UK defence issues and the odd container or two

Future Reserves 2020 – Planned v Current Manning

Before anyone gets over excited about the numbers it is important to remember that the planned column is for 2020, or more accurately April 2019.

The table was in response to an FOI request on regimental manning, instead of a regimental breakdown, the MoD provided it on Arm/Service. It shows the total trained Group A Army Reserve manning as at April 1st 2014 and includes Volunteer Reserves, Mobilised Reserves, High Readiness Reserves, Officer Training Corps support and training staff and Officers under training.

Numbers are rounded which means some of the percentages don’t appear to be correct but the figures in the table are exactly as provided by Defence Statistics. The only change I have made is correcting a spelling mistake in the Arm/Service column.

The exact wording on rounding from the release is

Please note the total strengths have been rounded to 10, numbers ending in “5” have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias. Totals and sub totals have been rounded separately and so may not appear to be the sum of their parts

Statisticians eh!

I have sorted them on the percentage column, seems like we have plenty of Staff Officers and lawyers but a bit short of vets and PTI’s

Arm/Service Current Strength FR20 Requirement Strength as a % of Requirement
Staff Officers (Officers in the rank of full Colonel or above)                             110                                   68 156%
Adjutant General’s Corps (Army Legal Service)                               10                                   12 108%
Household Cavalry/Royal Armoured Corps                             980                             1,204 82%
Infantry                         4,750                             5,993 79%
Adjutant General’s Corps (Staff Personnel Support)                             500                                 685 74%
Royal Engineers                         1,910                             2,637 72%
Royal Signals                         1,460                             2,056 71%
Small Arms School Corps                               10                                   14 71%
Royal Army Chaplains Department                               50                                   75 68%
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers                         1,370                             2,127 64%
Royal Artillery                         1,410                             2,286 62%
Adjutant General’s Corps (Provost)                             320                                 544 59%
Royal Logistics Corps                         3,460                             5,858 59%
Royal Army Medical Corps                         1,450                             2,596 56%
Queen Alexandria’s Royal Army Nursing Corps                             600                             1,122 53%
Intelligence Corps                             600                             1,403 43%
Royal Army Dental Corps                               30                                 108 28%
Army Air Corps                             120                                 572 21%
Adjutant General’s Corps (Education Training Service)                               40                                 233 18%
Royal Army Physical Training Corps                               10                                   66 12%
Royal Army Veterinary Corps                               10                                 342 3%
Adjutant General’s Corps (Unspecified)                               40                                    - 0%
Corps of Army Music                               50                                    - 0%
Other                             100                                    - 0%

 

The totals presented were, the Army Reserve is currently at 65% of the FR20 requirement

 

 

 

About The Author

Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!

44 Comments

  1. RCT(V)

    If the last column represents “PRESENT Strength as a % of FUTURE Requirement”, it does (of course!) make sense. Except for the second item: Army Legal Service ! No amount of rounding-up/down, can result in a CURRENT strength of 10, being 108% of FUTURE FR20 Requirement of 12. (I think !).

  2. Hohum

    So basically the Army legal service currently have 13 staff but the rounding system shows them as having 10 though they only need 12 so the percentage column shows the correct 108% whereas the rounded current force number suggests it should be 83%.

    In the time I typed that they could have just fired one of those guys and made it 100%.

  3. Dangerous Dave

    Umm, why have they rounded the *current* strength on this table, but not the *future* strength? Doesn’t that make a nonsense of the percentage at the end, or was that derived from the precise figures?

  4. Randomer

    There has to be some mistake about the number of vets? Even if it includes assistants, dog handlers etc it seems very high. For that matter I didn’t think we had reservist dog handlers as a position anyway unless trained for a particular operational deployment?

    I didn’t think the armed forces as a whole has a requirement for that many let alone just the AR. Unless we are planning some kind of sponsored reserve system that nobody has heard about?

  5. monkey

    @Randomer
    No its correct , the new FRES is now named HORSE and MULE ☺
    Red trousers to issued as standard.

  6. monkey

    In truth none of the figures make sense to me , why 50% more Royal Army Chaplains Department?
    Is the Army going to needs prayers to survive.

  7. Phil

    Army Medical Services are in the shit. Expecting the Colonel in Chief on my doorstep begging me back any day now.

