Future Reserves 2020 (FR20) was initiated by the Prime Minister to examine the future shape and role of the UK’s Reserves Forces immediately after the Security Defence and Security Review 2010, it was conducted by an independent commission and reported in July 2011.
Future Reserves 2020
The FR 20 vision is to provide a Reserve Force that is an integral element of the Whole Force optimised to deliver assured capability across all military tasks on operations at home and abroad; that harnesses for Defence the widest pool of talent in the UK. A force for good in the community, effectively representing Defence and Society sustained by good formal governance safeguards and an appropriately resourced and equitable Reserve Proposition.
In the report is the enticing prospect of an expanded Maritime Reserve Force, significantly better funded and resourced, along with new roles and training opportunities with a promise of increased civilian protection employment in law for both individual Reserves and further support for the employers of Reserves Personnel.
Following the Government’s ringing endorsement of the recommendations of the Independent Report, the Maritime Reserves HQ staff have commenced a programme tackling the key challenges towards implementing the recommendations accepted recently by the Ministry of Defence. As the plans for all three services are drawn together, the MOD is expected to announce the programme formally, to commence from April 2012.
Main Conclusions of the Report
Our Reserve Forces are in decline
By our national historic standards and by comparison with other nations our Reserves form too small a part of our overall national military capability. The Proposition we currently offer our Reservists has declined; the opportunities for individual and collective training have reduced; the prospects for promotion and command opportunity are less. The offer that we make is ceasing to attract a sustainable Reserve and the demands of individual augmentation for operations have accelerated the institutional decline of our Reserve Forces.
We have failed to modernise Reservist roles
The purpose for which we hold Reserves and the roles to which we attribute them have not been updated to match the demands of the new security environment. For example, the Territorial Army is still structured for large scale intervention operations. We have not fully re-assessed the utility of Reserves in the context of Homeland Security, UK Resilience, wider specialist capabilities such as stabilisation and cyber, and as a formal mechanism for regeneration.
We are not exploiting the potential of our Reserves
We are not fully harnessing the volunteer ethos of society or exploiting the best talent the country has to offer. We are denying the opportunity to adopt a far more cost-effective manpower balance across the Armed Forces. And, by failing to exploit the Reserves more fully, we are contributing to an erosion of the links between our Armed Forces and wider society.
We are not using the Reserves efficiently
We are not using our Reserves in the most cost-effective manner. The Reserve estate needs rationalisation, the training overheads need optimisation and Reserve units need better mechanisms to partner with the Regular component. The force generation of the Reserve component needs to be done more efficiently, with a greater guarantee of quality and a surer knowledge of availability.
Notwithstanding these sobering conclusions, the Commission fully recognises the remarkable contribution that our Reserve Forces continue to make to operations. Indeed, the outstanding acts of individual and collective service, particularly on recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, show that, despite the true and worrying condition of our Reserve Forces, their potential remains invaluable.
In the context of these major conclusions, the following recommendations are made:
Stabilisation and Betterment
Resources are needed immediately to arrest the severe decline in the state of the Reserves. Included in this is the need for a revised Proposition which provides the challenge and reward that makes Reserve service worthwhile and sustainable. This will require enhancements to individual, collective and command training. It will also require increased command opportunities, in peacetime and on operations. The Reserve will require new roles, more viable structures and better mechanisms to integrate with the Regular component. We estimate that a betterment package, when coupled with the need to abate other savings measures against Reserves, will cost £590M over four years.
The National Security Council should examine the breadth of roles which Reservists undertake. We recommend that Reservists should play a greater part in Homeland Security (for example, maritime coastal protection) and UK Resilience. We are not advocating a third force, rather that Reserves should have a more formal role in support of specific security tasks and their local civil communities. More widely, specialist tasks should expand, specifically in areas such as cyber, stabilisation and medical roles in humanitarian crises. Beyond individual operational augmentation, Reserves should be able to meet some operational tasks as formed sub-units and units. And our Reserves must form the framework around which military regeneration can be effected.
