Guest speaker: Lieutenant General Mark Mans CBE, Adjutant General and Inspector General of the TA with Cdre Bob Mansergh RN, Head of Reserve Forces and Cadets, and Col Sam Evans OBE
Julian Brazier MP (Chairing)
Lord De Mauley
Gerald Howarth MP
Lindsay Hoyle MP
Laura Moffatt MP
Bob Russell MP
Desmond Swayne MP
Dari Taylor MP
Sir Peter Viggers MP
Col Julian Radcliffe (sponsor)
Col Hugh Purcell
Col George Butler
Lt Ric Amorosi RN
Keith Mans (Air)
Col Paul Beaver
Election of Officers:
Lindsay Hoyle MP and Tony Baldry MP were made additional Vice Chairmen
Gregory Barker MP
Peter Bottomley MP
Derek Conway MP
Julian Lewis MP
Patrick Mercer MP
Mike Penning MP
Chairman’s Opening Remarks
The Chairman introduced Lieutenant General Mark Mans to the Group, giving a brief resume of his career and highlighting that as the Adjutant General he was also Commander Regional Forces and Inspector General of the TA. He also introduced Commodore Bob Mansergh, the new head of Reserves Forces & Cadets in the MoD and Col Sam Evans, Colonel Reserves General Staff, the senior TA advisor to Brigadier General Staff who was standing in for Brigadier Tom O’Brien, Director Reserves (Army).
Lt Gen Mans thanked the Chair for inviting him to speak and explained that Col Sam Evans had stepped in at the last minute after Brigadier Tom O’Brien had become ill, to ensure that between them both the Regular and TA sides were represented.
Lt Gen Mans said he would talk the Group through a power point presentation, which is attached and that he would cover Responsibilities, Operational Commitments, and Manning and would finish with the Future – the development of Reserves.
A new Land Forces Structure had come into being on 9th December 2009 and that in addition to the Commander and Chief, General Sir Peter Wall and two, two star command secretariats, there were now four subordinate three star commands, two of which were supporting and two supported. This new structure was already working well.
As the Army’s Principal Personnel Officer he is responsible for all matters to do with personnel, both Regular and TA. He is also the Army’s Inspector of Reserves ensuring coherence of policy, influencing and contributing to the development of the TA and safeguarding the Reserves’ Proposition. His role includes delivering the Army’s Firm Base, a concept designed to provide a secure environment at home and overseas, that sustains the Army, enables training for and deployment on operations and ensures the consent and support of the public and host nations.
He then drew the Group’s attention to a slide showing the percentage of Reserves deployed on operations over the last four years, and the most recent figure which was close to the historic norm of between 7 to 9%. He stated that within the UK Operation GIRAFFE in Cumbria, to provide support to civil communities affected by the recent floods, had been an excellent example of Regulars and Reserves working together in support of the Emergency Services and that it had been the first time High Readiness Reserves had been mobilised under the Reserve Forces Act 96.
Manning figures for the year 2009 showed that the TA was 10% under strength against liability. Addressing the 20% officer shortfall, he said there was a need to turn requests into more officers on the ground, which would need better marketing of the TA officer offer, particularly in the media (TV and on the Web). He thought that the Army was ‘missing a trick’ when it came to the OTCs and he had set up a review to decide what they were for and in order to maximise their contribution. There was also a case for condensing the time spent in commissioning training by making it more concentrated. Addressing the soldier shortfall, he said there had been a 14% increase in 2009 figures compared with 2008, showing that the recruits were out there. As it would take more resources to recruit to 100%, he said there was a pressing need to develop and build on linkages between Commanders Regional Recruiting and RFCAs, CE CRFCA was an enthusiastic supporter and already there was evidence that it was getting better.
Lt Gen Mans finished by addressing the future. The Review of Reserves (RoR) and the subsequent ECAB paper on TA development (July 09) had set the direction of travel. The Green Paper had been published earlier this month, with much mention of Reserves compared to any previous Green Paper, and he hoped that the Defence Review would get under way in the summer. The RoR had produced 7 strategic recommendations and he highlighted three: the TA was needed for augmentation, for maximum effort and connecting with the nation. And there was a need for a balance between the Reserves and the Regulars. The proposition – ‘Defence will offer the challenge and reward which attracts people to volunteer, and undertakes to train and support them throughout their Service, including when mobilised and recuperating’ - was an important element and any action taken in the future had to be tested against it.
Ongoing TA Development involved three work streams: defining capabilities and structures, developing a graduated commitment model, and examining command and control and the estate lay down. To use TA on operations more and make sure they had the right training required a new more refined model, which was being designed and this would introduce a new way of doing business that would target the resources available more effectively.
He flagged up three extracts from the Green Paper that were part of the preparation for the forthcoming Defence Review and how we might use Reserves in the future – creating greater flexibility between Regular and Reserve Forces to ensure to ensure a wider range of skills and a larger personnel pool; being able to reconstitute military capabilities to enable access to a full range of balanced capabilities with appropriate warning time without having to maintain those capabilities in the Regular Army at all times; and enhancing the flexibility of Regular forces through greater integration of the Reserves. He explained that TA capabilities were derived from the Military Tasks, that increased emphasis was being place on Military Assistance to Stabilisation & Development (MASD) and that the structures would then follow to deliver the agreed capabilities. He stated that this required a decision on what was wanted from the TA in terms of capabilities, that greater integration within the Regular Army’s future structures might be the result, but whatever was decided, all future TA capabilities and structures would be tested against the Proposition.
