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Strategic Defence and Security Review: UK Resilience

Volume 612: debated on Wednesday 29 June 2016

The strategic defence and security review (SDSR) 2015 set out the need to strengthen the armed forces contribution to UK resilience. To maximise the size of the force available to deliver this task, the Chief of the General Staff has today announced that the Army will in future plan to use regular and reserve phase 1 trained personnel in response to crises within the UK.

This change will increase the utility and the size of force available in the event of a national emergency. It will result in Army personnel contributing more, and earlier in their careers, and therefore feeling more motivated and more valued. For the Regular Army, this will mean the potential deployment of sub-units from training establishments led by their instructors; for reserves it will mean that they are able to participate in training and UK deployments with their units at an earlier stage than previously. To prepare for this, all Regular and reserve Army personnel will now complete the military annual training tests, which qualify them to assist in UK resilience tasks, during phase 1 training.

Planning routinely to use Army phase 1 trained personnel to provide additional support to UK resilience tasks such as flood response, or to backfill for others deployed on such tasks including responding to terrorist attacks, will increase the pool of trained and disciplined manpower available by around 3,000 to 5,000 regulars and 1,800 reserves.

To reflect this, the term “trained strength” will now include all armed forces personnel trained in the core function of their service. The Army will recognise the size of its additional available force by including personnel who have completed phase 1 training within the trained strength. This, however, will not change the manifesto commitment, confirmed in the SDSR, to a Regular Army of 82,000. This will result in the addition of around 1,800 reservists to the overall trained Army Reserve: we will now also increase the target for trained Army reserves to 32,000 by 2025.

This change does not affect the progress made in developing reserves phase 2 training. Each of the phase 2 training establishments will continue to deliver reserve focused phase 2 (and phase 3) training.

Trained strength numbers for the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force remain unaffected, reflecting the requirement for their personnel to complete phase 2 to be able to fulfil the core function of their respective services. This would not preclude Royal Navy or Royal Air Force phase 1 trained personnel contributing in the support of a UK resilience task in extreme circumstances.

A public consultation will be launched in due course on the inclusion of the revised trained strength figures within the monthly service personnel statistics publication. The revised Future Reserves 2020 strength growth profiles for the Army Reserve will be published following this consultation.