  8. Joe Eastwood

    If indeed the figures are meant to show”TRAINED” Group A Army reservists, then it follows that recruits needed to meet the target for 2019 have to be recruited and in the training cycle by April 2017,it being a 2 year training period. April 2017 is a mere 32 months away, there is not a cat in hells chance of them making the numbers, or even making half the numbers.

  9. Not a Boffin

    Phil is correct. The really important numbers in there are the Medics, The Int, AAC and the Loggies. REME, gunners and the sappers may become an issue if the numbers stay that way.

  10. Phil

    Fear not. If I rejoined I’d count as ten men.

    Medics take 3 years or so to fully train. Docs not long at all.

  11. Allan

    @Phil, Is the issue with medics & nurses more the fact that to ‘man up’ to capability, HMG would have to trawl through the experienced skilled practitioners in A&E and surgical disciplines in the NHS – thus causing more issues at ‘home’?

    @Hohum….could we afford Falcons? Might Ptarmigans be a cheaper option (especially in cold wet climates).

  12. Gewyne

    I wonder why they do not increase the age for reservist to cover help cover shortages – as long as the personnel are fit then does it matter how old those performing non combat roles are ?

  13. Joe Eastwood

    Gewyne, Yes! That is the way to have a world class defence force, cut your trained regular force to the bone, pay them redundancy,then employ a dodgy civilian firm to replace them with Reservists( spending another fortune along the way compensating employers and bribing the sacked men who you once had already with more cash to join the reserves,then finally, the trump card, when it looks like it is all going to fail, lower the entry standards.
    What a disgraceful farce.

  14. Phil

    @Allan

    Not really, a lot of NHS trusts really support their staff either because they’re good people or they understand the personal development they can get out of it. Especially at senior levels they have been getting clinical exposure to trauma they’d never see or see very little of in the NHS and it helps.

    It also depends on what they mean by “trained”. You’re a trained soldier after recruits but you’re not deployable. With Combat Med Techs you might be considered trade trained as a Class 3 but again you’re not deployable. You’re not even really deployable as a Class 2. So where are they drawing the line with trained? They might have large numbers of CMT Class 2s who are a 7x week PDT course away from being able to deploy or a 2 week volunteer course away from being counted as trained. Or they might be up real shit creek and they’re including everybody with basic training.

    I suspect that a lot are like me. Joined when they stood a very real (almost inevitable) chance of multiple deployments into an environment where they could do their jobs. That has finished now and I wonder if lots have left – which is worrying as its likely to be some of the best.

    @ Geweynne

    TA age limits were always quite flexible when I was in depending on what you could do. Recruits in their early 40s were not out of place. I did my recruits course with a Welsh Guardsman who had been on the Galahad and had left the Army 20 years before and come back for a bit of TA love.

  15. Gewyne

    If there are 50+ year old eletrical engineers, medics, mechanics, logistic managers etc willing to join the reserves I have no issue with it – it’s not as if your arming them and asking them to walk in X direction to advance to contact and engage the enemy.

    The issue about redundancies, cutting etc – well it’s been done, the money spent, crying about it will change nothing – surely the thing now is ensuring that the services have people for the future so we do not have shortages or have to beg the US coastguard for personnel.

  16. Mike W

    “Gewyne, Yes! That is the way to have a world class defence force, cut your trained regular force to the bone . . .etc. etc.” Agree absolutely with everything you say, Joe Eastwood.

    There is probably some very simple reason why I am wrong about this but I am going to submit it anyway.

    On the subject of manning, I have read recently that the German Bundeswehr has in the region of 15,000 troops that do voluntary national service. Mind you, that is the Bundeswehr and not just the Heer (Army).

    Now, I can see no obvious reasons why a similar scheme could not be introduced in the UK. As they would all be volunteers, the emotive arguments that are usually trotted out concerning compulsion would not apply. Such a force would presumably be comparatively cheap, not being paid at the rates of our regulars and would experience the advantages of accommodation, subsidized food, etc. etc. Although unemployment is dropping relatively fast, there must surely be thousands of young men and women today who would volunteer for such service. They would enjoy the opportunities for adventure and travel and a certain element among them might look forward to the excitement of action. (Sounds a bit like a recruiting poster but you know what I am getting at).

    A force of 15,000 volunteer national service personnel would be trained in the same way as regular troops and would surely offer a better return than the present plan for recruiting more Reserves. They would help bring the Regular Army up to the level it should be (nearer one hundred thousand).

