army11a3.1 - The Reserve Forces Act 1996 - Mobilisation and Call Out procedure




Before reservists can be mobilised and sent on operations, a Call Out Order has to be signed by the Defence Secretary. He has the power to authorise the use of reserves in situations of war or on humanitarian and peacekeeping operations.

Before they are sent to their 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 TA and the RMR, this takes place at the new Reserves Training and Mobilisation Centre.

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 UK

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 disaster.

Under normal circumstances, the maximum continuous periods of permanent service which individuals can serve under the above powers are respectively three years, twelve months and nine months. In exceptional circumstances the three years may be increased to five and the twelve months to two years but under the third power, no extensions can be ordered beyond the maximum of nine months. Under each power, provisions also limit the maximum aggregated time a reservist can spend in permanent service over given lengths of time.

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.


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.

Full and Part Time Service: One provision of the RFA 96 is that reservists can now undertake periods of full or part time employment with the Armed Forces. This is not a call-out but a voluntary arrangement to make it possible for the Services to make more flexible use of their manpower assets. There are no fixed time limits. If a task needs doing, there is sufficient budget and a suitable volunteer is available for the job, then it can be done.


TA soldiers are called-out using the same procedures as for Individual Reservist (IR) - ie. they are sent a Call-Out Notice specifying the time, date and place to which they are to report. If TA Units or Sub-Units are called-out, they form up with their vehicles and equipment at their TA 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 TA 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.

IR are required to keep at home an Instruction Booklet (AB 592A), their ID card and a personalised Booklet (AB 592B). The AB 592A provides IR with general instructions on what they have to do if mobilised. It contains a travel warrant and a special cash order. The AB 592A is computer produced and updated quarterly as required to take account of such changes as address, medical category and age. It explains where the reservist is to report on mobilisation and arrangements for pay and allotments, next-of-kin, clothing held etc.

Under present legislation IR may only be mobilised if called-out by Queen's Order. Mobilisation may involve only a few individuals/units or any number up to general mobilisation when all are called out. If mobilisation is authorised Notices of Call-Out are despatched to those IR concerned by Recorded Delivery as the legal notification. Announcements of call-out are also made by the press, radio and television.

Under the Reserve Forces Act 1996, IR are liable to call-out under the same new provisions as described above for the TA. In addition, the Act brings the conditions relating to all three Services in line and includes officers and pensioners who were previously covered by separate legislation/Royal Warrants.


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 2011, daily rates of pay are the same for TA personnel and their Regular Army equivalents. The 2011 rates are 45 (starting rate) for a Private to 140 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 405 in their first year. After five years satisfactory service, this rises to 1,674.

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.

Pensions: Provision has been made in RFA 96 for the protection of Reservist pension rights in the event of call up. The MoD is permitted to pay the employers contributions to a civilian pension scheme.


Two structures have been set up within the Territorial Army in order to improve management of reserves:

  • Reserves Manning and Career Management Division

  • Reserves Training and Mobilisation Centre (RTMC)

The role of the first is to centralise the coordination of all personnel management for the TA, 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 reservists. The RTMC, which was inaugurated in April 1999, managed a first group of reservists in May 1999 for the British forces stationed in Bosnia and Kosovo.