My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Over the course of January and February this year, the Ministry of Defence conducted an analysis of the policy baseline establishing the capabilities required of the Reserve Forces. It concluded that while, in broad terms, our existing policy on the Reserve Forces remains sound, there were some areas that would benefit from further development.
Taking all of these factors into account, I have decided to set up a review to examine how our Reserve Forces should be most effectively configured, structured, equipped, located and trained for defence's current and future needs. The review will commence on 1 April 2008.
The Reserve Forces provide the ability to deliver the capabilities required for relatively infrequent operations on the basis that this is the most cost-effective way of delivering the required effect, within the associated lower readiness timelines. For the Territorial Army this means that they are sized for large-scale operations and for the Royal Naval Reserve, the Royal Marines Reserve and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force for medium and small-scale operations.
The review will take account of the way that Reserve Forces have been employed on current operations as well as their potential use in other roles related to projected requirements. It will consider the scope for greater integration into the regular forces structure. It will also investigate how the Reserves can support effectively stabilisation and reconstruction tasks. There is widespread support among the services for this review. 2008 marks the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Territorial Army, which will be celebrated under the banner of “TA100”. This is an appropriate time for us to consider how to ensure that the way the Reserves contribute to the defence of the nation is as relevant for the 21st century as it was in the 20th century.
I should like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Reserves for the enormous contribution they make to our defence capability. Their commitment and sacrifice are key to our continued success. With around 17,000 reservists having deployed on operations since January 2003, they have played an invaluable role on current operations.
The review will be conducted transparently and inclusively, and will involve consultation with a wide variety of interested parties. The review is not resource driven. In order to ensure coherence, some of the initiatives we announced in March 2006 to rebalance and restructure the Territorial Army, where practicable, will be deferred until the review is complete.
I will make a further announcement on the conclusions and recommendations of the review in due course.