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 voiceand 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.