Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100
WEDNESDAY 8 NOVEMBER 2000
TAYLOR, CBE, COLONEL
100. That brings me straight on to my question.
Our eagle-eyed Clerk has winkled out problems in the figures for
unit level man training days, so we will not get lost in the statistical
side of it, but if I put the general question to you, you have
made the point about lack of structure from the point of view
of providing officer careers within infantry battalions and to
a lesser extent I think the same problem in the yeomanry. The
other side of that issue is, do you think there is a problem with
being able to provide interesting training even for those who
have got jobs? Can a company commander really train as a company
commander if there is no battalion headquarters for him to answer
(Colonel Robinson) To a degree, yes, but if you remember
the previous structure, the companies tended to operate independently
and the company commander tended to do his own thing. The problem
is, we have now drawn down those companies to much smaller operations
and it is the wherewithal for that company to operate independently
that is missing because he has not got the cooks and bottle washers
that he had to be able to be an independent company. He has not
been set up to do that. All you have really got is a sort of mini
cadre if you like which will never get that company out as an
operational unit. It is only really training individual reservists.
That is my concern. When the Chairman asks if we can mobilise
as formed units, they have not been put on the ground as such
and training of course is just as difficult because of that.
101. Or even as sub-units. You are saying that
the problem is really at company level as well as battalion level.
It is a sad reflectionI should not have to say this, Chairman,
but as a Committee we met in Bosnia a number of people who had
quite a number of TA officers and soldiers come out and they were
all extremely positive. Contact with an infantry unit that had
come back from Kosovo was much less positive about the infanteers
that it had sent to it. The difference is already noticeable within
a couple of years with the new structure.
(Colonel Robinson) One of the things we had the great
benefit of before was the integrated cap badge which we have slightly
lost now. It worked extremely well before because the commanding
officers and regimental sergeant majors at that level were working
across each other. Now that has all disappeared because of the
regimental cap badge moving.
Mr Brazier: I have I think the only unit
left in the country that still has the cap badge and we can even
wear the cap badge link. They are really finding these problems
of lack of battalion and company structure. Thank you for your
102. On recruitment, how is recruitment to the
reserve forces going?
(Colonel Taylor) In general terms over the last 12
months for which statistics are available there has been an increase
in the inflow and a decrease in the outflow in general terms.
That disguises some specific problems which we should not lose
sight of. There are two specific areas that we need to flag up
and I think you are aware of them. There is a particular problem
around officer recruitment. It is worth saying however that that
is not a new problem. Most of us have been involved with the TA
for years and have dealt with it on and off over those years but
it is hitting us again at the moment. It is a particular problem.
There is a whole issue around medical recruiting which remains
a major pain but if you take the overall figures and look at the
overall pattern, essentially it is holding up very well.
103. What sort of targeting is there specifically
for those two problem areas?
(Colonel Taylor) For the medical one you have probably
already heard that there is an awful lot going on in terms of
liaison at the top level. We have been pushing quite hard and
we were very pleased that to some degree our pushing worked (we
think). We are taking some credit for it anyhow, in getting, for
example, Dr. Lewis Moonie talking to Lord Hunt so that there was
a ministerial contact at the top level between the two departments
to make sure these issues are being properly addressed. There
is a whole range of other things you have heard from Richard Holmes
and others about all the various things that are going on. The
thing that is at the root of the medical recruiting problem of
course is the point that Richard Holmes mentioned earlier, which
is that as a result of SDR the TA was given vastly enhanced establishments
to fill which were a significant increase over what had been in
place before, so there was a requirement actually to do quite
a lot of very dramatic recruiting in order to fill that new enhanced
establishment coupled with the fact that we are fishing in the
same pond as the NHS, having the same difficulties as the NHS.
It is not just the TA, it is the whole AMS, the whole DMS, everybody
is having the same difficulty, of finding sufficient medics to
fulfil all those roles. But there has been an experiment going
on in the West Midlands to try and find other ways, more radical
ways, of liaising with the local NHS people to try and enhance
the numbers who are coming in. There are other activities going
on. I picked up a reference earlier on to the new TA Brigadier.
