NEWS COMMENT: Military cuts put more responsibility on reservists

Army reserves
Army reserves
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Swingeing cuts have already hollowed out the three wings of the nation’s military.

Over the past decade, the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force have been forced to shrink in size, as political taskmasters seek to tighten the purse strings and rein in spending.

It’s left the nation’s military in a tricky position, having to streamline its defence and operate on a smaller scale than previously.

Now the Ministry of Defence has said, repeatedly, that it is still continuing operations overseas and Britain is perfectly capable of meeting all its operational demands.

Even though our numbers and overall ‘military might’ may have been slashed, we are still a respected fighting force.

But what the cuts have meant is that Britain has to be more savvy in how we use our regular soldiers, sailors and airmen.

So step in the reserve forces.

Increasingly they are playing a more critical role in our nation’s defence infrastructure, from bolstering operational forces (the Royal Navy has a solid record of deploying ships crewed with reservists and full-time sailors) to providing training overseas to other military forces.

One of the key roles of a reservist is the ability for them to take on tasks which could tie up the military’s full-time fighters – being a visible presence at community events, for instance, or responding to environmental disasters in the UK.

And in this future where reservists have more and more responsibility thrust upon them, it is important to remember these are people serving their country while holding a down a full-time civilian job and balancing their family life too.

To mark this surge in importance, the MoD has created two new reserve infantry battalions, which includes 4 Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment – that now has a company based in Cosham.

We welcome having new troops here. But what the MoD now needs to commit to keeping our existing regular numbers up and not letting the cuts deepen further.