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The UK’s Reserve Forces are changing. Found to be neglected, under-exploited and in decline by an Independent Commission, the Armed Forces are being restructured to make the Reserves an integral element of ‘Future Force 2020’. Reservists will be mobilised and deployed on a far wider range of operations than now and will be more closely aligned with Regulars, particularly in the Army. A major recruitment drive is underway to reach a trained Reserve strength of 35,000 by 2018.

The Ministry of Defence laid out its plans in a White Paper in July 2013 entitled Reserves in the Future Force 2020: Valuable and Valued promising a new relationship with Reservists, Reservists’ families, employers and society. The changes are significant and concerns about the plans have focused on whether the MOD can achieve its recruitment targets; the impact on employers; and whether the Army in particular will be able to fulfil all of its military tasks with a reduced Regular force and greater reliance on Reservists. The Army will be most affected by the changes out of the three Services.

Some of the recommendations require legislation and the Defence Reform Bill currently before Parliament will:

• Formally change the name of the Territorial Army to the Army Reserves

• Expand the range of tasks Reservists can be called out for

• Enable the Secretary of State to make additional payments to employers when Reservists are mobilised

• Provide greater employment protection for Reservists

More information on the Defence Reform Bill can be found in Library Research Paper Defence Reform Bill, RP13/45, 11 July 2013 and Defence Reform Bill: Public Bill Committee Stage, SN06732, 24 September 2013. This note focuses on the detail of the proposed changes to the UK’s Reserve Forces and reaction to them.

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