All Blogposts contain only personal views and are published in an entirely personal capacity. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment unless I have refused to delete the comment following a valid complaint. Any complaint must set out the grounds for the deletion of the comment. I also reserve the right to delete comments that - in my opinion, are offensive or make unsubstatiated accusations against persons or groups. Like the BBC, this Blog is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. (with thanks to Valleys Mam's blog where I nicked most of this from).


7 Jul 2012

Defence Of The Realm ( They don't like it up 'em! )

In the last few days we have seen the Armed Forces lined up for cuts that will reduce it considerably.  The Army - of which I was a member will be dramatically reduced and the Infantry in particular will be severely affected.  In fact the Infantry will be smaller than it was before Napoleon was a threat.

The Government is pushing the idea that the TA will fill the gaps. I served 22 years in the Regular Army in the Infantry, with the last three of those as the Regular Army Heavy Weapons (mortars) Instructor attached to a TA Infantry Battalion. Will the TA be able to fill the gap?  The short answer to that is 'NO'.    The long answer is 'definately NO'.
What we are talking here in the main is using TA Infantry to bolster regular Infantry.  This happens now with varying degrees of success whereby TA Infantry soldiers will join the regulars for a 6 month stint in Afghanistan or wherever.  However to do that 6 month tour they usually go to the 'Regs' for a year as it takes a few months to get them up to speed,  then they need to do the pre-deployment training,  the deployment itself and then finally a couple of weeks off at the end whilst they are transferred back to the TA.  So in order to get a 6 month operational tour out of them requires a year of their time.
Now then,  what makes a TA Infantry soldier.  For starters very few ex-Regs join.  Most of those that do leave very quickly because it was not what they expected as it is so different to the Regs.   In the TA  unit I was attached to a heavy amount were actually students using it as a means of helping pay their way through college.   Then there were ordinary workers from both the public and private sector,  then there were a smattering of unemployed between jobs. 
As for the unit strength?   Less than half of the soldiers on my books actually turned in.   The remainder were 'non-effectiver' - ie hadn't been seen in months - years in some cases,  and were kept on the books purely as a method of making the unit appear better manned on paper than it was in reality (the good thing about MOD and politicians is they are remarkably thick and believe figures are real and somehow should be believed.  No they aren't.  Figures exist purely to be manipulated.).  Budget was allocated on strength and therefore more men on paper was more money which you could use to concentrate on soldiers that attended frequently.
Now this is where the crunch comes.  By far and away the best attenders I had were the students.  They would attend rain, wind or shine,  extra days etc etc, go away with the 'Regs' on 6 week live firing exercises to Canada,  - motivated purely by money.  Once their three years was up and they had finished in college that was the last you saw of them.  But they were good heavy attenders, young, eager, bright and easy to train.   The downside for the government is that these people are not going to leave college for a year to bail-out a shortage in the 'Regs'.
Then you had the private sector workers.  Mainly working shifts and so their attendance was haphazard and revolved around their shift work and overtime.  Many had employers that were openly hostile to them being in the TA (some major company names as well).  Some were so hostile that the soldiers kept it secret from them.
Then you had public sector workers.  They had as a rule more stable work patterns and obviously more compliant employers.  They tended to do the minimum - couple of tuesday nights a month, one weekend a month, 2 week summer camp.  Just enough to qualify for their bounty payment - which in turn paid for their summer holiday.  They tended to be long term and as a result occupied the rank structure from Corporal up to Sergeant Major.   The big downside on these people was that most of them were in jobs that were reserved occupations - fire brigade, health workers, teachers, Police Officers & PCSOs etc,  so there is no way they can be mobilised without it having serious repurcusions.
Then there were those unemployed.   They were strictly governed on how often they could attend by how much they were allowed to earn before it screwed their benefits.  But the young single ones were a rich seam of potential recruits for the 'Regs' and/or 1 year short attachments for an operational tour.
You have got no chance of replacing swathes of regular Infantry with the TA unless you change major laws and really punish and publicly humiliate employers large and small and guarentee in law certain rights for TA soldiers.   You also need to put an awful lot more time, money and Regular Army instructors into it, allocate more training days, more training space on ranges, exercise areas and better facilities. Don't do that and this will definately fall flat on it's arse.    Do it and it probably will but at least you will have a chance.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...
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The Red Flag said...

I have removed the above post. It is extreme-Right nazi nonsense and I support the 'No Platform' with regards to them.

Anonymous said...
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The Red Flag said...

It means that.

Guesty said...

Remember the welsh clearances on Mynydd yr epynt