial Army" but more of an unofficial reserve force, and is rapidly becoming part-time regular (if there is such a thing)

    The BBC report on the TA turning 100 today stated "If you join the TA you can expect to go to war."

    Well, no, I'm sorry, what's the point of the TA then? If I expected to go to war, or had the burning desire to, then I would join as a regular soldier. I would have the expectation as a member of the TA that I would be called upon in times of need to support regular troops, but not just as a general supplement to the main army.

    From the same article, it states that the TA was originally established "as a means of expanding the ranks of the regular army at a time of national crisis ", which I (and probably most civvies) would take to mean invasion of our territory or major war (i.e. world war 3).

    Speaking as a current outsider - I can't understand why most people would consider joining the TA.

    In my opinion, the TA should serve 3 purposes:
    1. Provide a pool of skilled, combat ready troops and the necessary support for those troops to defend the UK or any overseas territories from hostile action.
    2. Allow interested and willing TA soldiers to volunteer for and join military operations in support of the regular troops.
    3. Provide a recruitment conduit for civilians wanting a "taste" of the military life but unsure of whether they would be suitable to become a regular soldier.

    The impression I get from these forums is that the culture and attitude is that while "volunteering" for operations may be technically voluntary, it is socially mandatory within the regiment you join (there has been mention of "pressure to volunteer").

    A lot of the comments border on genuine contempt for the TA soldiers who are not interested in doing a tour of duty unless it's a genuine crisis - along the lines of "well, what value are you then?". I would contend that having a large, trained force of partisans which could supplement the main armed forces when necessary (this is key - when necessary) who are only trained on a part-time basis would be highly cost-effective.

    So, can anyone help me - why should I (or anyone) join the TA instead of the regular army?

    Please note, this post isn't intended to be deliberately inflammatory, so apologies in advance if I get anyones' hackles up - I'm just having doubts as to whether I should actually join the TA, or just wait until I'm ready to actively serve and then join the regular army.
  2. What paper do you work for?
  3. LOL,

    No I don't work for the press - I'm an IT consultant.

    I've going to a training event tonight to check out one of the infantry companies, but from what I'm reading I'm having serious doubts about whether I should go along or that I would just be wasting their time.
  4. So you can have all the fianancial benefits of a civvie job but still go on ops and carry out a role? Why would you join any organisation with the intention of not carrying out its primary function? Joining the TA without wanting to go ops these days is like becoming a paramedic and not expecting to have to sort out car crash victims, certainly in my own time in the TA I'd've expected to have gone on ops if much was in the offing, obviously the late 90s were a bit quieter then now. The role of an expansion force for mobilisation in case of emergency is obsolete IMHO, any war requiring major rapid expansion of the army would be a great power war, and ergo would probably go nuclear before the expansion was complete. No cuss to fellas who have been in the TA pre-2001, and who may be performing useful admin tasks, but anyone joining now should really expect to go on ops I think...
  5. Good points, well presented.

    Your reasoning is the same as what caused me to join - and to a large extent causes me to remain.

    The scope of the TA has changed over the last 12 years or so, effectively permitting the Powers-that-be to compulsorily mobilise individuals in the TA to augment Regular forces. (Previously it was "All, or none.")

    Although any of us CAN be compulsorily mobilised, current doctrine is that mobilisations are to be voluntary. It has to be stressed, though, that this is just CURRENT doctrine - the policy could change overnight and doesn't need to go through the courts.

    It would therefore be misleading to tell you that mobilisation is voluntary, because that's not what you'd be signing up to.

    Bear that in mind and the rest of your requirements are fulfilled.

    I take it you'll be calling into your local TA Centre tonight, then? :)
  6. Good point - I hadn't considered that the TA in that situation wouldn't really serve a useful purpose, and that it's not likely that the UK will enter into a full-scale defensive land war these days.