The availability of a larger and more usable Reserve has to be guaranteed. Such a guarantee has to be underpinned by legislative changes which permit greater ease of mobilisation, better employee protection and greater recognition of employers, perhaps through a nationally endorsed Kitemark. We should exploit the potential for innovative partnerships between Defence, Education and Industry to optimise the sharing and development of human talent. And we need modern administrative systems for enlistment, processing and transfer between the Regular forces and the Reserves.
Adjusting the Regular/Reserve Balance
Defence should adopt a Whole Force Concept which optimises the most cost-effective balance of Regular, Reserve, Contractor and Civilian manpower. Within this, the Reserve element should proportionately increase. By 2015, the trained strength* of the Reserves should be: Royal Navy Reserves/Royal Marine Reserves 3,100; Territorial Army 30,000 and Royal Auxiliary Air Force 1,800. Thereafter, the size of the Reservist component should increase further to maximise the cost effectiveness of having a larger Reserve component within the Whole Force.
In order to improve the efficiency of Force Generation, the Reserve estate should be rationalised in a way that is sensitive to maintaining geographically-dispersed local links whilst providing access to training.
A revised governance structure for the Reserve is recommended to first, oversee the implementation of recommendations arising from this Review; second, to provide an independent mechanism to report to the Ministry of Defence and Parliament on the state of the Reserves; and third, to help ensure the appropriate influence of certain Reserve appointments.
The Commission believes that, if these recommendations are carried through, then the overall capability, utility and resilience of our Armed Forces will be enhanced in a way that meets the security, financial and societal challenges of the day, and in a way that maintains continuity with historic British practice.
What this means for the Maritime Reserves
FR20 provides an enormous opportunity for the Maritime Reserves, including the following:
Larger and re-invigorated Maritime Reserve Forces
- Intend to build from an overall strength now of 2,700 to a new total of 4,150 by 2020.
- RMR Liability is unchanged but a recruiting drive will build strength. RNR Liability will increase by 26% - a real increase of around 50%.
- Regular:Reserve balance will increase from around 92:8 toward 88:12
Transformed to meet future needs
- A larger and stable body of Reserves to meet the unexpected
- Across a broad range of duties including seagoing (eg the COUGAR Task Force). Attributed formally to operational roles.
Potential new roles
- Homeland security (inc Coastal) and Resilience are still potentials – await direction from the National Security Council in November 11. Also greater use in Stabilisation (deployed).
Expansion of C4ISTAR etc
- These areas have already been identified as offering considerable potential to expand utility in a cost-effective way.
Enhanced Training and Leadership
- The intent is to offer more back to the Reservist and the employers, through increased training opportunities and developing the command and leadership qualities of our people (as well as having more fun on occasions.)
- There will be increased emphasis on building teamwork and the creation of more formed sub-units. This could mean, for example, a deployed MR team (RNR and RMR) providing the embarked military force to the ATP(N) vessel engaged in seasonal disaster relief and counter-narcotics work.
More Flexible and increased employment
- The growth in utility is not just through deployed or mobilised operations. There will also be increased opportunity for temporary or semi-permanent employment contracts across the Naval Service as a whole.
Civilian skill-sets and ex-regulars
- Obviously it makes sense to employ ex-regulars, but the MR will remain predominantly “pure” Reservists. The civilian skills brought in may be of increasing value to the whole force, for example to support stabilisation operations overseas, and UK resilience.
Summary of what this means to the RNR
- A 50% larger RNR
- Configured for future operational needs in seagoing and joint operations
- New roles and opportunities – properly resourced
- Expansion of C4ISTAR, MOS, Air Branch
Summary of what this means to the RMR
- RMR will grow to full current Reservist liability
- Adaptation of RMR capabilities to match the needs of the RM
- Deeper integration with the RM - the key to success
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