MP again asks for additional costs of Reservists plan
During Defence Questions in the House of Commons today, John Baron MP asked the Secretary of State for Defence, Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, about the average age of soldiers in the Army Reserve. Answers to Written Parliamentary Questions [WPQs; please see ‘Notes to Editors] show that the average age of the Army Reserve infantry is 35. Earlier in the session, John had also asked about the increasing costs of the MoD’s Army Reserve reforms.
“The MoD’s own figures show the Trained Strength of the Army Reserve has actually fallen over the last 18 months. Given the Government has had to throw more money at these reforms, including added incentives to join up, will it now answer the question which it has so far ducked, and that is what are the extra costs of these plans, over and above the original estimates?”
John then asked,
“In addition to struggling to increase Army Reserve numbers, the age profile of the existing Reserves remains a concern. Given that answers to WPQs show there has been no improvement over the last year with the average age of the infantry being 35, and with senior NCOs and junior Officers being in their 40s, why isn’t the Government tackling this?”
The Defence Front Bench responded that costs were within the £1.8bn allocated, and that experience is worth a lot when it comes to age, and that fitness training remained a focus.
John said afterwards,
“The MoD might not “like it up’em”, but there is a danger the Army Reserve comes to resemble a ‘Dad’s Army’ of older soldiers. The Army reforms will see Reservists put under greater operational pressure than ever before. The need for cold steel remains – there can be no drop in standards.”
“This is yet another reason why the Government’s plans to replace 30,000 Regulars with 20,000 Reservists are flawed. Getting rid of seasoned Regulars before Reservist replacements were recruited has caused unacceptable capability gaps, and increased costs risk creating false economies.”