Main Conclusions of the Report

Our Reserve Forces are in decline

By our national historic standards and by comparison with other nations our Reserves form too small a part of our overall national military capability. The Proposition we currently offer our Reservists has declined; the opportunities for individual and collective training have reduced; the prospects for promotion and command opportunity are less. 

The offer that we make is ceasing to attract a sustainable Reserve and the demands of individual augmentation for operations have accelerated the institutional decline of our Reserve Forces.

We have failed to modernise Reservist roles

The purpose for which we hold Reserves and the roles to which we attribute them have not been updated to match the demands of the new security environment. For example, the Territorial Army is still structured for large scale intervention operations. 

We have not fully re-assessed the utility of Reserves in the context of Homeland Security, UK Resilience, wider specialist capabilities such as stabilisation and cyber, and as a formal mechanism for regeneration.

We are not exploiting the potential of our Reserves

We are not fully harnessing the volunteer ethos of society or exploiting the best talent the country has to offer. We are denying the opportunity to adopt a far more cost-effective manpower balance across the Armed Forces. 

And, by failing to exploit the Reserves more fully, we are contributing to an erosion of the links between our Armed Forces and wider society.

We are not using the Reserves efficiently

We are not using our Reserves in the most cost-effective manner. The Reserve estate needs rationalisation, the training overheads need optimisation and Reserve units need better mechanisms to partner with the Regular component. 

The force generation of the Reserve component needs to be done more efficiently, with a greater guarantee of quality and a surer knowledge of availability.

Notwithstanding these sobering conclusions, the Commission fully recognises the remarkable contribution that our Reserve Forces continue to make to operations. Indeed, the outstanding acts of individual and collective service, particularly on recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, show that, despite the true and worrying condition of our Reserve Forces, their potential remains invaluable.