There have been reserve land forces in Britain since medieval times.
Over time, the titles and structures of these reserve forces have
changed, but until World War Two essentially comprised four separate
elements: Volunteers, Militia, and Yeomanry provided the part-time,
voluntary territorial forces; while retired Regular Army personnel made
up the Army Regular Reserve on a compulsory basis, subject to
diminishing obligations with age. Today the Army Reserve is formed from
the same components – both Regular and Volunteers, with the difference
that the erstwhile Volunteers, Militia, and Yeomanry are now
incorporated into a single volunteer force as the Army Reserve
(previously Territorial Army)..
There are three reserve elements:
The Army Regular Reserve
The Long Term Reserve
The Army Regular Reserve
Comprises ex-regular other ranks and officers who retain a liability to
be called up for military service after they leave service. Other ranks
who have voluntarily left the Army with less than 18 years service
retain a reserve liability for up to six years or until they reach the
18-year point. The Army Regular Reserve also includes personnel who have
applied to return to military service on fixed term reserve contracts.
These include some mobilised and High Readiness Reserves, Full Time
Reserve Service and Additional Duties Commitments. Officers retain a
reserve liability until they are in receipt of their pension.
During late 2014 there were about 35,000 Army Regular Reserves.
The Long Term Reserve
Consists of ex-regular other ranks who have completed their reserve
liability or have no reserve liability on discharge but who can be
recalled for service under section 68 of the Reserve Forces Act. This
would only happen under circumstances where national danger is imminent,
an emergency has arisen or in the event of an attack on the United
Kingdom. The Long Term Reserve liability includes the Regular Reserve
liability and remains to age 55 or up to 18 years after leaving service,
whichever is earlier.
During late 2014 there were about 36,000 Long Term Reserves.
The Army Reserve (Volunteers)
The Army Reserve provides highly trained soldiers who can work alongside
the Regulars on missions in the UK and overseas. Personnel are
essentially civilians who accept an annual training commitment and a
liability to call-out for permanent service (which is time-limited,
depending on the type of call-out order). They typically attend training
on a part-time basis throughout the year, including an Annual Camp which
runs for around two weeks. When they are serving or training they are
paid at the same rates as regular personnel and if they complete a
specified amount of training per year they then become eligible for an
annual Bounty payment.
Future Reserve 2020 (FR20) – Volunteer Reserves
The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) stated that the
Reserve Forces should be an integral part of this Future Force;
providing additional capacity as well as certain specialists whom it
would not be practical or cost effective to maintain in the regular
forces. The 2011 Reserve Forces Review recommended a Maritime Reserves
of 3,100 trained personnel, an Army Reserve of 30,000 trained personnel,
and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF) personnel strength of 1,800.
Current plans call for the Army Reserve to recruit up to 30,000 trained
soldiers plus another 8,000 soldiers in training, to provide an
integrated and trained Army by 2018. The Army Reserve will be manned,
trained and equipped as part of the Whole Force.
Formed Army Reserve units are paired with Regular Units.
As of early 2015 there were an estimated 20,480 trained personnel in the
Officers - 4,160
Soldiers - 16,310
As of late 2015 there are 70 major units in the Army Reserve Order of
TYPES OF ARMY RESERVES UNIT
The most familiar type of unit is the 'Independent'. This will be found
at the local Army Reserve Centre (formerly called the Drill Hall). One
or more Army Reserve units will be accommodated at the centre, varying
in size from a platoon or troop (about 30 Volunteers) to a Battalion or
Regiment (about 600 Volunteers). These units will have their place in
the Order of Battle, and as with Regular Army units, are equipped for
their role. Most of the personnel will be part-time. Volunteers parade
one evening each week and perhaps one weekend each month in addition to
the annual two-week unit training period.
Some staff with Army Reserve units will be regular soldiers. Many units
have regular Commanding Officers, Regimental Sergeant Majors, Training
Majors, Adjutants and Instructors. The Permanent Staff Instructors (PSI)
who are regular Senior Non-Commissioned Officers, are key personnel who
help organise the training and administration of the Volunteers.
In the main, Army Reserve units have a General Purpose structure which
will give them flexibility of employment across the spectrum of military
operations. All Infantry Battalions, including Parachute Battalions,
have a common establishment of three Rifle Companies and a Headquarters
Company. Each rifle company sometimes has a support platoon with mortar,
anti-tank, reconnaissance, Medium Machine Gun (MMG) and assault pioneer
sections under command.
The other type of unit is the 'Specialist'. These are located centrally,
usually at the Headquarters or Training Centre of the Arm or Corps.
Their members, spread across the country, are mainly civilians who
already have the necessary skills or specialities, and require a minimum
of military training.
