Paramilitary: Teasing And Tormenting The Territorials


January 13, 2012:  Britain is reducing the size of its army to 82,000, the lowest it has been in over 200 years. It was hoped, by the politicians doing the cutting, that the Territorial Army, similar to the U.S. National Guard and Reserves, could be reorganized and retrained in order to make them able to quickly join the regulars for overseas assignments. Unfortunately, this may not make much of a difference unless the Army can do something about a severe manpower shortage in the reserves. The army is also unsure if the part-time Territorial soldiers can be made ready for rapid deployment to overseas hot spots.

Most of the problems Britain's ground forces suffer from are related to years of defense budget slashes and poor pay, which has resulted in a lack of spare parts, equipment, and disgruntled and poorly paid personnel. Currently the Territorial Army numbers around 29,000, which is 7,000 short of what it is supposed to be. But the issue of manpower has always been Britain's major problem, regardless of whether the military was well-funded or not. During World War II, the constant and unceasing demands for manpower in the European Theatre caused growing personnel shortages in the army. In the old days, this wasn't so much of a problem since Britain could call upon hundreds of thousands of Empire troops to make up for their own shortage of bodies to fill the ranks. The majority of these soldiers came from South Africa, India, and the ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand). Unfortunately, this is no longer possible since the Indians are no longer associated with the Commonwealth. As for the Australians and New Zealanders, they are unlikely to mobilize thousands of troops unless there is a direct threat to Britain.

Currently, the active army consists of about 82,000 officers, NCOs, and enlisted men. The 29,000 Territorial Army troops have several different degrees of obligation. The Regular Reserve is composed of two different classes (A and D). The A class reservists are required to answer compulsory calls for training and deployment whereas Class D troops report for service on a purely voluntary basis. Furthermore, Territorial Units are broken up into Regional and National formations. The Regional formations are composed of soldiers recruited locally from specific areas in Britain. Their commitment is a minimum of 27 days training a year. For National formations, who typically fulfill specialized roles such as logistics and medical services, the commitment is even less at 19 days per year.

Despite the limbo in which the Territorials find themselves regarding their personnel shortages, the government is smart enough to realize they're going to need the reserves. Currently, the Territorial Forces have no fixed timetable for training their units up to full combat-ready standards. This has caused some in the regular army to question whether, in their current state, the Territorials could provide any added value to the offensives in Afghanistan.

Currently, the reserves' time to get in shape and trained for combat operations is capped at six months. This may not be enough time to conduct basic training and teach advanced skills before shipping the troops to a combat zone. The plan also calls for more training alongside regular army units, to learn heavy weapons skills. This usually results in the reduction of training times in order to get more soldiers into combat faster. Britain has made it clear that during future overseas crises, the Territorials are going to be in combat soon and they want them trained and ready to do their jobs as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, all the training and upgrading may be for nothing if they can't scrape up the recruits they need and implement training programs that will prepare the reservists for combat quickly enough.




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