Page last updated at 02:29 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Territorial Army cuts: Your views

Soldiers of the Territorial Army's 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers on parade

Ministers have scaled back planned cuts to the Territorial Army and made concessions over their training following criticism.

The Ministry of Defence wanted to cut £20m from the TA budget and halt all training for six months except for those due to be sent to Afghanistan. It now says every unit will get one night's training a month while the TA budget will not be cut by as much.

Current and former members of the Territorial Army and the Armed Forces have sent in their reaction.

We shall stay strong and do our part to ensure others fighting are equipped when they are deployed. It's hard and some members have to ensure they can cover their mortgages by taking on extra shifts at work. But we will stick through it and remain strong. We do it for each other not for the money. But it will be a testing six months. Lets hope they use the recovered money wisely, to ensure troops have the kit they need.
Mitch, Sussex, UK

I am a serving member of the TA and have been for 17 years. When I joined, the TA was a bit of a dads army, designed for home defence. However over the years I have seen our role change dramatically. I served in Iraq in 2004 but in my TA peer group many have completed two to three postings including Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia and Afghanistan. While training two weeks ago to defend against the IED threat in Afghanistan, we heard the news that we were to cease further training. It was very much a slap in the face for us and morale in my unit has plummeted. The slight u-turn is pointless as we will achieve nothing in two hours per month. Recently, every three months we have been asked who would like to volunteer as Reserve Service for Afghanistan. When the 'trawl' comes again around December I am certain that most Territorials will turn their backs. We are proud of our service but are being treated appallingly.
Peter, Glenrothes, Fife, UK

The amount likely to be saved by stopping all training for reservists, or even by the pointless face-saving exercise of cutting training to one day a month, is a drop in the ocean compared with the vast and totally unjustified expense of keeping the army of bureaucrats who continue to fill their pockets (and pension schemes) in the MOD. If the Ministry really wanted to save money it would cut these wasteful hordes in numbers... by about 75%. Believe it or not there would no significant impact on output.
Anonymous - Commander Royal Naval Reserve (Retired), Berkshire, UK

As a former TA member I can say that six weekends (12 days) of phase one basic training and two weeks training for TA infantry who now slot into the front lines in Helmand is a joke, when to be a professional soldier you do up to 14 weeks. Many would like us to do like the Americans - and all reservists have to go through regular army training and then have a legally binding monthly training commitment. Considering our operational tempo the TA should be doing more training for the TA, not less. Training them just before they are deployed is an impractical policy move that looks good to some dimwit on paper.
Jonathan Kougl, Bangkok, Thailand

I think this is a token gesture and an insult. More than eighteen thousand TA soldiers served on operations since 2001 and 15 were killed. Furthermore the government can give £12 billion to support fair trade but cannot support their own TA.
D, East Midlands, UK

I am a former TA soldier and the training I received back in 1986 when I started was professional, I was trained by full-time professional soldiers. The amount of cuts that the army experiences now, closure of top military training bases and reduction in personnel is disgraceful. Training and equipment, should be made ready available when required. Support our armed forces.
Paul, Northern Ireland

Every TA unit has regular army staff - a Commanding Officer, Training Major, Adjutant, Permanent Sergeant Instructors and admin staff. All are still in post at a standing cost to command and administer an organisation that has been told to disappear for 6 months and may not re-appear in April 2010. The real standing costs of the TA have not been addressed.
Stewart, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, UK

Our barracks are staying open, but we don't get paid when we attend training on a Wednesday. I am in the recruitment training stage, we do still get paid our weekends away, but trained soldiers have been banned from any training weekends until April. They also do not get paid for attending Wednesday training nights. We have been asked to keep coming although we won't get paid, and 99.9% of us will. The pay is so low anyway it does not make a huge difference, and we do it more to serve than to make money. But it is awful for morale as you can imagine. I am light infantry and we have had it quite easy. Signals and REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) based at our barracks are actually closing their doors for six months and doing nothing whatsoever.
Anonymous, Brighton, UK

