The Defence Committee has agreed to the following
GOVERNMENT OBSERVATIONS ON THE SIXTH REPORT FROM
THE COMMITTEE, SESSION 1998-99
The Committee published its Sixth Report of Session
1998-99, on The Reserves Call Out Order 1999 and Progress on Territorial
Army Restructuring (HC 860), on 8 November 1999. The government's
response to this report was received on 13 January 2000 and is
published as Annex A to this Special Report. We also publish as
Annex B to this report the Ministry of Defence's latest Quarterly
Report to the Committee on the progress of Territorial Army restructuring
following the Strategic Defence Review.
1. The Government has noted the Sixth Report of the
1998-99 Session by the Defence Committee, published on 8 November
1999, and has the following observations.
2. The Government observes that three call-out orders
have in fact have been made since the Reserve Forces Act 1996
took effect in April 1997, one in each year.
3. The Government notes the Committee's view that
the on-going process of improvements in the administration of
the mobilisation is continuing, but that there is still room for
improvements in the areas of pay administration and training.
The establishment of the Reserves Training and Mobilisation Centre
has resulted in a marked improvement in the provision of all pay
and administration services to mobilised Army reservists and the
difficulties experienced previously have largely been resolved.
Formal targets for pay administration are currently being met
and are due to be benchmarked in mid 2000 prior to the transfer
of responsibility of Personnel Pay and Pensions Administration
to the Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency in October
2000. The Reserves Training and Mobilisation Centre carries out
its own evaluation of the mobilisation and demobilisation processes
using data provided by individuals in a questionnaire.
4. The Reserves Training and Mobilisation Centre
also provides pre-deployment training using its own dedicated
staff, this training is considered to meet current requirements
although training needs are kept under review. Such a review is
ongoing at present following a visit to the Balkans theatre to
verify the needs of units when deployed.
5. The Reserves Training and Mobilisation Centre
is adopting the European Business Excellence Model which will
further assist in the formal evaluation of all its outputs. The
Reserves Training and Mobilisation Centre thus far has conducted
a self-assessment feedback report against the criteria of the
model. Verifiable targets will be set against which subsequent
performance can be measured.
6. The Government notes the Committee's expectation
that the Ministry of Defence will set itself qualitative targets
for meeting its concerns, and will report its progress in achieving
them. The Government is satisfied that current procedures for
administration and training at the Reserves Training and Mobilisation
Centre are meeting the requirement although we are not complacent
and procedures are monitored to facilitate refinement. Since call
out is a process to bring reservists into full time service to
meet emergency operational situations, requirements are continually
changing. This makes comparative reporting difficult and in some
cases meaningless. The Government therefore does not believe that
submitting regular reports would be helpful.
7. The Government welcomes the Committee's praise
for the Reserves Training and Mobilisation Centre, its Commanding
Officer and staff. The Centre has proved its worth since it became
operational in April 1999. Since then over 900 reservists have
been mobilised in support of the Army's operations in Bosnia and
Kosovo, with 650 demobilised. The creation of the Reserves Training
and Mobilisation Centre was a significant step towards meeting
the Government's continuing commitment to the Territorial Army
and Reserves, reinforcing the importance of their role.
8. The Government notes the Committee's concerns
regarding the capacity of the Reserves Training and Mobilisation
Centre. It has sufficient capacity at present to meet current
steady state demands, however the Army is examining the expansion
requirements necessary to cater for surge mobilisation for the
Large Scale of Effort. Specifically it is examining the costs
involved in the refurbishment of the basic infrastructure services
for Building 178 and will be testing them for affordability.
9. The Government disagrees with the Committee's
view that the rate at which Territorials and other volunteer reservists
are volunteering for full-time service appears to have drastically
fallen. The number of reservists mobilised this year is greater
than for each of the two previous years, as shown in the table
Number of reservists called out and accepted into permanent service
||1998||1999 (to 31 Oct)
|| 3|| 7
|| 0|| 0
|| 11|| 74
|Army Reserve|| 369
Although the Army Reserve and the RAFR are not volunteer
reserve forces as defined in the Reserve Forces Act 1996, both
forces contribute reservists to support operations and they are
therefore included in the table.
