army11a2 - Role of The Territorial Army





There is no longer a separate Territorial Army; there is just one Army, with the TA units dovetailing into the Army's organisation and Order of Battle.

The role of the TA is to provide units and individuals to reinforce the Army, many of whose Brigades and Divisions have a proportion of both Regular and TA units.

The basic command structure and organisation of TA units is the same as for Regular units, by way of Regimental or Battalion, Brigade, Divisional and District Headquarters. In addition, the Directors of the various Arms and Services have the same responsibilities for the TA as their Regular units. At the Headquarters of Regional Forces, the Commander is also Inspector General of the TA.

Variety in the TA

There is as much variety in the TA as there is in the Regular Army, which provides a series of military functions, each represented by a Regiment or Corps. The Army is divided into Arms and Services. Arms consist of those units and soldiers who are actively involved in the fighting of any battle, and the Services are all the other Corps in the Army who provide, as their name would suggest, a service to the combat arms.

Although some Regiments or Corps may appear to be more glamorous than others, none of them will function effectively without the support of the whole. Just as a Regular Army Regiment or Corps has its special role, so does every TA unit.


The most familiar type of unit is the 'Regional'. This will be found at the local Territorial Army Centre (formerly called the Drill Hall). One or more Army 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 at each TA Centre 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, TA Infantry 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 has a support platoon with, mortar, anti-tank, reconnaissance, MMG and assault pioneer sections under command.

The other type of unit is the 'National'. 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, often in York, or at 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.


The ages for joining the TA are 17-43 except for UKSF(R) who have a cut off age of 32 (34 with previous military experience). In some exceptional cases it has been known for people to join the TA over the upper age limit if their trade/occupation is sought after by the Army.

Under a new incentive, ex-regular soldiers joining the TA have a reduced training and mobilisation liability for 3 years from discharge, this equates to only having to complete 19 days, have reduced MATT's and are required to attend a 15 day camp.

Under this incentive they also cannot be mobilised within the 3 year period. This is to help encourage ex-regs to join the TA, also if joining within 2 years of leaving regular service a soldier could be entitled to the full 5 year bounty (1556) instead of starting at the lower sum.

The TA soldier training is now split between the unit and the local Regional Training Centre where phase one training is conducted. Phase 2 training is conducted at an ATR or ITC Catterick for the Infantry. Recruit Selection also takes place at the RTCs and is a day long version of what Regular Army candidates undergo at the ADSCs with the exception of doing the BARB test while on selection.

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 TA Commissioning Course at the Military Academy Sandhurst. Alternatively the new direct entry officer training scheme allows potential officers to enter officer training right from the very start of their time in the TA. 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 TA Commissioning Course at the Military Academy Sandhurst.


Following the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, an extensive restructuring of the Territorial Army took place with the aim of making it more relevant, more usable and more fully integrated into the regular armed forces. As a result of the restructuring, the establishment strength of the Territorial Army reduced to 41,200, while some 35,480 personnel were on strength in September 2004 compared to an establishment 41,820. The Territorial Army was restructured to:

  • allow it to meet new operational demands - the sort of demands it is likely to face in the 21st century

  • maintain close links with the community and society at large through a broad presence across all regions of the country

  • provide a degree of insurance to allow the generation of a larger force if required at some time in the future

The restructured Territorial Army became less focused on the traditional role of home defence and placed a greater emphasis on more relevant tasks such as supporting and sustaining deployed regular forces in operational areas like the Balkans. In order to do this, the Territorial Army now concentrated on roles such as artillery, air defence, signallers, logisticians and particularly medical services.

The restructured TA is:

  • more closely integrated with the regular Army

  • more able and responsive in meeting changed operational demands

  • trained to operate modern battle-winning equipments including Challenger 2 tanks and AS90 heavy artillery

  • more demanding of, but also more rewarding to, those who volunteer providing wider opportunities for service and recognition of skills and training acquired.

More recent operations like Operation TELIC (Iraq) and VERITAS ( Afghanistan) have marked the emergence of the TA as the reserve of first choice to support British land forces on operations. Between 1998 and December 2004, 18,979 statutory notices of compulsory mobilization were issued to TA members, and there have been 14,813 acceptances into mobilised service in support of operations overseas. This represents approximately 45%. and 35% respectively of the current TA establishment of 41,820. A small number of personnel have been accepted into mobilized service on more than one occasion during the period.

The Army recognises that, at any time, there are some volunteers who are unable to deploy owing to personal circumstances and others who are still under training and not yet ready for operations. TA units will therefore be established so that they are able to recruit and train additional manpower at their peacetime location.


TA 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 April 2007, daily rates of pay are the same for TA personnel and their Regular Army equivalents. The latest 2007 rates are 39.80 (starting rate) for a Private to 125.75 for a Major (mid rate). The exact rate also varies according to particular trade and type of commitment.

Hourly income is taxable, but the Annual 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, TA soldiers and officers start by receiving 395 in their first year. After five years satisfactory service, this rises to 1,556.

The annual training commitment to qualify for bounty is:

  • Independent Units: 27 days including 15 days continuous at camp

  • Specialist Units: 19 days including 15 days continuous at camp

In each case, individuals may attend one or more courses aggregated to at least eight days duration in lieu of camp, with the balance of seven days being carried out in extra out-of-camp training.