His name is Ian Robertson. He has recently taken over. Ian is
a classic example of somebody who is radically changing the way
people can help solve these problems rather than by conventional
means. The difficulty we have all been struggling with is trying
to solve an unconventional problem with conventional means. You
have got to find other ways of doing it. Straightforward recruiting
of medics will not necessarily meet those establishment figures.
There have been a whole lot of interesting and new ways of doing
it, and the new TA Brigadier for the medics is actually the ideal
person to be doing just that.
104. What about the officer recruiting? Surely
there are a lot of would-be captains of industry who would be
ideal for that?
(Colonel Taylor) Absolutely.
(Colonel Robinson) Our worry about the officer bit
is the time it takes to get through. It can be two and a half
years from flash to bang to get them trained and commissioned.
There is quite a strong feeling now that we should be re-looking
at the fast track system that we tried a few years ago. I believe
that has now been taken up and is being run, not that it is really
anything to do with us, but we are well aware that it is taking
far too long to get a young officer through and we think it is
putting off the applicants.
(Colonel Taylor) I think it is worth saying, if we
can be less khaki-specific for a moment, that we should talk to
the Commodore about RNR.
(Commodore Pemberton) Just before I get to that I
will follow up as far as the Army junior officer recruiting is
concerned. The sort of constituency you are after, if I can use
that word here, is one that is used to the internet, to instant
button-pressing results. Frankly, if you put them into a two-year
plan and they get absolutely nowhere and they are left in certain
stages for long periods, you will lose them. It has to be re-focused
to address that sort of person. As far as the naval recruiting
is concerned, you will recollectit is a number of years
ago nowthat there was a major cutback and they allowed
the numbers borne to crash way below the new establishment without
continuing to recruit. Over the years they have gradually been
pulling back and they are now well in excess of 3,000 borne. They
are roughly on target for recruiting this year. The new establishment
post SDR was about 3,850 in round terms, of which 3,300 should
be trained strength. It is anticipated that we will hit that in,
I think I am right in saying, 2005, but it is a gradual increase
allowing for loss of people on the way. The slight fall against
the target they had for this year is due to it taking slightly
longer to set up satellite units which was to be the main driving
force in getting recruits in this year, putting recruits within,
say, 40 miles of the main trading establishments but within good
105. Would you say that again?
(Commodore Pemberton) Satellite units.
106. What does that mean?
(Commodore Pemberton) It is a mini unit which will
be staffed by people already in the RNR who live within that area,
so you take an area, Dundee for instance, where there used to
be a very flourishing RNR unit, I have to say. They have set up
a satellite unit to recruit for the recent RNR for the unit, which
is now in Rosyth. They do their basic training at the Satellite
unit and certain other forms of training, and then for the major
part of their training they will travel or be brought in in minibuses
to the nearest unit in Rosyth.
107. Will they have their own satellite building?
(Commodore Pemberton) They are being housed in TA
centres in the main.
(Commodore Pemberton) There is no money for that,
(Colonel Robinson) Arrangements are being made to
bring them in. It is on a low cost budget arrangement but it is
proving extremely successful. On medical recruits, incidentally,
they set up a satellite unit in Oxford to recruit student nurses
directly for the nearest unit based at Northwood, HMS Wildfire,
and this is proving extremely successful. In this case they are
co-located with the University Royal Navy Unit.
108. The TA held a recruitment drive at Chelsea
Barracks on 29 October.
What was the result of that? Did it attract any recruits?
(Colonel Taylor) It did.
109. It was not on the TA web site. Was that
(Colonel Taylor) Can I answer your first question?
It was successful but not as successful as the previous year.
