Up to 2,000 Territorial Army jobs will be cut as part of a radical overhaul of the UK’s armed forces.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Defence announced the findings of its review of reservist soldiers, and said there were positions that were no longer needed due to improvements in modern communications systems.
Armed forces minister Bob Ainsworth also told Parliament that reservists would be relieved of “burdensome training that they don’t really need to do” to speed up battle-readiness.
“The roles and demands faced by our reservists have changed considerably over the years, and their structures, training and organisation need to be updated to reflect this,” he said. “Reservist training will be refocused with a greater emphasis on preparation to support current operations, and sufficient training days allocated to ensure annual military competency standards can be achieved by all.”
An MoD spokesman refused to specify the timescale proposed for the restructuring of reservist jobs. However, the Territorial Army is looking to recruit more numbers in other areas, he said.
“We’ve been operating at a shortfall for a while and while it’s not enough to cause a problem with current commitments, we are hoping to increase numbers,” he said. “Hopefully we can do that by transferring some of the 2,000 reservists whose roles are no longer needed.”
But Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, said the review was short on detail.
“Changes to the shape of our armed forces should be made within the context of a strategic defence review – one which is hugely overdue – not in this piecemeal fashion,” he said.
Currently more than 2,000 reservists are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, around 8% of the total UK forces deployed. More than 18,000 of Britain’s 33,000 active reservists have been deployed in those countries since 2003.