  17. Phil

    If there are 50+ year old eletrical engineers, medics, mechanics, logistic managers etc willing to join the reserves I have no issue with it – it’s not as if your arming them and asking them to walk in X direction to advance to contact and engage the enemy.

    A medic being armed and having to advance to contact? Imagine that! What a crazy world! Would never happen.

    50+ might work for skilled folk behind the wire or who are UK based enablers but it’s going too far for anyone else.

  18. DavidNiven

    @Mike W

    ‘Such a force would presumably be comparatively cheap, not being paid at the rates of our regulars and would experience the advantages of accommodation, subsidized food, etc. etc.’

    So they are joining voluntarily for ‘x’ amount of years for what sounds like basically the regular army but with less pay? I’m sure the volunteers will be flooding the services.

    The armed forces had to offer YTS schemes back in the day, join the armed forces for £10 a week while the blokes stood next to you had signed on properly. I don’t think it got many takers.

  19. Mike W

    DavidNiven,

    Thanks for the reply. I half suspected there would be a difficulty with the plan. I would like to know, though, why they employ the scheme in Germany and how it works in terms of pay. Why do they distinguish between regular personnel and National service ones? Maybe it is just a matter of length of contract? I’m sure, however, there must be some advantage to them in having a voluntary national service element. Does anyone know?

  20. Brian Black

    I don’t think the idea of taking on 50+ reservists would work out for the British Army. Over the last couple of decades, pretty much anything that was considered a non-deployable post has been civilianized. Anyone remaining in the Army in 2020 has got to be capable of proper soldiering, there won’t be much room for doddering old men pottering about.

    Mike, German conscription was for a six month term when it ended in 2011. Eligible Germans could still volunteer to serve the short six month term after 2011.

    If they’re still doing that, then all it does is create a private soldier, who I assume could be called up under some reservist terms of service. And because they only serve for six months, that 15,000 figure does not equate to 15,000 trained soldiers; the first three months of basic training in the British Army will essentially produce an armed camper who knows how to iron, not someone who is battle-ready. And German conscripts would not deploy on active service unless they volunteered for an extension of service.

    Something like that could work for the British reserves, if reservists were allowed to get all their basic training out of the way in one block, then rejoin civilian life and continue service and training with their reserve unit. Many people do have breaks in employment; it could be a good way to get trained reservist numbers up quickly.

  21. Kent

    I was in the United States Army Retired Reserve until I reached age 55 and subject to recall as an Armor Officer with an Alternate Speciality of Operations, Plans, and Training. (12B54 in the old days) Needless to say, after 9/11 the Army didn’t need any beat up old dudes (even though I volunteered). Now that I’m a beat up, 62 year old cancer survivor, they really don’t need me.

    Too bad. Tanks were fun!

  22. Mike W

    Brian Black

    Many thanks for the detailed reply, Brian. What you say all makes sense and I rather like the idea of how something like that could work for the British reserves “if reservists were allowed to get all their basic training out of the way in one block, then rejoin civilian life and continue service and training with their reserve unit.”

    Could be, as you say, an effective way of getting reserve numbers up quickly.

    I don’t know whether you were one of those contributors who was for or against the huge reductions to the Regular Army to 82,000 but it does seem to me that something drastic has to be done to mitigate what could be the catastrophic effect of that. We are already seeing the folly of creating yawning gaps in our forces’ capabilities, especially with the number of world crises existing at the moment, and the plan to create more trained Reserves appears to be seriously faltering at the moment.

  23. a

    Something like that could work for the British reserves, if reservists were allowed to get all their basic training out of the way in one block, then rejoin civilian life and continue service and training with their reserve unit.

    I may have mentioned before that this is how the US National Guard works. You join up and you do your phase 1 and phase 2 training alongside the regulars, in the same places, over the same schedule; effectively you are a full-time regular soldier for anything from five months to a year, depending how long it takes you to get trained in your chosen speciality. Then you get returned to the civilian world and told to come back for one weekend a month and one exercise a year.

  24. DavidNiven

    For the reserves to work in the way the armed forces and government are hoping will require a sea change in attitudes from the UK populous, employers and military. It will only take about 20 years, or less than 5 years if a massive war for survival kicks off.

    I think the local Reserve unit near me is experimenting with having recruits doing their entire training up to initial trade level in one go. The trouble is it requires about 8 weeks of someones time in one go, which would be a struggle for someone in employment.

