Select Committee on Defence Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the Ministry of Defence (13 April 2000)

  1.  Thank you for your letter of 24 March in which you asked for a note on:

    (a)  the Call-out Order made under section 56 Reserve Forces Act 1996 to allow members of the reserve forces to be called out for service with the UN observer and monitoring forces in Sierra Leone and the Democractic Republic of the Congo;

    (b)  the Call-out Order made under section 54 Reserve Forces Act 1996 which permits members of the reserve forces to continue to be called out to support operations in the former Yugoslavia and in the region of Iraq;

    (c)  the Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Association Regulations which were laid in the House on 23 March 2000.

  Each subject is discussed in turn below.


The Section 56 Call-out Order

  2.  The Call-out Order made on 11 March 2000 under section 56 Reserve Forces Act 1996 was the first to be made under that section. Its purpose was to allow the call out of members from any of the reserve forces for service with the United Nations monitoring and observer forces in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

  3.  The requirement is primarily for officers, from any Service, who have experience of peacekeeping, monitoring, service as liaison officers, movements officers or public relations work. Additionally, a working knowledge of the French language is desirable for those holding posts in the Democractic Republic of the Congo. No posts are specially set aside for reservists.

  4.  Although the total UK commitment to the UN forces in Sierra Leone and the Democractic Republic of the Congo is not significant, current strengths being 18 and six personnel respectively, it can sometimes be difficult to fill the posts from within the regular forces. This is because people with the necessary skills, experience and training are not always available at the right time. The inclusion of the reserve forces in a trawl can help to ensure that posts are filled in a timely manner and without imposing an additional burden or disruption upon those recently returned from other operational tours.

Call-out Order made on 3 April 2000 under Section 54 Reserve Forces Act 1996

  5.  A Call-out Order was made on 3 April 2000 under section 54 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to permit reservists to be called out to support NATO operations in the former Yugoslavia, the no-fly operations over north and south Iraq and the UN commitment on the Iraq/Kuwait border. This Call-out Order is the fourth made under section 54 of the 1996 Act.

  6.  On 1 April 2000 832 reservists were in permanent service, having been called out to support NATO operations in the former Yugoslavia. (RNR 5, RMR 4, TA 538, Army Reserve 252, RAuxAF 23 and RAF Reserve 10). These figures include reservists who are providing operational support from the UK and other countries as well as those deployed in the former Yugoslavia. It also includes reservists on post-operational leave.

  7.  Reservists are used in the former Yugoslavia to make up shortfalls in regular Service manning, reduce overstretch and to bring units up to their operational establishments. No targets have been set in the Call-out Order as the numbers of reservists required during the year will change according to operational needs, other Service commitments and overall manning levels in the armed forces. Historically the reserve forces have provided some 10% of the total UK force deployed in the former Yugoslavia, although this figure did rise last year to just under 15% primarily because of the additional commitments in Kosovo. Currently, the UK's total contribution to the NATO Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia is just under 3,000 personnel while the contribution to the force in Kosovo, KFOR, is about 3,500.

  8.  By cap-badge, the main requirements for Army reservists in former Yugoslavia are expected to remain proportionately similar to last year, covering a broad spread of trades and skills. Reservists from all three Services will also continue to provide many specialist skills, including, meteorologists, linguists, intelligence staff, public relations officers and movements support.

  9.  The Call-out Order made under section 54 will also enable reservists to continue to be called out in order to support the no-fly zone operations over north and south Iraq and also the UN commitment on the Iraq/Kuwait border. At present some 60 reservists are involved in these operations, the majority coming from the RAuxAF and RAF Reserve. The main trades and branches include Flight Operations staff, RAuxAF Regiment, movements, nursing services, intelligence and administrative staff.


  10.  The Committee has also sought a progress report on the re-organisation of the Territorial, Auxiliary and Reserve Forces Associations (TAVRA) since its First Report of Session 1998-99, together with the reason for deciding to change the title of the TAVRAs and an exposition of the purpose and effect of the Reserve Forces' and Cadet' Associations (RFCA) Regulations laid on 23 March 2000.

