Reservists move 'a military gamble'
06 July 2012
Moves to double the "fighting force" of reservists in the British Army to 30,000 will not make up for the loss of 20,000 regular soldiers by 2020 and could be seen as a 'military gamble', Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy has said.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond set out plans to restructure the army in Parliament yesterday, and 'Army 2020' will see regular troop numbers fall to 82,000, while the number of reservists rises to around 30,000 in the same timeframe, accopmanied by £1.8bn of investment.
While the official number of army reservists already stands at over 31,000, previous Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the "fighting force" available from that number could be as low as 14,000.
Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy said Labour supported an increased role for reservists, but that they could not fill the gap left by the 20,000 fewer regular troops.
"To many, that appears to be not a response to the threats, but a self-made capability gap," he said. "Some will see this as a military gamble, and it is undoubtedly an enormous employment challenge."
However, in a detailed ministerial statement, Hammond said that there would be a "new deal" for reservists, who would be better trained and equipped and would play a greater role in army operations in future.
"There is ring-fenced money for kit and training in a way that there has not been in the past. That kit has already started to arrive," Hammond wrote.
"This year, reserve formations will train overseas. The number of units training overseas this year will be 26 and that will increase over time. Vital to this process are the integration of the reserves, the deal for employers and the deal for reservists, which involves a greater commitment on our behalf, but also expects a clearer commitment from them about their liability to deployment."