The reason we think it was not as successful as the previous yearthe
numbers were approximately halfwas that because, if you
have been down that neck of the woods recently you will notice
that as a consequence of SDR the Duke of York's is now a building
site and you cannot access it from the normal entry point which
is King's Road and you have to find your way around the back streets
to find your way in. That seems to have had an impact on it. None
the less it was a good result, just not as good as the previous
110. How many people signed up?
(Colonel Taylor) I am not sure I can give you that
figure; it is too early because it was only about two weeks ago.
There were about 570 real enquiries, which is not bad. I have
got the figures somewhere. I just have not got them here.
(Colonel Taylor) They exist, certainly, because I
have seen them. To get back to your point on the TA web site,
there are of course innumerable web sites of various kinds, and
indeed the Greater London Association has its own web site and
it was on that. There have been exercises to make sure it is publicised
112. Is there anything more you would like to
say about your recruitment strategy for attracting more potential
officers? You have touched on this in answer to Mr Cohen earlier
(Colonel Taylor) The main point is that we should
not let it be thought that the TA has ceased to be an interesting
opportunity for young people to join because it does remain still
something of that order, and the whole recruiting campaign was
to focus on that and continue to do that. The point that Colonel
Robinson has raised is probably the most significant. We have
to persuade the chain of command to introduce again a more timely
process for getting these youngsters in to commissioning because
it is too long and it is too slow.
(Colonel Robinson) I would only add that the career
path for a TA officer beyond his first job, say, of platoon commander
or troop commander, needs to be identified just to keep him there.
Otherwise he is never ever going to aspire to be a company commander.
It is my worry, and I am sure that Julian Brazier is on to this
as well, is that we are not going to have company commanders in
the future unless they have been plucked out of the regular Army
because they are just not going to be home grown.
(Commodore Pemberton) I would say that one other area
which does need addressing is keeping our tentacles on graduates
from the OTCs. I am looking at the OTCs in my part of the world
and we really do not keep enough of them, albeit they may move
anywhere in the country, but not enough of them come back into
(Colonel Taylor) There is an ancillary point and that
is that not enough of the OTCs in some of our opinions are commanded
by Territorials and therefore the purpose of quite a lot of OTC
activity remains very much outward focusing, which is perfectly
acceptable, of course, and perfectly right, but it does need that
TA input at the top to redirect the youngsters to think in those
113. Do you think recruitment would be more
attractive through a reinstatement of the direct entry route?
(Colonel Taylor) That is the fast track that Colonel
Robinson has already referred to because that is not a phrase
we would use in the TA. I think that is fast track. I think we
have already answered and the answer remains a very positive yes.
114. Is the decline in the number of commanding
officer posts held by Territorials a result of MoD policy or just
a lack of suitable people coming forward?
(Colonel Taylor) I explored this one very recently.
I want to put on record that there has been no change of policy.
I can confirm that because I have checked it this very morning.
There is no change of policy in the system. It is still the policy
that the most suitable candidate should be considered for command
and any Territorial with the appropriate qualifications will be
considered. What has happened, and I will turn to Colonel Robinson
in a moment because I know he wants to say something, is happenstance.
As a consequence of the amalgamations, particularly in the infantry,
post SDR, there has been an obvious reduction in the number of
appointments and therefore to some degree there has been a reduction
in the number of Territorial appointments. One or two other arms
have shown happenstance at work in the sense that, if I can be
parochial as a gunner, at this particular moment in time, today,
there is not a single gunner regiment with a TA CO. Only three
months ago there were four TA COs. It is simply the cycle working
its way through the system and I do not think at the moment we
should be reading any more into it than that. I do have an assurance
that there has been absolutely no change of policy and that is
going to be declared again shortly to establish that point.
(Colonel Robinson) It is extremely difficult for a
TA officer to take on the role of course and that should be remembered.
In the Bible you are told that you cannot work for two masters,
and if you have got a proper civilian job, unless you actually
run it yourself it is quite difficult to get someone to agree
that you can take all this time off to run a TA organisation.
