Select Committee on Defence Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter from Colonel J. Putnam, CBE TD DL, South East Reserve Forces and Cadets' Association (20 October 2000)

  We spoke on various matters concerning the Territorial Army and Cadets not least of my concerns at the lack of career paths for young officers, particulary in the Infantry. This particular problem is having an effect on retention of young officers and, not surprisingly, their recruitment and commissioning in the first place.

  RMA, Sandhurst runs 4 commissioning courses for TA Officers in the year and each course can accommodate 90-100 candidates. This year to date there have been 3 courses and the results from those attending each course were as follows:

        Course 002—35 Passes—3 Failures;

        Course 004—19 Passes—2 Failures;

        Course 006—51 Passes—7 Failures.

  I obtained these figures today directly from HQ LAND.

  Clearly, we have an officer recruiting problem and both ourselves, RFCAs and Recruiting Group are aware of the problem and plans are in hand to dedicate funds and activity towards closing this issue down. However, I believe that we may have ended up with a TA which may be being perceived as not worth joining. A radical statement I know but one we suggested might be the case when the outcome of SDR was announced.

  As mentioned above the other key issue was the lack of career paths on offer to young officers and others within the new infantry battalion structure and establishment.

  Critically, the company commanders of the future will not have the right experience and there will subsequently, therefore, be a dearth of TA officers qualified to be COs.

  You will hear of plans to focus a campaign on officer recruiting but the career paths must be there to secure the attention of the quality people we need. Another concern is that too many officers in the subaltern-captain range are too old, ie of the wrong age group, which merely adds to our overall concerns.

  All of these issues are compounded by the thin "spread" of the TA as a whole, but we have to learn to cope with that. There is no doubt that the officer problem could be alleviated to some extent by the return of the Direct Entry route for the potential officers.

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