The Chair thanked Lt Gen Mans for his talk stating that while he had been sceptical about much of what had been said he was particularly reassured by the last comment on the Proposition.
1. Julian Brazier MP asked about whether the comparison between the costs of Regulars and Territorials was being done rigorously and were the costs of pensions, housing and allowances included?
Lt Gen Mans replied that Regular Soldier Cost Model in theory picks up on everything e.g., pensions, national insurance and second orders costs such as housing. However, the model for the Reserves is not very refined, in particular when establishing the cost of the TA soldier, and it needed more focus and refinement. A lot of the support structures for the Regular Army, such as infrastructure, are not factored accurately into the cost of the TA as the technology to do this is lacking.
2. Desmond Swayne MP asked about the length of time it takes to get an OTC officer commissioned, as there was a huge opportunity to exploit OTCs, and secondly how was it going to be impacted by budget problems in the next financial year?
Lt Gen Mans replied that this was being talked about; it might need some extra resources or the Army might look at what it already had and just do things better. Resources, or the lack of them, would impact, but not totally, and he believed that he could deliver on this.
3. Laura Moffatt MP stated that for many members of Parliament the structure of the TA and the interface with communities was what made it precious and hence the strength of the complaints about the training cuts that had been made last year. Some of the issues raised are very interchangeable and she asked that there be proper recognition of that. Also how were we going to look after our cadet forces in this new way of looking at Reserve Forces and keep their visibility and professionalism?
Lt Gen Mans replied that the phrase “connecting with the nation” had been endorsed by the Army Board and was articulated through the Firm Base model. In terms of delivering on the Firm Base the Army would stay connected to the nation. However there would be discussions and trade-offs in terms of the ‘footprint’, but any shrinkage should only be undertaken knowing the downside. He believed that it probably would shrink, a difficult call, but on the other hand it might be decided not to shrink it and to take a risk on TA recruiting. It would be a difficult decision but at least there was now a model to measure things against.
4. Lord De Mauley asked about the officer shortfall stating that there used to be a process called Fast Track which had got them through the whole commissioning procedure in 8 weeks. Is this something that could be looked at again?
Col Sam Evans replied that there was a fast-track training scheme in place called Ex Summer Leader, which was an 8-week course available for potential officers across the whole TA, both Group A and B commissions, that prepared suitable individuals for the RMAS commissioning course.
5. Lord De Mauley asked about soldier recruiting and assumed that up to 30% were untrained at any point in time. His concern was that Lt Gen Mans had said that he needed to be resourced better to enable him to recruit up to 100%, but he couldn’t recruit above 100% as you cannot physically achieve this. What was he hoping to do about that?
Lt Gen Mans replied that here was a dynamic between trained and untrained figures and that the 30% figure was broadly correct, but there was the issue of recruiting being capped at 80%. It was purely a resource issue that he was addressing, noting that everyone still understood the recruiting target still stood at 100%
6. Lord Rogan asked about retention.
Lt Gen Mans replied that there was a shortfall of 10,000 personnel against the TA establishment but people were coming through the door . There was also a newish breed of TA soldier coming in who clearly understood the operational imperative; it was the older ones that were leaving but they needed to make sure they did not lose the younger ones.
Col Sam Evans clarified the two dynamics; that long term members of the TA who had reached their 20 year point and did not want to go on operations were now leaving, and that the 30% turnover being observed at unit level was partially made up of the older members leaving, a certain amount of loss in recruiting pipeline, with the balance made up from those leaving within the first three years of their TA service having completed an operational tour.
7. Dari Taylor MP described her real sense of the military and that she was also Honorary Colonel of the Durham Cadets. She stated that the shortage of female officers in the TA was worrying and while the Army was beginning to attract potential officers again these were not young women, nor for that matter were female soldiers being attracted. She asked whether the marketing was as good as it could be and if it could be improved in any way.
Lt Gen Mans replied that there was a similar problem in the Regular Army, and therefore they needed to look at marketing and see where it could be improved. The Army needed to make more of the roles of females that were, or had, served in Afghanistan, or on other operations. He noted the point and despite it being a resource matter, believed they should do more in this area. He also noted that there were a high proportion of females in the cadets that was not replicated in the TA and the Regular Army.
8. Sir Peter Viggers MP stated that he understood the need for the TA and that there was a risk in basing future strategy on the unexpected not happening again. He thought that the Army should concentrate on getting specialist skills into the TA, some of which might not be needed every day, such as interpreters and so-called ‘cyber warriors’ with specialist computer skills. He also asked about officer recruitment.
Lt Gen Mans replied that interpreters and computers skills contributed directly to MASD and that the Army needed to improve in the area of military assistance to civilian effect and that there were untapped resource within the TA. There were also other skill sets needed and the Army was not maximising capabilities that were already there. There was a focus on hybrid structures but there was a need for other structures for regeneration over time for Maximum Effort. Regarding recruiting, it came back to the marketing bit and he noted the point; there was going to be a debate.
Lord Rogan believed that the lack of funding meant that the money was only being used for training specific to deployment and that this was having a bad affect on those who were not going to be deployed and they were not getting training.
Lt Gen Mans replied that that this was true in this financial year, as the Army had needed to make some very quick savings and it could only afford to train people who were being deployed. The new Financial Year would begin on 1 April and while he couldn’t put his hand on his heart, there was nothing to tell him otherwise and he expected all TA soldiers to have adequate training again.
The Chairman thanked Lt Gen Mans for a very interesting talk and also Cdre Mansergh and Col Evans.
Colonel (Retd.) Hugh Purcell OBE DL, Honorary Clerk to the APGRF&C