PORTSMOUTH is ‘leading the way’ in its recruitment of reservists for the armed forces – and is a shining example to others.
That was the key message from reservists minister Julian Brazier during a visit to the city’s naval base yesterday.
It really is great that Portsmouth is setting an example. Naval reservist units have been hitting their targets throughout the country and it’s great to see HMS King Alfred doing really well.Reservists minister Julian Brazier
It comes after HMS King Alfred, a Royal Naval Reserve unit on Whale Island, revealed it has hit its latest recruitment targets.
And Mr Brazier dismissed critics who say the push to recruit more reservists is merely a bid to trim back on costs and get rid of full-time service personnel.
Speaking to The News, Mr Brazier said: ‘It really is great that Portsmouth is setting an example. Naval reservist units have been hitting their targets throughout the country and it’s great to see HMS King Alfred doing really well.
‘It’s fantastic there is a strong group of reservists here.
‘I must visit King Alfred soon but I hear a lot about it. Portsmouth is leading the way.’
Mr Brazier highlighted the importance of having a strong network of reservists – who normally have careers outside of the military – and said there was a need to ‘rebalance’ the mix of armed force members.
‘We are building the number of reservists back up to a level where they are still only making up 25 per cent of the armed forces, which is a smaller percentage compared with other generations,’ he said.
‘In 1914 when we went to war, the number in the regimental army was about 150,000 and the territorial forces had 250,000.’
He added: ‘It’s a very uncertain world. We don’t know what’s around the corner but we are almost spoilt for choice in terms of things that can go wrong – there is Putin on one side and Isil on the other. We cannot afford everything we would like to do in defence – but the way we can provide forces that activity and excellence is by having a large reserve contingency.’
As part of Mr Brazier’s visit, BAE Systems signed a revised Armed Forces Corporate Covenant on board HMS Iron Duke.
The agreement will see the company offer additional support to the families of reservists through and beyond their duties.
Nigel Whitehead, group managing director at BAE Systems said it had revised its HR policy to allow employees to join up.
‘We can’t tell people to become reservists, but as an employer we can create an environment to encourage people to do that,’ he said.
‘Excellent calibre’ students being recruited by city unit
COMMUNITY support towards the armed forces’ reservists has ‘never been stronger’ says the man in charge of Portsmouth’s growing reserves unit.
Commander Anthony Stickland, commanding officer of HMS King Alfred, said the facility is going from strength to strength.
‘At HMS King Alfred we’re delighted the energy we’ve put into our regional outreach and recruiting campaign is already yielding very positive results,’ he said.
‘We’ve seen significant growth of our own Portsmouth-based Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) unit, meeting our expansion targets as we move forward to build the force structure of the Future Reserves 2020 programme.
‘There has never been a better time to consider a part-time career in the RNR to support the work of the Royal Navy.
‘In the last year we’ve seen changes in legislation to benefit reservists and the increasing financial and social rewards of paid volunteer service.
‘Support from reservist employers and the local community has never been stronger, evident in the uptake of the regional Armed Forces Covenant agreements and improved employer engagement seen nationally.
‘As a result here at HMS King Alfred we are increasingly attracting professionals and students of excellent calibre from across the region, who we can train to become specialists in their chosen branch of the RNR.
‘We continue to deliver trained reservists to support military operations around the world and we will always welcome those who are looking for something more than an office-based life, to travel more and enjoy all the training, sporting and social benefits of life as part of a wider naval service.’
Meanwhile, reservists minister Julian Brazier had the opportunity to chat to reservists during his visit in Portsmouth.
Nikk Lovelock-Jeffels is a BAE Systems employee and a captain in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
He spent 11 months on deployment in Afghanistan and was also responsible for overseeing security procedures at the London 2012 Olympics.
Lieutenant Commander Karen Kristiansen RNR is in charge of eight cadet units across the south coast.
She said many go on to join the armed forces and others seek apprenticeships with companies such as BAE.
Speaking of the covenant signed by BAE, Mr Brazier said: ‘By providing further support for reservists, BAE Systems clearly recognises the skills and leadership qualities that they can bring to the work force, and I hope even more companies across the UK will be encouraged to get behind the covenant and support the armed forces.’