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Reservists

Old 7th Feb 2015, 11:50
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Reservists

I'm intrigued by the generally negative attitude to reservists demonstrated on these pages. In discussions on spending cuts, the mere intent of replacing some regulars with reservists is put forward as evidence that the govt has "lost it".

Does it have to be so? Many of "the few" were reservists and of those who Fought and died over Berlin and the Ruhr, not many were regulars at the outbreak. Going further back, the ancient heroes of Marathon were mostly "weekend warriors" in today's language.
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Old 7th Feb 2015, 13:01
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Many of the few may have been reservists but they were current and very competent. Reservists today have to do a minimum of 19 days a year. How current and competent are they?

In the fleet air arm aircrew reservists have to be ex aircrew already and many are current civvy aircrew and bring much to the party. As do many others.

The issue is the weekend warriors who think this is all a jolly good game, do the minimum time to qualify for the money and cost exactly the same if not more as a regular to train to the same standard and thus negate their effect. They then get bored/scared and walk away back to their comfortable jobs without so much as a look back.
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Old 7th Feb 2015, 13:58
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What kind of Reservist is it you are talking about?
  • FTRS (HC)
  • FTRS (LC)
  • FTRS (FC)
  • PTVR
  • ADC
  • VeRR
  • Sponsored Reservist

All have different pros and cons but unless you are specific we could all be talking about different things entirely. Here's my take:

FTRS (HC and LC) - Don't count against the 31,500 cap, are between 9% and 14% cheaper because of the reduced X factor, don't vanish from their productive posts for 6 months on ops so are great for continuity. Tend to arrive fully trained because they recruit from regulars. Can be hard to fill some posts in the South of England, especially at lower ranks, because of the cost of housing.

PTVR - A great idea if you can identify a niche speciality that you need to fill. Need some bowser drivers for an OOA? Train PTVR for that specific role and send them out. If you try and give them the full range of skills of an entire TG it's doomed to fail - is it something like 33 years to train a Gen Tech E from the start if you only have them for 19 days a year.

I've not have enough experience of the other kinds to comment.

One thing I really find distasteful is the ability to apply for a post that is one grade above your substantive rank without the need to go through a promotion board. If you play the system you could, for instance leave the service as a Flt Lt with a yes for 1-up, apply for a Sqn Ldr FTRS post then, 2 years later having done very little to set the world on fire with your B/Yes OJAR, find a job that nobody wants and apply for a Wg Cdr post. I know of at least one person who was a crap Flt Lt and did this exact process, makes you wonder why some people have a bad impression of FTRS.
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Old 7th Feb 2015, 14:04
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There are quite a few Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS) personnel in and amongst the Regular cadre. You'd have to look hard to tell as they don't wear any distinguishing insignia. Never heard anything too negative said as they are on rolling engagement contracts that should mean if they don't 'perform' then they get shown the door to civvy-street in short order!

There is sometimes some carping about the fact that some don't deploy and others only deploy up to a 21 days at a time, depending on commitment type. Those on full commitment serve time away the same as a Regular. Non deployable FTRS get 14.5% less pay and those on the 21 day scheme get 7% less pay than Regulars. However, to give you an example, last Christmas and New Year's Eve I was in work in the UK and well over 70% of us were FTRS, thus allowing the deployable Regulars to spend time with their families - this also goes the same for other stn duties over BHs and holidays.

I also did some sandbagging in Windsor during the floods this time last year with 7 RIFLES - they are Reservists and once again it stopped calling out the deployable Regulars.

In short, a mix of Regulars and Reserves makes a lot of sense to me. Especially when it comes to some of the UK-based support to emergencies functions.

LJ
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Old 7th Feb 2015, 15:42
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Originally Posted by Stuff View Post
, find a job that nobody wants and apply for a Wg Cdr post. I know of at least one person who was a crap Flt Lt and did this exact process, makes you wonder why some people have a bad impression of FTRS.
And what is wrong with that?

"Find a post no one wants"

This has been a regular route to promotion ever since.

I know one Sgt pilot made sqn cdr by always asking for the least popular job in the next highest rank.

In your instance, flt lt to wg cdr, provided he met the job spec he isn't blocking anyone else.
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Old 7th Feb 2015, 16:06
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The issue is the weekend warriors who think this is all a jolly good game,
I know of quite a few Reservists who do the job as well as any Regular, and even relied heavily on them in my last unit because they weren't part of the head count and were cheaper.

However, there is always a nagging doubt that there are many many more who don't take things as seriously and do see it as a jolly good game. I know people swing the lead in the Regulars too, but you just have to look at the likes of RAF News and Soldier magazine to see Reservists going all over the world on AT, doing interesting exercises and generally having access to a far greater amount of carrot than the Regulars and a lot less stick.

