The British Army is one of the most called upon in the world. It delivers more “bang for buck”, than possibly any other regularly utilised force. Equally though, these expectations have become so entrenched, that any additional request put to the Army, is considered already done once it has left the mouth of the Minister of State for Defence (for it is often left to the junior Minister, rather than the Secretary of State for Defence, to make unpopular decisions regarding manpower). The recent decision to halve the number of days payable for training, to the TA, is the most short sighted decision on the part of the MOD in a very long time.The TA runs on the goodwill of its personnel. We have familes, we have increasingly demanding jobs, we are paid a starting salary of approx £30 a day, to put ourself in harms way. There is no greater civic committment, than to be a member of Her Majesty’s Forces. The TA do this in addition to their full time jobs and lives. The Britsh contribution to the Iraq War, was reliant on roughly 15% of its troops being TA.
The war, quite simply, could not have been conducted without them. They also require immense management time to co-ordinate efforts, training, pre-deployment training – and simply ‘showing up’. I personally know members of both the TA and the Reserves (recently left members of full time Service personnel), who have missed the birth of a child, whilst away on Operations. This is a regular occurrence for our full time Army colleagues, but it is a big “ask” for someone who has volunteered to be there in his or her spare time… To cut by half the days available to be paid (to 11), effectively means one weekend every two months, to fulfill training that will allow our TA colleagues to be prepared to go forward to deployment training, and, at the very least, to provide the “Home Guard” function, vital to protect this country’s national interest. The net result, in a year’s time, could easily be an operational TA of half it’s present size, its members simply having drifted away…back to their own lives. We anticpate the Government’s response at that time.