  25. monkey

    Let’s hope UK gov does not follow the Swiss pattern of compulsory service , especially if Osbourne finds out about this bit :-
    ‘People determined unfit for service, where fitness is defined as “satisfying physically, intellectually and mentally requirements for military service or civil protection service and being capable of accomplishing these services without harming oneself or others”,are exempted from service but pay an additional 3% of annual income tax until the age of 30, unless they are affected by a disability.’
    He would have everyone fail to get a stealth tax in ☺

  26. Rick

    Regarding the Bundeswehr (BW), there are 2 kinds of soldier now that conscription (Wehrpflicht) has gone. Like all things BW (and I work as the sole civilian in a small Luftwaffe unit) the alternatives and regulations are complex but in a nutshell:

    Berufssoldat (regular soldier) generally works until the age of 55 and then gets a good pension (compared to my British Army service pension).

    Zeitsoldat (time-serving soldier?) contracts to work for a certain length of time which can be as long as 20 years (25 as a medic). The pay is the same as for Berufssoldaten. At the end of the time a sum is paid into the normal German pension fund (like our NI contributions) so there is no penalty when retiring. The reason it is attractive is that there are many opportunities to get money and time for courses. Depending on length of service this includes up to 2 years income whilst attending fulltime college/university. 12 years is a common contract as this is the least time to qualify for the 2 years.

    On a separate note retired soldiers can be employed for 3 months per year to assist units if the budget is there. We employ 3 of our retired technicians every summer to alleviate summer leave problems. They enjoy it and so do we.

  27. Allan

    @Brian Black – I’ve got German friends and from memory I think some of them opted ‘to go into the Army’ because as a ‘reservist’ you can often ‘talk round’ employers / education establishments to get you on to all sort of courses because you are the ‘right sort’ and helping out so to speak.

    I can’t speak about the ‘regular German Army’ as none of my friends wanted to be regular soldiers – they made the trade off of being soldiers for limited periods of time as required by the German govt. for better prospects elsewhere. I’ve no idea if the practice is common or not to be honest.

  28. Phil

    I think the best model is the Danish one. A professional core, buttressed with conscripts serving 4 months in a total defence role for homeland resilience and a reserve force recruited from those conscripts given 8 months full time training and then going onto a reserve list. You have professional volunteers, a pool of manpower for resilience tasks and a wider more representative pool of personnel to recruit into the reserves and professional core from the conscripts. Happy days.

  29. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Thread – Basic Training as a gap year activity? Followed by the opportunity to participate in a useful project overseas, and a Government contribution to University Fees…paid for by a five or seven year commitment to the Army Reserve.

    Might suit some youngsters better than getting pissed-up and poxed on a beach in Bali…especially those whose Dad can’t afford to pick up the bill for a five or six month world-wide pub crawl.

    GNB

  30. Observer

    …back to school for me..

    20 years after basic specialist training, and they want me to go for a refresher course in January. Oh well, at least 1) it’s for the whole lot of us so I’m going to be in good company and 2) with so much new toys and gadgets out, it’s probably high time for us to touch bases with the new toys the rest of the rank and file are using.

    Australia bound in 2016(?) again. Don’t mind Aussieland, but been there a few times already. Pity it isn’t to India or Arizona. Haven’t been to the other 2 places before. And before someone freaks out about opsec, exercises in these areas are pretty much open source. On youtube no less.

  31. wf

    @Phil: yes, that sounds good to me too.

    @GNB: those world wide pub crawls aren’t always so taxing. Yangjing beer in Beijing was considerably cheaper than bottled water back in the late nineties, and was a perfectly reasonable lager. Great Wall wine was equally cheap, but entirely unrinkable, and the less said about the paint thinner that was Chingis Khan vodka in Mongolia the better…

  32. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @wf – Topically, the best and worst vodka I ever had was in Donetsk, where I was on a trip back in the 1980s…a sporting visit, with a small civic delegation attached, a party of 52 in all. The good stuff was at a formal banquet where each British visitor was paired with a local of the opposite sex and about the same age…so 104 in all. We drank Crimean Champagne and 5* Ukrainian Vodka…12 cases of each…I know, because I counted the empty cases as they piled up next to an open door into the service corridor… :-)

    I woke the following morning praying for death, only to be told that we were attending the First Day of Term Ceremony at a local Primary School, kicking off with a musical welcome from what seemed like several thousand piping treble voices, all singing full belt, at 7.45 in the morning…the really bad vodka was the one that Ivan the Caretaker slipped me when he observed and accurately diagnosed my sorry condition and gave me something infused with paprika and bootlegged in the boiler-room. It felt like a large glass of napalm, with an after-glow of saltpetre… :-(

    Never appreciated a drink so much in my life. :-)

    GNB

  33. DavidNiven

    Phil,

    With the Danish model are you advocating conscription or just the system whereby you do your training and then go back to the civilian world?