I speak as one who did actually become a TA CO. I was the only
one who ever commanded my battalion as a TA officer in the 25
years in which it existed, mainly for that reason. There were
suitable people who were recommended and had their CO with all
the right ticks in the boxes but when they were asked if they
could do it they said, "No, I honestly cannot give it the
time". That is an important factor. The other thing, as Colonel
Taylor has just said, is that the pool is smaller and we are going
to experience the problem getting worse simply because there are
not the officers in the organisation that there were.
(Commodore Pemberton) I would go along with that last
one. In fact, in my area, most of the major units still have got
TA Commanding Officers but not the infantry and that is the key.
With the enormous area that we cover, going over seven counties,
it is going to be a very exceptional man who is going to be able
to do that and hold down a job outside. The other thing is that
the career he will have had up to the stage where he might be
considered will not be as complete and produce the sort of individual
that previously we would look for to command the battalion.
115. Before coming on to Cadets, can I make
two quick observations on what we have just heard? The first is
that there is good evidence fed to me from sources I respectyou
have mentioned the new divisional arrangements and there are also
the brigade arrangements too so we have TA officers at all levelsthere
are a number of officers within the system in parts of the Army
who are actively trying to block TA COs being appointed. It is
a very odd thing in statistics that for all these years the Sappers
and Signals have always managed to run half TA COs, yet here we
have a situation where 22 infantry and other regiments put together
have one TA CO. The other quick observation, just to pick up the
point you made about OTCs, in Australia, which has been, until
recently, even more strapped for money than us, all but four of
the TA CO appointments, including all the university regiments,
are always held by reserves except in the direst of periods. They
have much better levels of officer and soldier retention than
we do here. I just put that on the record. I would like to ask
about Cadets. I have just been privileged to visit my own local
Army Cadet Forceand at other times I have visited my Naval
and Air Force ones, all three in excellent shapedo we have
figures for the proportion of cadets going on to join the regulars
or reserves, or perhaps the other way round, the proportion of
reservists and regulars who join who have a background in the
(Colonel Taylor) Those figures do exist. I cannot
quote them at the moment but they are available and they can be
116. Can we have a letter?
(Colonel Taylor) Absolutely, no problem.
117. Because they do play an important role.
(Colonel Taylor) Yes, it is well-known.
(Commodore Pemberton) Wearing the dark blue hat, 20
per cent of those going through HMS Raleigh, which is the basic
training for ratings in the Navy, have been through Cadet service
in some form or other. We do pinch a few from the other Cadet
forces, I understand.
118. Do you manage to attract many young women
and young people from ethnic backgrounds into the Cadets? Have
you lookedwell, we all know the answer to that is yeshave
you considered from your angle what the barriers may be to such
cadets, female cadets and cadets from ethnic minorities, going
on to join the regular forces?
(Colonel Taylor) We will try to unpack all those questions,
if you will forgive me. The first point is that there is considerable
evidenceI have not got the figures with me but they do
existthat young girls are joining the Cadet forces in considerable
numbers. Indeed at one point there was, if the ladies will forgive
my comment, slight concern it was getting out of balance, that
there were rather more joining than was expected and that was
causing some concern. But those figures are available and can
be provided. I think the ethnic minority issue is a much more
complex one and it is not just for the Cadets, it is an issue
for the reserve forces generally. Two points, if I may. Last year,
actually 3.4 per cent of our recruits into the TA were from the
ethnic minorities, which is higher than the target figure we were
asked to meet.
119. Of people joining the TA?
(Colonel Taylor) I am talking TA, not Cadets at the
moment. The point is that with the reduction in some of the TA
presence in the great conurbations, clearly that is going to have
a huge impact on the recruiting of people from the local community,
and that of course meansfor example, in Patrick's patch,
Birminghamwhen you remove TA centres from those centres,
you will have an impact. The Cadets remain in place and if you
go around the country you will find there are significant numbers
of the ethnic communities joining the Cadets. Those figures I
am not sure we can readily provide but we will try. We can certainly
do it for the TA but I am not so sure about the Cadets.
Mr Brazier: Thank you very much.
3 It was held at the Duke of Yorks Headquarters, see
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