I realise that to get people to give up their spare time you have to make it attractive, but to many Regulars who are constantly on the receiving end of stick and not much carrot, it smarts a little. And I suspect, from talking to numerous people, it is that discrepancy that is likely to be contributing towards at least some of the negative feelings towards the a Reserves.

The other key point that people would do well to remember is that the military is renowned for it's professionalism and can do attitude. Many individuals will have gone through years of tough training and accumulated significant experience. To be suddenly told by the politicians and senior officers, who have no understanding of what if actually takes to do your role to the standards expected operationally, that it is now going to be filled by the Reserves can't lead to anything but feelings of being undermined in a professional sense if the job is now capable of being done by "part-timers" with a fraction of the training and experience.
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Old 7th Feb 2015, 16:35
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The whole Reservist concept was intended to achieve nothing more than to save money by papering over the manning cracks.

As far as aircrew are concerned, when the current bunch of reservists reach their sell-by dates, who will replace them given that the number of regulars is so pitifully small these days - as is the number of aircraft, aerodromes, QFIs etc etc......

Or maybe those PA pilots offered employment until 60 are supposed to cover the shortfall?

There do seem to be a lot of recruiting adverts on TV these days - how's the recruitment of reservists going? Reaching the target, is it?

Last edited by BEagle; 7th Feb 2015 at 17:24.
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Old 7th Feb 2015, 16:56
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BEagle May remember one of the early reservist pilots on the 10. He was not available for route planning but could find time to fly the route.
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Old 7th Feb 2015, 17:29
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As a Canadian Reservist for 36 years I found most Regular guys/gals treated me just fine when I demonstrated I could pull my weight. The ones who gave me grief were usually plugs who did not get a lot of respect from their peers.

For the occasional Reg Force Puke that insisted on being a real ars*hole twards Reservists, my favorite line was "Your job is my relaxation from the trials of making it in the real world !"

The Bottom line from my POV has always been simple: The Reserve Force is as good as the Regular Force wants it to be.
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Old 8th Feb 2015, 08:20
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The reservists I worked with were a damn keen lot for the most part, albeit there were a few who made minimum commitment for the bonus qualification - but compare that the the regulars who are hanging around because of Boarding School Allowance etc, or do the minimum to avoid a bollocking, and I always thought the reservists had much better attitudes. They also had a whole cross section of civilian trades, life skills and were broadly less one-dimentional that regulars, proving to be quite resourceful when deployed...but by luck more than design or command planning.

What they do often lack is military experience, either in trade or fighting skills, as by definition they simply don't have the days available to train and exercise as much, so as was seen in 2003 they were handy bodies to guard stuff in Kuwait, but not much more. They're there to be led as opposed to being an instant 'just add war' ready-to-go force. Maybe as intended, but that doesn't look good on posters.

The reservsts that were more useful elsewhere had normally managed to commit to more days, and in one particular case I know of a tradesman who became very useful to his home base, augmenting their stretched manpower. But only because he was previously unemployed and had been on unit a while: aka...full time. QED.

It's a political money saver, not a sensible defence strategy. My 2c.
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Old 8th Feb 2015, 09:37
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As an ex-Harrier and ex-Tornado GR mate I would have given my eye-teeth to have been on some sort of flying reserve after I left the service. A colleague who was on 3F with me back in the 70s and who did SHAR time with the RN used to pop off from his 747 to go to Yeovilton for SHAR flying for a few weeks every year. Talk about jealous! Later on some younger colleagues I came across were involved in flying the Tornado F3 and Hawk as reservists. I can't help but feel that I missed out.
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Old 8th Feb 2015, 11:22
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I seem to remember an ex-Concorde captain who as a reservist QFI on a UAS caused the C.O. apoplexy when he quoted Civil Service rules which meant no weekends and no evenings. His main reason for joining seemed to be free hangarage for his Hawker Fury.
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Old 8th Feb 2015, 12:49
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26er, that is totally untrue. He certainly worked at weekends with the rest of us. As well as attending evening training nights in Town.

As an ex-RAF fighter pilot of the 1950s, he put in a considerable amount of effort. Yes, he did point out the terms of his service to that particular Wg Cdr and objected quite reasonably at attempts to overwork him on what was a fairly non-essential task.

The Fury lived for most of its time at Wroughton; however, he was later allowed to keep it in a spare corner of a hangar at Benson....until that Wg Cdr found a convenient way of pricing him off the station.

As for late flying, we had to shut down by 17:00 due to groundcrew overtime claims*. So there wasn't any question of him not working as late as the rest of us - and he was always there first thing in the morning

*Occasionally we would notice a 'slow turn round' after about 15:30, which was a civilian ground crew attempt to foil the last wave as they knew we used 1:00 for most sorties and that we daren't go past 17:00. One day my aircraft was finally ready at 16:45, so I took off, flew a couple of circuits, landed and taxyed in, then shut down at 16:59:55. "Two can play at that game", I told the 'shop steward' as I walked past him!
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Old 8th Feb 2015, 18:32
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Most other NATO countries have a far better reserve to regular ratio than the UK has. They make it work. It is a bit of an adjustment in mindset and approach but it could be done.
Then again, you've seen how change ruffles the feathers on here, never mind in the real world
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Old 8th Feb 2015, 20:47
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BEagle


I must apologise for repeating a story which you have corrected. However there are often situations regarding reservists who are working to different terms from regulars who occasionally cannot cope with inflexibility. Also, like the gentleman we refer to, are unwilling to kow tow to those who regard themselves as superior.


