Back in July I wrote a post saying that the TA should be fully integrated into the Army. Yesterday Philip was saying that the TA should be renamed the Army Reserve and be more closely integrated into the Army.
I was a bit disappointed to hear a slightly condescending tone creep into the Defence Secretary’s language when he spoke about the reserves. I understand that he needs to highlight the changes that he needs to make but considering the TA has been sending large numbers of soldiers, of all ranks, to front-line duties in Iraq and Afghanistan for over a decade one has to ask how many people join to “play at being soldiers”.
The real test of the Government’s commitment in this area will be their willingness or otherwise to make the necessary changes that will be needed. Will the Treasury agree to an employers’ National Insurance rebate for those employing reservists? Will the MOD really be willing to give the reserves the same kit and training as the regulars? Will they be willing to create a porous boundary between the regulars and reserves to make transition between the two parts of the army the norm rather than the exception? And will the Army use it’s central recruiting mechanisms to recruit to the reserves as well as the regulars?
If these things are put in place Philip Hammond may get the Army Reserve that he wants and that the army needs.