The structure of the TAVRAs: MoD/TAVRA Interface Study

  11.  As indicated to the Committee previously[1], a joint MoD/TAVRA Interface Study was undertaken. Its conclusions and recommendations were accepted and endorsed by CinC Land Command and the Chairman of the Council of TAVRAs. As a result, and with the co-operation of the Associations, there will be a reduction in the number of Associations from the present 14 to 13 with effect from 1 September 2000. An order made in accordance with section 110 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 (RFA96) will be made before that date, and copied to the Committee—with explanatory memorandum—when the statutory instrument is laid.

TAVRA funding

  12.  A further recommendation of the joint working group related to the budgetary arrangements necessary to reflect the new structure and relationships. The Associations derive the majority of their income from five Top Level Budgets (TLBs) within MoD. Each Association will be responsible for in-year management of a Basic Level Budget, and be resourced to achieve its agreed annual programme of tri-Service tasks from the range identified and jointly agreed in course of the study.

  13.  Obviously where there are complex series of inter-relationships, clarity of responsibility and accountability at all stages is essential. Strategic mechanisms are also necessary to establish confidence, communications and the necessary partnership on both sides of the MoD/TAVRA interface; to ensure co-ordination and coherence, where there may be commonality or conflicts of interest. Accordingly, at the level of personal responsibilities and accountability, Letters of Delegation are issued to each Association Secretary. At regional level, local Service representatives will be invited to attend Associations' committee meetings. Associations are now represented at meetings of the Management Boards of the regional Army Division and CinC Land Command. And a tri-Service Stakeholders' Board has been established, which will report to the Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Advisory Committee (RFCAC), chaired by the Minister for the Armed Forces on behalf of the Defence Council.

  14.  All these new arrangements—and many others—are embraced by the new Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations Regulations.

The Change of Name

  15.  The Associations published their own review "TAVRA 2000: A Report on the Role of TAVRAs" on 30 May 1997. In this Report, the Associations themselves recommended that they be known as Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations to better reflect their tri-Service and cadet responsibilities. The MoD/TAVRA Interface Study endorsed that recommendation.

Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations Regulations

  16.  As the Committee is aware, the current TAVRA Regulations were published by Defence Council Order dated 29 August 1978. The purpose of the new Regulations is to do more than merely update these. They also incorporate proposals resulting from wide consultation and policy developments in areas such as membership appointment procedures and the responsibilities of key officers and committees, and improved financial and general management arrangements and property and personnel management responsibilities. As a result, the RFCA Regulations now provide an over-arching charter that sets out the framework in which the Associations operate. The effect is to give flesh to the provisions of Part IX of RFA96. The financial regulations incorporated in the Regulations have received the Treasury consent required by section 117(2) of the Act.

  17.  The Regulations set out in full the tasks and responsibilities of the Associations and their members. They publish the Terms of Reference and Membership of the Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Advisory Committee and Stakeholders' Board, through which the Defence Council will maintain overall visibility of the Associations. The Regulations also embody the only published and fully updated versions of the Military Lands Acts that apply to the Associations.

  18.  From the framework provided by the Regulations, other administrative instruments depend, such as Financial Memorandums and the Army Volunteer Estate Works Management Manual (regulations 3.3 and 4.3) and the RFCA Staff Regulations (regulation 5.2). New Schemes of Association, made in accordance with RFA96 section 111 and Schedule 4, have been negotiated with the Associations. These take fully into account the regulations on organisational structure and membership appointments, and will come into effect—under their new names as RFCAs—from 1 April 2000.


  19.  We are satisfied that the issues raised in the Committee's previous inquiry have been explored and resolved in full and wide consultation with the Associations, the Service and MoD and that the outcome that has been accepted on both sides of the MoD/TAVRA interface. The new RFCA Regulations give the Defence Council clear visibility of the structure and mechanisms of the bodies it has estbalished. Named as Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations, the new RFCA Regulations recognise and record their role and their Crown status as autonomous Government non-trading bodies serving all three Services.

1   See the Government's Observations (No 417, published 28 April 1999) and Mr Spellar's answer to the written Parliamentary question from Mr Pound MP on 21 April 1999 (Hansard, Col WA566). Back

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