An example of these can be found in the Army Medical Services Specialist
Units whose doctors, surgeons, nurses and technicians from all over the
country meet at regular intervals on a training area at home or abroad.
They are on the lowest commitment for training, which is the equivalent
of just two weekends and a two week camp each year, or it can be even
less for some medical categories.
Officer recruiting and training may take one of two forms. Officers can
be recruited from the ranks, and appointed officer cadets by their unit
commander, before taking the Army Reserve Commissioning Course at the
Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Alternatively, the direct entry
officer training scheme allows potential officers to enter officer
training right from the very start of their time in the Army Reserve.
Initial Officer Training is designed to produce officers with the
generic qualities to lead soldiers both on and off operations and
includes three weeks spent on the Army Reserve Commissioning Course at
the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.
AND CALL OUT
Before reservists can be mobilised and sent on operations, a ‘Call Out Order’
has to be signed by the Secretary of State for Defence. He has the power to
authorise the use of reserves in situations of war or on humanitarian and
Before they are sent to their operational postings, reservists must undergo a
period of induction where they are issued with equipment, given medical
examinations and receive any specialist training relevant to their operations.
For the Army Reserve and the RMR (Royal Marines Reserve), this takes place at
the Reinforcements Training and Mobilisation Centre (RTMC) near Nottingham.
Under the Reserve Forces Act 1996, principal call out powers would be brought
into effect in a crisis by the issue of a call out order. Members of the Reserve
Forces are then liable for service anywhere in the world, unless the terms of
service applicable in individual cases restrict liability to service within the
Call out powers are vested in and authorised by Her Majesty the Queen who may
make an order authorising call-out:
If it appears to her
that national danger is imminent
Or that a great
emergency has arisen
Or in the event of an
actual or apprehended attack on the United Kingdom.
The Secretary of State for Defence may make an order authorising call out:
If it appears to him that warlike preparations are in preparation or progress.
Or it appears to him that it is necessary or desirable to use armed forces on
operations outside the UK for the protection of life or property.
And for operations anywhere in the world for the alleviation of distress or
the preservation of life or property in time of disaster or apprehended
Reservists and employers may apply for deferral of, or exemption from call out.
It is recognised that those called out may not find the outcomes of their
initial applications to their satisfaction. Therefore a system of arbitration
has been set up.
Call Out Procedure
Army Reserve soldiers and officers are called out using a Call Out Notice
specifying the time, date and place to which they are to report. If Army Reserve
Units or Sub-Units are called out, they form up with their vehicles and
equipment at their Army Reserve Centres or other designated locations. They
would then be deployed by land, sea and air to their operational locations in
the UK or overseas. However, if Army Reserve personnel are called out as
individuals, they would report to a Temporary Mobilisation Centre where they
would be processed before posting to reinforce a unit or HQ.
ORGANISATION AND MANAGEMENT
Army Reserve units are widely dispersed across the country – much more so than
the Regular Forces, and in many areas they are the visible face of the Armed
Forces. They help to keep society informed about the Armed Forces, and of the
importance of defence to the nation, and have an active role supporting the
Cadet organisations. They provide a means by which the community as a whole can
contribute to the security of the United Kingdom.
The basic command structure and organisation of the Army Reserve is the same as
for Regular units, by way of regiments, battalions and companies. In addition,
the Directors of the various Arms and Services have the same responsibilities
for the Army Reserve as their Regular units.
Recruits need to be at least 17 years old in order to join the Army Reserve. The
upper age limit depends on what an individual has to offer, but it is normally
30 for those joining as an officer and 32 as a soldier. There are exceptions to
the upper age limit for those with certain specialist skills or previous
Unless recruits have previous military experience, when they join the Army
Reserve they will have to undergo basic recruit training. Basic training (Phase
1 Alpha) takes place over four weekends at Regional Army Training Units (ATU) or
an eight day course at similar training units. Following successful completion
of Phase 1 Alpha training recruits then go on to undertake a consolidated 15 day
course (Phase 1 Bravo) at the Army Training Centre (Pirbright). This
establishment is the Army’s largest single Phase 1 recruit training
establishment and is comprised of two Army training regiments, 1 ATR and 2 ATR
plus a headquarters support unit.
Both courses use training modules from the common military syllabus for standard
entry recruits. During this basic training stage, recruits will learn basic
soldiering skills according to the Army Reserve Common Military Syllabus. This
covers areas as diverse as how to wear uniform, physical fitness, weapon
handling, first aid, fieldcraft, map reading and military terminology.
ATR (Pirbright) has an average annual throughput of approximately 4,700
recruits. In addition, there are nine regional ATUs.