This is a very slight improvement, but it doesn't go far enough. The TA was celebrated for reaching its 100th birthday last year, and now the government seems intent on closing it down completely. Have they already forgotten the TA infantry soldiers patrolling Heathrow airport after 9/11, because there weren't enough regular infantry soldiers to go round? Are they unaware that all communications will be provided by the 2 (National Communications) Signal Brigade - primarily TA soldiers - if and when an incident happens on the mainland because the majority of the regular Royal Signals are on deployment? Don't they realise that up to 30% of soldiers on operations are TA soldiers?
My husband is also a Territorial soldier and he is currently one month into a six month deployment in Afghanistan. If he, and the mainly territorial soldiers came home, there would be a massive gap in his unit - it would no longer be able to function and more regular soldiers would have to be missing out on valuable time with their families, and also on their rest time before being deployed yet again. The government needs to re-think these cuts completely, and consider where else they could recoup this money without putting the future of the British Army in jeopardy.
Sarah, Sheffield, UK

When I served in the 1970s our role was to be ready to go to war and to be seen to be ready. Looking back I would say we were mainly a deterrent. Today a combination of cutbacks to regular forces and an increase in overseas commitments means the regular forces are having to be supplemented by the reserves on active service. This is no time to tell the reserves that they are not really needed.
T, Watford, UK

I served as an officer in the TA for many years in the 80s and 90s. What many politicians and the civilian population may not appreciate is that people are in the TA because they want to be. They can leave at any time. While serving they do so because they are motivated, and vice-versa, if not motivated they leave. This is a different kind of motivation from the regular Army, where soldiers sign up for fixed terms based on initial expectations and may lose their motivation but still be required to serve. While in general the regular army is better trained than the TA, it lacks that implicit individual motivation that the TA enjoys. This is why officers in the regular army spend an awful lot of time trying to keep their troops motivated, while officers in the TA spend a lot of their time on military training for their troops and trying to find the scarce resources to support this.
David, Windsor, Berkshire, UK

I served in the British Army for 17 years. It was a posting to a TA unit that caused me to leave the Forces because within 6 months I had formed the opinion that the TA was the biggest waste of resources in the defence budget. They seemed to have the best of everything provided, from their Regular Army instructors to equipment and facilities, but the ethos was on socialising, drinking and pretending to be the big acts that they were just not trained or training to be. How can part-timers on 37 days a year be expected to come close to the required standards? When one of the detachments did go off to Bosnia to support the regulars, they came from such well paid jobs that, for their ranks and their roles, twice their number of regular soldiers could have been sent instead, because the British Army had to pay them their normal salaries! The money spend on the TA is much better spent on full-time soldiers, with certain exceptions e.g. the nurses, doctors and other professionals who volunteer to serve their country using their civilian skills.
Nick Preston, Leeds, UK

The Government is still planning to waste billions on the ID card and database scheme, the ISA and other 'guilty before conviction' schemes, but is happy to save £20 million pounds by cutting the budget of the most cost effective part of our armed forces. The TA was reckoned to be 25% of the strength of the army for 2% of the budget. It has been so reduced that this clearly is no longer the case and this reduction in training will make the TA pointless to join - I used to be in the TA but would not join now. This seems like an attempt to make the TA so small it can be got rid of.
Ro, Hereford, UK

It's a start. All of us in the TA understand the financial situation that the country is faced with, we are all equal victims of the government's fiscal incompetence. The reality is that one training night a month isn't going to keep many soldiers focussed. The true 'Part Time Professionals' attend three out of four drill nights a month in order to maintain relevant skill levels. 'Maintain' is the critical word here - many of us, myself included, have fought hard to claw ourselves up to a level by which the Regular Army will accept us and arguably treat us as equals. The cut in training, I fear, undoes this. Starting again for many of us is an unpalatable option, certainly not one I'm personally prepared to take. The TA was under-funded before these cuts in the midst of the war on terror. Why kick us in the teeth again? Fighting with one hand tied behind our backs... yet again.
Dan, Nottingham, UK

So much for one Army - regular and TA. Again, Labour show how little they understand the military and how quick they are to destroy it.
Tony Reev, UK

This is an even bigger joke than cutting the training altogether. It is a cheap political stunt that the government thinks will appease the general public's backlash over this sorry state of affairs as the majority of the public don't understand the role of a modern TA soldier. If the government is serious on reducing the defence budget then maybe they should look at the jollies enjoyed by some in the Forces.
Andy Pritchard, Gibraltar

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