Select Committee on Defence Sixth Report


49. The last few years have been a turbulent time for all the Reserve Forces, in particular the TA. We have taken a close interest in the performance of the MoD in nurturing these critical elements of our Armed Forces. We have done this because the Reserve Forces are, and will remain, a crucial component of the UK's defence capability.

50. In this short report, we have tried to highlight the need for more imagination in the use of Reserves, imagination of the kind which is being shown in a number of other countries. Some parts of the Volunteer Reserves have not fully settled down since the SDR. In particular the infantry and the medical Reserves will need revisiting, giving a better structure back to the former and a closer tie-in to civilian life to the latter. The case for more creative use of the Reserve Forces is, however, overwhelming. For example, if the Americans can have F15 Air Guard squadrons, and the Territorial Army can operate a successful helicopter regiment, it is puzzling that the RAF should remain so resolutely opposed to allowing formed flying units in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

51. There has been a little progress in the development of a few senior volunteer Reserve positions held part-time, but the number of commanding officers in posts in the Territorial Army held by territorials has actually declined. For the Volunteer Reserves to attract the quality of personnel they will need to continue to support our small professional regular forces, they must be allowed a larger voice—and a better career structure.

52. We also believe that Parliament owes a special duty of care to those volunteers who give so much time and effort to supporting the regular Armed Forces. We hope our successors will continue to take seriously the responsibility of Parliament to recognise the contribution of those volunteers to the maintenance of our peace and security, and will ensure that their voices are heard, and their needs continue to be met.

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