The other problem, not strictly a reservists one, is caused by civilians refusing to be flexible but probably for good reasons. After all, if the military require this flexibility it should be part of the contract and paid for. I remember years ago a crew who by arrangement pitched up at the MU at St Athan on a Friday afternoon to collect an aircraft only to be stuck there for the weekend. Very unhappy bunnies for although the airfield was open the civilian engineers downed tools, got onto the contracted busses and headed off to the valleys for the weekend. And I'm sure this wasn't the only time this occurred there.
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Old 8th Feb 2015, 20:55
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I've met good and bad, the good mainly being the 'proper' reservists i. e from civvy street who make up in enthusiasm what they sometimes lack in knowledge. The 'not so good' being some FTRS who couldn't make or didn't want to make the adjustment to civvy street.

What does need weeding out are the weekend warriors who have absolutely no intention of doing anything remotely connected with Ops of which I suspect the Army has more of a problem. My brother ( Regular Army REME) did a tour with a TA RLC unit in which he reckoned about two thirds were only in it for the money or the fun bits. He'd spend a week prepping for a weekends trade training to have 4 people turn up, if it was a day on the range however 30 would turn up. Likewise I've got two nephews who are both in the TA/Army Reserve, one for 15 yrs, the other for 12. Neither of them has ever done anything ops-wise. Hardly a good return on the investment!

My wife worked with a girl who was RAuxAF for about 6 years, supposedly as a supplier although she never went near a supply sqn. All she seemed to do was 'training' although quite what trainjng it was was never really made clear- she wasn't even able to select the correct fire extinguisher on the company training session. Something a regular recruit would be taught in the first few weeks at Halton. Again, hardly a good return on the money spent.

I guess with the many different types of reservist there's no easy answer- much like the regulars; some good, some bad.
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Old 8th Feb 2015, 21:05
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26, basic tenet for basic labour - pay for work done.

Once picked up an aircraft from Aberdeen. The civil instrument fitter for the compass swing was missing. A competent worker jumped in. The shop steward practically reamed him out for doing someone else's work and work for which he wasn't paid.

Had similar issues with civil servants and coffee and lunch breaks; contract mandates the working hours.

Flexibility is an attitude of mind and some people have difficulty adjusting.
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Old 8th Feb 2015, 21:13
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Some time ago, the RAF Puma force had reservist Pilots and Crewmen (I thing they were officially called auxillary at the time).

They were a real asset to the Sqn when Kosovo was running. They used to do 6 week detachments which gave the regular Sqn members a break from ops and also get on with prep for other tasks and exercises. It almost worked out that there was a reservist out there at any one time. Totally professional (there were all ex-regular) and committed. Life on the Sqn would have been a lot harder with more frequent detachments for the rest of us.

They also carried out a great deal of the more mundane tasks. They got paid, received operational bounty's but more importantly gained a great deal of respect from everyone else in the force.
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Old 8th Feb 2015, 22:55
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Just read this, as I've been busy all weekend...

The thread does seem to have issues with ex-Regular Reservists, as apart from the FTRS comments, the '19 days' bit is less than any true spare-time reservist is mandated to do - anything less is bait for recently retired/ PVR'd Regular personnel.

Spare-time (we've been told by legal types that we're not part-time) minimum is 27 days and rising, normal is 35-39 days, and max is 90 without senior approval.

Most sensible reservists recognise that the more training and experience we can get before mobilisations the better, and use holiday time from work to participate in exercises over and above the mandated 15 day continuous training period. My annual leave from work was split two-thirds RAF, one third family on average.

In the last four years, I've done six months at 12 hours notice and four months at 72 hours notice, and a thirteen month office job that no suitable qualified Regular personnel could be found to fill. Another sqn member joined me on the six monther, with only a little more notice - and he's just de-mobbed from his second trip to Afghanistan in, I think, five years. I retired early from my day job, he still works for a living...

As some have pointed out, we don't wear distinguishing marks, and unless we advertise it - or the grey hair gives us away - you may not know who does it for the pension, and who for the 'fun'

My thanks to those who recognise we're here to help; my sympathy to those who have met the less than capable or less than willing.
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Old 9th Feb 2015, 09:09
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something like 33 years to train a Gen Tech E from the start if you only have them for 19 days a year.
Do civilians have NO transferrable skills then?

CG
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