    But how many people really have jobs that would allow them to go out on Ops regularly without losing their job / damaging their career? Wouldn't it make sense then to expand the capability of the regular army and have attached units of volunteers, rather than a separate organisation of volunteers? Is that the eventual goal of the "one army" drive?
  7. Yeah, I was planning to - last minute doubts :p
  8. The Territorial concept is pretty outdated. The Russians aren't coming over the Rhine. The rest of the Army is strapped for cash and resources and not really inclined to subsidise a drinking and camping club for civvies. If you aren't prepared to go to war (without caveat as to where the fighting is), then why should the MOD pay you?
  9. Agreed, otherwise whats the point? Yes theres the usual stuff about skills that are transferrable to your civi job but the TA as an organisation is not the same as it was 10 years ago or even 5 years ago. Bounty hunters are slowly being weeded out and the dead wood cut away and I think we are much the better for it. The public perception of the TA used to be of a fat 50 year old Cpl sitting at a desk drinking tea, or Gareth from the office types. I think that the nature of the work being undertaken by TA soldiers on operations over the last few years has changed that image dramatically.

    To the original poster; It sounds like you have talked yourself out of joining before you have even set foot in your local TAC. I think that rather than asking us why you should join you should be asking yourself what your reasons for wanting to join in the first place were.
  10. And I accept that - which I why I'm asking the question. It may be that I'm over-intellectualising it, but I still have the fundamental (perhaps civilian) mentality that if I'm going to fight in a war then it would have to be one I believe we should be fighting. So I know I'm not suited to being a regular soldier, and it sounds like I'm probably not right for the TA.
  11. Oh dear, we're heading back into the debate about whether TA soldiers SHOULD volunteer for mobilisation or merely should be AVAILABLE for mobilisation. It's a subject that's been done to death in earlier posts and doubtless will be repeated many,many more times....... <yawn>

    Rook - You can follow this debate elsewhere, but the insider tip about the debate is that it's largely an Infantry v. non-Infantry thing. The Infantry's reason for existence is to fight. Only by putting themselves to the test can they prove that their training is effective. I'm not knocking this - without the Infantry, the Army would be a total waste of effort.

    The trouble is that the young infantryman often doesn't recognise that there is a massive organisation that gives him the ability to be effective and that the soldiers in this back-up organisation, even if deployed, still wouldn't be on the front line. So mobilisation, for them, doesn't prove a great deal.

    A Vehicle Mechanic in UK and a Vehicle Mechanic in Iraq will still be up to their elbows in grease and cogs, the difference being that the one in UK will probably be working in a garage, away from the heat/dust/rain (delete according to season). (Acknowledged that this is a bit of a simplification).

    Work on the basis that you'll be making yourself available for mobilisation if you join and ignore the ignorant remarks that if you don't volunteer for mobilisation then you must be a coward. If you're needed, someone WILL call and you'll be expected to turn up. And your training in the meantime won't have been wasted, will it?
  12. Far from talking himself out of joining, he's merely minimising the risk of changing his mind once he's in. If he did that, then doubtless you'd be calling him gutless.

    The lad is being sensible.

    He has set out what he's looking for in the TA and his aims seem achievable - provided that he accepts that there is a mechanism already in place that could mobilise him if his presence is deemed necessary. That's what duty is about. Volunteering for mobilisation, on the other hand, isn't duty (because it still isn't part of the contract). It's a personal desire. You haven't done your DUTY by volunteering, you've been helpful and, quite rightly, that should be appreciated. But it doesn't give you the right to disparage those who ARE doing their DUTY.
  13. That has never been a privilege for the regulars and cannot be assumed to be a reliable one (as opposed to the current administrative process) for the reserve. I am only aware of one area of the services where you are routinely given any form of moral option (SSBNs).

    Go in to politics and change the way the b*ggers machinate.
  14. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    The peer pressure to mobilise that you talk of, only really exist amongst junior ranks in the Infantry and even then if you had a good reason for not volunteering i.e. job/family situation, nobody gets in a bother about it, there's plenty of lads lining up for the next tour. If you don't feel like being leaned on to mobilise, then I can recommend the R Signals. From what I can tell from your post, the TA Signals would probably suit your needs.

    I would recommend the TA to 'anyone' on the basis that it's a great way to do an Operational Tour, close with and kill the Queen's enemies without having to give up your civilian job, relocate and stag on for a year or so in between tours.

    Why should you join? Well judging you by your post alone, I'm guessing that perhaps the TA isn't for you. Don't worry there's plenty of other ways people like you can serve your country; Special Constabulary, St. John's Ambulance, Cadet Instructor, RayNet Geek ...
  15. but has been for the territorials (WW1 opting for overseas service included Ireland which meant a small proportion refused to opt in)