UK & World News
Recruitment Drive For 11,000 New Army Reserves
One of the largest military recruitment events of its kind will be held in London today to help the Ministry of Defence increase the number of Reserve forces.
Hundreds of soldiers, sailors and airmen from London-based Reserve regiments will take part in the day at Horse Guards Parade. It will include a parachute jump from a Lynx helicopter by four Reservists.
As part of plans for 'Future Force 2020', the government is hoping to increase the number of the Army Reserve from its current size of 19,000 to 30,000.
The Air Force Auxiliary is to expand to 1,800 personnel and the Navy's Maritime Reserve to 3,100. These recruits will offset large redundancies for regular servicemen and women in all three services. The Army will shrink to 82,000 soldiers from 110,000.
It is a plan that has been widely criticised from a number of corners, and there is considerable doubt over the ability of the military to hit the recruitment targets.
The most up-to-date figures will be released next month, but it's generally thought that only a few hundred new recruits have signed up this year, well short of the numbers needed.
As part of the plans, the name of the Territorial Army is changing to Reserve Force in keeping with the new image.
£1.8bn has been committed over 10 years to supplement training and equipment for Reserve soldiers in order that will receive the same level of kit as their regular counterparts.
The number of overseas training exercises will increase to 22 per year from seven last year. But this, and any operational deployments, would put increased strain on small businesses.
To compensate for that, the Ministry of Defence is offering a financial package to any companies losing staff to Reservist duty. This would allow them to recruit temporary replacement workers.
Speaking ahead of the recruitment event, the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond defended the controversial plans for the Reserve force.
"We are completely revitalising our Reserve Forces, growing their trained strength with fresh incentives, better pay and more opportunities for working and training alongside Regulars," he said.
"This exhibition highlights just how many fantastic opportunities there are for anyone looking for a rewarding, challenging and exciting second career."
Reservists will be expected to operate alongside their regular colleagues and perform the same role regardless of their part-time nature.
In an interview last month, Andrew Cameron, the Chief Executive of Combat Stress, warned that reservists are twice as likely to suffer mental health problems and predicted a growth in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cases if the Reserve Force was expanded.
The Ministry of Defence references other countries, such as the United States, which has a large and successful Reserve element to its military.