An Alternative TA Model


A guest post from Phil…

This explores a possible model for the TA of the future.

It is based on the SDSR Army model of 2 light intervention groupings and 5 enduring operations groupings. Since this model is the current official one I think it would be more interesting to discuss how well this reservist model could complement the SDSR model rather than drift off into our own alternative SDSR models.

I am not into fantasy forces so this has been deliberately grounded in some sort of reality. Some of it is somewhat vague but that is because I have no idea of the ratio’s needed to achieve certain effects or how many people it would take to do it.

The organic Brigade reinforcement model (enduring operations) is simply a template, the Brigade commander could chose to organise this force as he sees fit depending on the mission, but these would be the building blocks.

The Brigade Groups would have their reservist units entirely integrated with them and be both OPCON and ADCON for them.

Apart from the higher commitment for Officers / SNCOs and in the final 18 months of the readiness cycle I have left the ToS as is for reasons of not stepping on cross policy toes.


  • Able to generate infantry battalion as part of force generation cycle
  • Able to generate other CS manning increments as part of force generation cycle
  • Able to generate CSS formed units and increments as part of force generation cycle
  • Able to generate a third Theatre Support Group
  • Able to generate a third divisional level Support Group
  • Able to generate a Force Support Hospital on an enduring basis and provide surge capability of a 100 bed Field Hospital
  • Able to generate specialist units as needed
  • Able to support and maintain specialist pools of trades
  • Able to provide UK wide resilient communication network
  • Provide the framework for utilising regular reservist volunteers


  • Lack of training time
  • Unbalanced commitment
  • Poor ratio of effectives to ration strength
  • Perceived risk in SNCO and Officer abilities
  • Perceived risk in deploying formed combat units
  • Perceived as ‘second line’
  • Poor career development opportunities
  • Lack of diffusion between TA and regular
  • Poor use of regular reservists

Force Generation Model

  • Third Theatre Support Group and third Divisional Support Group at present state of readiness since it will be comprised of CSS units and will only be deployed at considerable notice.
  • Specialist individuals, pools and Force Support Hospitals will rotate through the same readiness level as their assigned Brigade Group: the surge hospitals will maintain a standard readiness baseline which would be elevated as their need became more imminent.
  • The UK resilience communication networks would make use of sponsored reservists and would be at a high state of readiness for local communication assurance and varying readiness levels for regional and national communication needs.
  • The units assigned to each Brigade Group would cycle through the parent Brigades readiness cycle, each brigade would have 2x reserve units so that the readiness cycle was 1 deployment every approx 6 years. For example, 1 reserve infantry battalion will generate to highest readiness over 24 months, supported by the second reserve battalion, switching on the brigades next cycle.

Brigade Group Readiness Cycle

  • Training commitment would build to an enhanced training commitment in the final year of the readiness cycle with an additional two week camp on a Brigade FTX and a MOBEX at the end of the generation cycle and a DEMOBEX at the end of the deployment phase.
  • The battalion would be reinforced by those regular reservists who leave their parent unit in the 12 months prior to the culmination of the readiness cycle and by volunteers from the second reserve unit and by additional regular reservist volunteers and shadow volunteers.
  • Each unit would in the 12 months before the culmination of the readiness cycle receive a manning increment from the regulars which would include additional permanent staff, shadow officers and reinforcement to the HQ elements that would enable the battalion to conduct operations independently.
  • Every SNCO and Officer in the reserves found to be wanting in any capacity will be replaced via the regulars or via the regular reserve of officers in the 12 month build up phase.

Maximum Level of Brigade reinforcement (enduring operation)

  • 1 infantry battalion, mounted as appropriate
  • 1 tank regiment of 2 squadrons
  • 1 FR regiment of 2 squadrons
  • 1 artillery regiment of 2 batteries
  • 1 Engineer squadron
  • 1 REME company
  • 1 Logistics company
  • 1 RMP platoon
  • 1 Medical squadron
  • Specialists as needed for the operation
  • Regular reservist and other reserve IR volunteers

Maximum Level of organic Brigade reinforcement (surge and in addition to above)

  • 1 infantry company
  • 1 tank squadron
  • 1 FR squadron
  • 1 artillery battery
  • 1 Engineer element
  • 1 REME element
  • 1 Logistics element
  • 1 Medical increment
  • Additional specialists
  • Additional regular reservist and reserve IR volunteers

Additional non organic surge capability

  • Reserve units from other brigades can be trawled for IR and BCRs and the regular reserve will trawled also. These IRs would reinforce regular and reserve units in a surge operation.

