Joint Committee on Draft Civil Contingencies Bill First Report

Appendix 8: Note by Mr Garth Whitty, Specialist Adviser to the Committee - Military Support

Military Support

Military Support is provided to government departments, the civil powers and the civil community under the auspices of MACA (Military Aid to the Civil Authorities). There are four categories of military support potentially available.

Regular Forces

  • Dedicated assets - military capability that will be provided on request through the appropriate channels by specialist units. The most obvious example is bomb disposal teams.
  • Non-dedicated assets - local or specialist military units that subject to commitments may be available on request.

Volunteer and Reserve Forces

  • Dedicated assets - Civil Contingency Reaction Forces of 500 volunteer personnel in each region. Not yet available.
  • Non-dedicated assets- local Royal Navy Reserve, Territorial Army and Royal Air Force Reserve units that may be available on request.

Reaction Forces (from SDR: the New Chapter)

  • A Reaction Force of, on average, some 500 Volunteer Reserves would be established in each region - in principle giving a total of some 6,000 or so Volunteer Reserves in Reaction Forces nation-wide.
  • We would use the Army's regional brigade areas for this purpose, since this corresponds to the system of Government Offices for the Regions and to the Devolved Administration structure.
  • Reaction Forces would comprise only individuals who agree to take on this additional commitment, drawn from all Volunteer Reserve units within the regional brigade area.
  • The organisational framework for Reaction Forces would be provided by an existing major Volunteer Reserve unit in each region - most probably a Territorial Army infantry battalion.
  • The decision to deploy a Reaction Force would follow a request from the civil authorities for military assistance. A recommendation to deploy a Reaction Force would then be made by the regional military commander with responsibility for home defence and security, who would exercise his judgment as to which of the forces at his disposal, including the Reaction Force but also Regular Forces, best match the requirements of the situation.
  • To avoid holding up the deployment of Reaction Forces pending the issue of an appropriate mobilisation order, initial reporting would be on a voluntary basis. To give the Volunteer Reservist the necessary employment protection, the Government would expect to initiate mobilisation procedures after 36 hours, under the Reserve Forces Act 1996.

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