  34. Deja Vu

    @GNB and others

    Seems like a consensus on adopting a longer concentrated basic training for the reserve, which I endorse.

    If targeted at gap year / and year 12 school leavers with slick admin and leaving matters like choice of unit until recruit was being trained, I reckon we would build up the numbers with a better trained reserve.

    TD I like the little sums, anti-spam I know, but they also help to reduce the likelihood of posting when drunk.

  35. The Other Chris

    The Danish system in practice is very volunteer based. There’s no pressure to serve at all, quite the opposite in fact. It’s not for everyone. The conscription element is there for emergencies. There’s not enough training positions for everyone eligible to serve.

    I think @MikeKiloPapa has been through the system more recently and can probably shed more up to date information.

  36. Phil

    The conscription element is what is attractive. You get a more representative cross section of society, expose more people to the military and attract people into your reserves and professional core you’d otherwise not get. Whether that is actual conscription or pot luck semi conscription doesn’t matter so much.

    The full time training aspect isn’t so important. As I’ve argued many times basic training is just that. It’s experience which counts. Hence why the Army used to have first year men and didn’t normally post you to the overseas battalion for two years.

  37. Observer

    A side effect of mass conscription is that it absorbs immigrants much faster into your culture. If you left them alone, people tend to congregate into their ethnic comfort zones, but toss them into the “military culture” where they are forced to interact with everyone in a level field social context leaves them much more willing to move around outside of their comfort zones once they get out of service and makes them less likely to ghettoize. Something to think about.

  38. Mike W

    I think I first floated this idea of voluntary conscription (at least in this thread,) See:

    “On the subject of manning, I have read recently that the German Bundeswehr has in the region of 15,000 troops that do voluntary national service. Mind you, that is the Bundeswehr and not just the Heer . . . . Now, I can see no obvious reasons why a similar scheme could not be introduced in the UK. As they would all be volunteers, the emotive arguments that are usually trotted out concerning compulsion would not apply.” etc. etc.

    I just wanted to pursue it a little further. I took David Niven’s point about how recruits who are faced with the prospect of join voluntarily for a certain number of years what sounds like basically the regular army but with less pay, are not going to be terribly impressed. However, I was still intrigued by why they employ the scheme in Germany and how it works in terms of pay. Moreover I wanted to know why they (the Germans) distinguish between regular personnel and National service ones.

    I was encouraged by Brian Black’s comment about how “something like that could work for the British reserves, if reservists were allowed to get all their basic training out of the way in one block, then rejoin civilian life and continue service and training with their reserve unit.”

    and also by a’s comments about how the US National Guard works:

    “You join up and you do your phase 1 and phase 2 training alongside the regulars, in the same places, over the same schedule; effectively you are a full-time regular soldier for anything from five months to a year, depending how long it takes you to get trained in your chosen speciality. Then you get returned to the civilian world and told to come back for one weekend a month and one exercise a year.”

    However, it was Phil’s comment about the Danish system that really set me thinking:

    “I think the best model is the Danish one. A professional core, buttressed with conscripts serving 4 months in a total defence role for homeland resilience and a reserve force recruited from those conscripts given 8 months full time training and then going onto a reserve list. You have professional volunteers, a pool of manpower for resilience tasks and a wider more representative pool of personnel to recruit into the reserves and professional core from the conscripts.”

    That seems like a pretty sound scheme to me and I can see no reason why it, or something similar, should not work for the UK. However, I do feel that the conscription should be voluntary conscription and not compulsory, as the British have a very emotive response to anything that remotely smacks of compulsion.

    However, our Government would probably put the kybosh on it, claiming that the initial cost of setting up the scheme (bureaucracy etc.) would be too expensive, or something like that! Never mind the long-term savings and the creation of a larger Army once again.

  39. The Other Chris

    Should reserves stop at individuals?

    If you have a need for engineers, why stop with one or two people spending a few months training, why not engage their company for a relevant temporary “Reserves” contract?

    It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy. The British, who can afford aluminum better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building…

    - (Allegedly) Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring

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