Required organic Brigade reserve units

  • 2 infantry battalions + regular reservist cell
  • 2 tank regiments with 2 squadrons ea + RR cell
  • 2 FR regiments with 2 squadrons ea + RR cell
  • 2 artillery regiments with 2 batteries ea + RR cell
  • 1 engineer regiment with 2 squadrons + RR cell
  • 1 logistics regiments with 2 squadrons + RR cell
  • 1 RMP company with 2 platoons + RR cell
  • 1 medical regiment with 2 squadrons + RR cell

These will have their HQs aligned with regular unit locations to ensure equipment can be pooled and shared and to ensure shared expertise and familiarity. The readiness reserve unit will be included in all regular unit training and planning preparations and meetings. There will be a regular liaison officer from the regular unit liaising directly with the reserve unit. The 2 tank regiments etc could be formed into one larger unit with 4 squadrons, 2 separate units are listed for ease of administration.

The Manpower

  • Officer training requires more routes. Current TA route should be supplemented with the option of doing the full Sandhurst course or an abridged Sandhurst course as part of a new UOTC stream. Reserve Officers should have access to the entire range of regular training courses. Regular and reserve Officers should be able to move freely (needs of the service permitting) between reserve and regular posts via all Officer posts being made “One Army”. This would be actively managed by the Army to ensure relevant ability and experience is kept in the regular forces (ie perhaps having limits on movements per year, or having service points etc). Reserve Officers in the pre-deployment phase would be mentored by temporary shadow regular or regular reserve Officers. Officers would all have a higher training commitment and perhaps should serve for 6 months if not on operations in the readiness cycle, amongst a regular unit on an FTRS type contract.
  • SNCOs, most of the above would apply. Higher training commitment and possibly spending 6 months every 6 years either on operations or serving in the regular army.
  • Other Ranks would continue much as now but with the higher training commitment when the unit comes to the last 18 months of the force generation cycle. They would be able to move freely between regular and reserve units and would have the option of conducting regular basic training and promotions courses and trade courses if they wished. They could also have the option of a 6 month FTRS type contract if not on ops but this would be voluntary. OR would receive reservist career postings and reserve professional development.
  • There would be a training establishment above and beyond the core strength establishment.
  • All personnel would get regular scales of personal equipment and receive a retainer during the 6 months of the culmination of the readiness period if not on operations to compensate for the higher level of readiness they would be expected to have.

Problems thus solved:

  • Lack of training time
    • increased funding and extra commitment
    • regular course posting and training opportunities
  • Unbalanced commitment
    • Higher compulsory commitment in the final 18 months of cycle
    • Higher quality SNCO and Officers produce better incentives and traininig
  • Poor ratio of effectives to ration strength
    • Better Officers more able to remove dead wood
  • Perceived risk in SNCO and Officer abilities
    • More integration, training and exposure to regular army
  • Perceived risk in deploying formed combat units
    • Build up
    • Regular increment
    • Shadow Officers
    • Joint training
  • Perceived as ‘second line’
    • Officer and SNCO posts become One Army posts
    • Kit becomes uniform and pooled
  • Poor career development opportunities
    • Better Officers and SNCOs better able to handle development
    • Regular army opportunities
  • Lack of diffusion between TA and regular
    • One Army posts and movement opportunities
  • Poor use of regular reservists
    • Regular reservist role enhanced and integrated

Regular Reserves

Better use of regular reserves needs to be made.

Every reserve unit will have a regular reservist cell which will liaise and work with regular reservists who volunteer to be at a higher state of readiness than normal regular reservists but lower than the TA commitment and liable for deployment – for specialist personnel mainly (essentially like the Danish contract soldiers).

They would be known as Section A regular reservists. Section B regular reservists would be those that have been released from the Colours but have to spend a period of time on the TA commitment level and will be liable for deployment; and also those regular reservists who wish to do this also for periods of time.

Section C regular reservists would be all others still liable to recall and their regular units would be responsible for these. Section C reservists could volunteer for Section A level of commitment or B levels of commitment depending on their trade and skill.

This model would be underpinned by “intelligent selection” whereby as far as is possible Section B reservists only deploy voluntarily. The regular reserve of officers would have a mirror organisation but with a Section D for Staff Officers and a General Officer list.

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