Give UK Reserves a Proper Job-Blue Berets & Putin

christopher_lee180-11

Christopher Lee

6 June 2016, London

The Polish government is recruiting a 35,000 paramilitary force because of tensions with Russia.  The force will be a hybrid military operation largely with civilians ready to deploy if Russia does what it did to the Ukraine.

By this time July, Polish plans will be finalised and announced at the Warsaw summit of heads of NATO governments and a further reinforced Alliance battalion attached to what will be a rotation brigade.

That is the very military position and should knock on the head any half-baked ideas for a European army – an unsustainable concept that would be nothing more than NATO less Canada and the US.

The people who should quickly learn from the Polish idea are the British.

Undoubtedly the British have probably the best, certainly one of the most reliable military systems in Europe. There are two weaknesses: manpower and a failure to build a volunteer reserve – the old Royal Navy Reserve (RNR), Territorial Army (TA) and Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR).

The purpose of the new style Polish militia is something needed by the British and a concept that would work.  The concept would be simple:

Any military set-up needs above everything else, an identifiable purpose.  The modern post-Afghanistan war volunteer reserve lacks vision and purpose. Recruiting is no where near the figures that the generals said would be there to reinforce the regular forces, especially the army. Reason? The generals got it wrong living as they do in an utterly outdated belief that if they blow the bugle then well-motivated young people will step forward to the colours.

Two reasons for low numbers: fuller civilian employment and greater employer demands plus the army in particular while not back to the days of driving trucks up and down the M11 as regular and only training has no single and believable purpose.

What would simply work is this: the  reserves need to identify an enemy and have an attractive and not an uncertain role.  Modern young men and women are used to priorities rather than general ideas.

The reserves should be formed in two groups: vocational (medical, engineering etc) and militia.  The militia should be tasked to learn everything there is to know about the Russian operation in Ukraine (as an example), identify and learn off by heart the structure of the Russia militia and regular combinations with weapons systems used, recruiting units, tactics and terms of reference.  In other words go live to identify and get in the mind, the strength and weakness of a potential enemy. The British reserves would become walking encyclopaedias of the potential aggressor. Imagine the senses of achievement and purpose that would bring people in civilian jobs.

There is another but not a lesser role: train the whole of the British army volunteer reserve as UN peacekeepers. Have them identify the job, pre-plan for every country a UN operation is or is likely to occur.  British troops are being sent to South Sudan as UN peacekeepers. No reason why trained reservists should not go.

Neither of the above is to lift the load of the regular forces, although it would have a limited spin-off in that direction. These are major jobs that would give great purpose to the reserves and would have recruits in line down the street.

The main achievement would purpose and identity – something missing in civilian and parts of the military in Britain today where the theme is disestablishment and devolution instead of understood identity of purpose.

 

 

 

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