Territorial Army: Rebalancing

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:02 pm on 23rd March 2006.

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Photo of Lord Drayson Lord Drayson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Defence Procurement), Ministry of Defence, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Procurement) 2:02 pm, 23rd March 2006

My Lords, I accept a number of the points the noble Lord makes, drawing on his deep experience in this area. This reflects the realities of the modern world. The noble Lord highlights the difficulty of people being able to deploy on operations being consistent with their civilian duties. That is the case. However, we have concluded, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, mentioned earlier, that having a one-army approach, where Reserves are deployed as an integral part of the regular army, such that, on operations, it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between a reservist and a regular soldier, is absolutely the way to go. Therefore, we also have to manage these issues, which are also of concern to us. Retention, particularly of experienced officers, is something we must manage better. We are specifically looking at those issues in order to meet the conflict between the two areas.

Today we do not face the problem of having insufficient personnel for operations. The feedback I have received, and my own experience of talking to people in the Reserve Forces, show no shortage of volunteers to go on operations. Quite the opposite: there is a certain sense of being "well up for" the challenge. We are not facing challenges as regards the capacity required to mobilise, even given the tempo of operations we face. We recognise the issue we must manage in the long term. Ministers are aware of it and we are on the case.