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The Future of the UK's Reserve Forces

Mark Phillips
Occasional Papers, 20 April 2012
Military Sciences, UK, Military Personnel
As the UK moves towards an increasing emphasis on reserve forces, this report highlights a selection of international best practice

In October 2010, the prime minister announced that the government would assess whether the UK’s Reserve Forces are ‘properly structured for the type of conflict we envisage undertaking in future so that we make best use of the skills, experience and capabilities of our Reservists while at the same time moving towards a more efficient structure’.

The Future Reserves 2020 (FR20) study is intended to be an open-minded, fundamental review of the Reserve Forces’ role and structure. The baseline is provided by the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), and in particular the Defence Planning Assumptions (DPAs) and Future Force 2020 (FF20) structure it proposes beyond combat operations in Afghanistan; emerging work on the ‘Whole Force’ concept and, within it, the ‘Total Support Force’; and the need to sustain the volunteer ethos of reservist service. In addition, the prime minister specifically asked the study to look at international best practice and lessons.

This report is intended to contribute to the ongoing Future Reserves (FR20) work by independently identifying and exploring key areas that should be addressed, identifying examples of best practice and lessons, and applying these to the UK context. In so doing, it provides a constructive benchmark for the Ministry of Defence’s emerging findings, allowing the MoD to determine if any key issues have been missed or new avenues should be explored, and assist with the challenge of developing detailed implementation plans.

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