Personnel who have qualified through TSC A and B form the main part of the
active, Army Reserve. They train regularly, and are paid at the same rates as
the regular forces on a pro-rata basis.
Most volunteers commit to around some 40 days training a year, comprised of
drill nights and weekends plus 4 days annual training. Some reservists exceed
The Reserve Forces Act 1996 provided for other categories of reservists, such
Full Time Reserve
Service (FTRS) – reservists who wish to serve full time with
regulars for a predetermined period in a specific posting.
Commitment – part-time service for a specified period in a
The Act also provided a category of service:
Sponsored Reserves, are contractor staff who have agreed to join the Reserves
and have a liability to be called up when required to continue their civilian
work on operations alongside the Service personnel who depend upon them. Some
3,000 sponsored reservists have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Two structures have been set up within the Army Reserve in order to improve
management of reserves:
Reserves Manning and Career Management Division
Reinforcement, Training and Mobilisation Centre (RTMC)
The role of the first is to centralise the coordination of all personnel
management for the Army Reserve, bringing it more into line with the regular
Army and also providing a single focus for identifying and notifying individuals
for mobilisation, while the second is in charge of administrative preparation,
individual training and provision of human resources requirements of individual
There are current major efforts to improve Army Reserve recruiting but getting
to a total of 30,000 trained personnel is going to be a challenge. The drop-out
rate among volunteers can be as high as 30 per cent in the three first years of
their engagement and unless figures like these can be turned around it will be
difficult to make any meaningful increase in the numbers available.
The RTMC is based at Chilwell near Nottingham and prepares all branches of the
Reserve Forces and Civilians for service with the Regular Forces (in addition to
Regular Individual Reinforcements). Service can range from deployment into an
operational area or for a humanitarian mission.
The RTMC also assists in welcoming the troops back into the UK on return from
operations and helping them return to their civilian lives.
Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Association (RFCA)
At local level, administration and support of the major elements of the Reserve
Forces are carried out through the Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Association,
working within the context described in the 1996 Reserve Forces Act. This is a
tri-Service role which has been carried out by the Reserve Forces' and Cadets'
Association and their predecessor organisations for many years. It is an unusual
arrangement, but has been found to be a successful one. The Reserve Forces' and
Cadets' Association system ensures that people from the local communities in
which the Reserve Forces and Cadets are based, are involved in the running of
Reserve and Cadet units. It also provides Reserve Forces and Cadets
representatives with the right of direct access to Ministers, so that they can
make representation about Reserves issues. This provides an important balance
and ensures that the case for the Reserves is clearly articulated at a high
Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Association have a second role as administrators and
suppliers of services to the Reserve and cadet forces organisations.
SaBRE (Supporting Britain’s Reservists and Employees)
SaBRE has grown out of the National Employers' Liaison Committee (NELC) which
was formed in 1986 with a brief to provide independent advice to Ministers on
the measures needed to win and maintain the support of employers, in both the
public and private sectors, for those of their employees who are in the
Volunteer Reserve Forces (VRF). The committee is made up of prominent
businessmen and is supported by the secretariat. SaBRE provides advice on:
The ways of
educating employers on the role of the Reserve Forces in
national defence, the vital role employers have to play in
giving their support, and the benefits to employers and their
employees of Reserve Forces training and experience.
The current problems and attitudes of employers in relation to service by
their employees in the Reserve Forces.
Methods and inducements needed to encourage and retain the support of
Appropriate means of recognising and publicising support given by employers to
the Reserve Forces.
RESERVE FORCES PAY
The Reserve Forces Act (RFA) 1996 enables reimbursement to be made to
Employers and Reservists for some of the additional costs of employees
being called out. Some reservists will have financial commitments
commensurate with their civilian salary and so provisions are in place
to minimise financial hardship.
The MoD is also able to offset the indirect costs of employees being
called out incurred by an employer, for example, the need to recruit and
train temporary replacements. If employers or reservists are
dissatisfied with the financial assistance awarded they may appeal to
tribunals set up for this.
Army Reserve personnel are paid for every hour of training. They also
receive an annual bonus, known as a bounty, subject to achieving a
minimum time commitment. Travel costs for training are refunded.
As of 2015, daily rates of pay are the same for Army Reserve personnel
and their Regular Army equivalents (See Pay Scales in the Miscellaneous
Chapter). The exact pay rate also varies according to particular trade
and type of commitment.
Hourly income is taxable, but the Annual Training Bounty is a tax-free
lump sum. The value of the bounty depends on the specific unit and
individual training requirement but, on a higher commitment. There is an
annual training commitment to qualify for a bounty.