10. The Government notes the Committee's concerns
that there were no plans to use serving part-time territorials
for marketing activities aimed at employers, but points out that
it already does so. Nearly all of the Service officers who are
currently employed on the employers' support marketing and public
relations campaigns are members of the volunteer reserve forces,
and that more are likely to become involved.
11. The Government shares the Committee's view that
the balancing of military requirements, individual wishes and
employers' needs is vital to the success of call outs. The Government
aims to be as flexible as possible in the length of call out
12. The Government notes the Committee's concern
that the strength of the Territorial Army is being reduced at
a time of high levels of operational commitments. However, the
operational demand is for Territorial Army personnel trained in
particular specialist areas and these are not the areas that are
13. The Government notes the Committee's request
for information on the strength of personnel in different functions,
and an assessment of progress towards achieving the required skill
mix in the Territorial Army. Detailed quarterly returns of actual
manpower showing the difference in numbers by skill or trade are
not held centrally; we are therefore considering how best to assist
the Committee in this regard. The request for a qualitative report
is also under consideration to establish what statistical evidence
could be produced to support such a report.
14. With regard to the recruitment of Territorial
Army medical reservists, our aim is to achieve full manning as
soon as possible. A focussed recruitment marketing campaign specifically
aimed at the medical services of the Territorial Army was launched
on 23 September 1999 and will continue until the end of the year.
Initial indications are encouraging but it is too early to assess
the full impact of the recruitment campaign.
15. The Government notes the Committee's concerns
regarding the proportion of the Territorial Army assessed as fit
for role and the number of man training days per volunteer. Because
of the readiness levels at which the Territorial Army was held
during the period 1 April 1998 to 31 March 1999, it was expected
that approximately 50% of the TA would be fit for role; the level
of 49% for the period was therefore acceptable. Training days
were also at an acceptable level over the period.
16. The Government notes the Committee's concerns
regarding the proportion of Permanent Staff instructors. Permanent
Staff levels are generally higher than they were pre-SDR when
considered as a ratio to total Territorial Army numbers. The Territorial
Army Establishment Review will allow for a re-examination of the
organisation at the end of the first year if it is obvious that
the required standard of training is not being achieved.
17. The Quarterly Report submitted for the period
from January to April 1999 contained an error in the statistics
reported for numbers of regular and non-regular Permanent Staff.
In fact, there were 1,374 non-regular Permanent Staff and 1,713
regular Permanent Staff. This mistake has been corrected in the
latest quarterly reports to the Committee.
18. The Government notes the Committee's view that
reductions in the trained strength of the Territorial Army should
be suspended or that generous overbearing should be offered to
Territorial Army units. The Territorial Army capabilities which
have been subject to the greatest reductions are not those which
are in heavy demand in the Regular Army, and retention of these
elements of the Territorial Army would not have been effective
in alleviating problems of overstretch. The Government agrees
on the need for flexibility in the transitional period. The change
in emphasis in the new structure of the Territorial Army from
combat to combat support roles will make the force more effective
and usable for supporting the type of operational deployments
the Regular Army is required to undertake today.
19. The Government welcomes the Committee's support
for compulsory call out of the Territorial Army for peacekeeping
tasks. The Feasibility Study into compulsory mobilisation of the
Territorial Army to sustain Peace Support Operations in the Balkans
has now been completed, and has concluded that compulsory mobilisation
is feasible in both legal and practical terms. This will enable
the TA to make a major contribution to front-line operations and
reflects and supports the intent of the SDR that the TA should
be usable. At the same time, as a result of the reduction in the
force levels in the Balkans, we judge that compulsory mobilisation
is not operationally necessary at this time.
20. The Government notes the Committee's concern
that frequent call out could put a strain on the relationship
between the volunteer, employer and the Ministry of Defence, and
that the Ministry of Defence will need to demonstrate that the
post-SDR establishment of the Territorial Army can successfully
accommodate the compulsory call out of formed units. MOD will
keep the possibility of compulsory mobilisation under constant
review in the light of operational requirements and any decision
to call out elements of the TA compulsorily will take into account
the needs of employers and employees.
Ministry of Defence, 13 January 2000
First Report, Session 1998-99, The Strategic Defence Review:
Territorial Army Restructuring, HC 70, paras 47 and 48; Sixth
Report, Session 1998-99, The Reserves Call-out Order 1999 and
Progress of Territorial Army Restructuring HC 860, paras 17
to 22 and Ev p 2 Back