Select Committee on Defence Sixth Report


The Defence Committee has agreed to the following Report:—



  1. The Strategic Defence Review (SDR) in 1998 proposed a radical change in the size, structure and work of the Reserve Forces, and in particular the Territorial Army (TA). At the time of its publication we were unconvinced that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had made the right decisions, and we set out our concerns in our Report on the SDR.[8] Since then we have produced two further Reports on the Reserve Forces.[9] In our last Report we commented on the first stage in the restructuring of the Territorial Army and concluded that it was "too early to judge the overall health of the Territorial Army and other Reserve Forces,"[10] and undertook to continue to monitor the Territorial Army. Since the publication of that Report, the MoD has completed phase 2 of its TA restructuring programme: it has also completed the restructuring of the Territorial Auxiliary and Volunteer Reserve Associations (TAVRAs), their transformation into the Reserve Forces and Cadets Associations and the redrawing of the boundaries of the Associations within England. The MoD in its 1999/2000 Performance Report stated that "the TA restructuring process was completed on time and within budget".[11] We therefore felt that an update on the health of the Reserves was now timely.

2. In the conclusion of our recent report on the SDR's Policy for People, the Committee commented on the MoD's Overarching Personnel Strategy that—

    ... it may be that they [the MoD] are guilty of a lack of imagination: particularly in a 'one size fits all' approach to the three Services, in a balance between full and part-time personnel and above all in a lack of imagination in harnessing existing civilian assets.[12]

It is against this background that the Committee offers this fresh look at the Reserve Forces.

3. We took oral evidence on 8 November 2000 from Brigadier Richard Holmes CBE TD**, Director, Reserve Forces and Cadets, Brigadier Andrew Durcan, Deputy Inspector General, TA, Land Command, Ms Diana Seammen, Command Secretary, Land Command, and Air Vice-Marshal Nigel Sudborough, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations, HQ Strike Command, Ministry of Defence. Following this the Committee heard from Colonel Mike Taylor, CBE TD DL, Chairman of the new Council of the Reserve Forces and Cadets Associations, and his colleagues, Colonel Patrick Robinson, TD DL, West Midland RFCA, and Commodore Ian Pemberton, RD** DL, Chairman, Wessex RFCA.

8  Eighth Report, Session 1997-98, The Strategic Defence Review, HC 138 Back

9  Fifth Report, Session 1997-98, The Reserves Call-out Order 1998, Etc., HC 868, and the First Report, Session 1998-99, The Strategic Defence Review: Territorial Army, HC 70 Back

10  Sixth Report, Session 1998-99, The Reserves Call-out Order 1999 and Progress of Territorial Army Restructuring, HC 860, para 25 Back

11  Cm 5000, para 55 Back

12  Second Report, Session 2000-01, The Strategic Defence Review: Policy for People, HC 29-i, para 174 Back

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