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Army 2020

Volume 588: debated on Monday 24 November 2014

12. What progress he has made on meeting the objectives of the Army 2020 programme; and if he will make a statement. (906189)

The Army 2020 programme will deliver the flexible and adaptable force the nation needs to defeat the threats of the future, and it is on track. The Army is in the middle of the busiest period of change in the programme, which will see the majority of units completing their reorganisation next year. Despite this ambitious change, the Army remains fully deployable to support current operations, including those in west Africa.

The Government significantly revised down their reserve target, but have made no equivalent changes to the programme of redundancies. With all the redundancies now complete but thousands of reserves still to be recruited, is the Army currently under strength and has Britain been left with a dangerous capability gap?

Absolutely not. This is a five-year programme to restructure our forces, as they shift from focusing on the campaign in Afghanistan to being an Army that is sufficiently adaptable to be able to meet any threat the nation faces in future. For example, we currently have some 1,350 troops on exercise in Poland and more than 850 deployed to tackle Ebola in west Africa.

I congratulate the Secretary of State and the Department on what they have achieved towards this programme. Will he share with the House precisely how we are helping families who may want their loved ones to serve as reservists but have misgivings about what the implications will be?

I am happy to reassure my hon. Friend on that. It is very important that families understand the nature of service life, and there can be some misapprehension about the scale and length of reserve activity. If I may, I will ask the Under-Secretary of State for Defence, my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr Brazier), the Minister responsible for the reserves, to meet her to see what further reassurance he can offer.