Chapter 6 - Reserves
For many years, the ADF has pursued a ‘One Army’
Concept. This concept was originally proposed by Dr T. B. Millar in a Report on
the Citizens Military Forces in 1974 and was designed to make full use of the
total personnel asset available to the Army.
In accordance with this concept, the Army has created integrated Regular and
Reserve units and standardised training. The release of the Defence White Paper
‘Defence 2000—Our Future Defence Force’ has confirmed the ‘One Army’ concept
by emphasising a strategic role for Reserves to support and sustain the ADF. However, the Committee noted
that there are a number of recruitment and retention issues associated with the
development of this strategic role for Reserves.
The Committee received many submissions from
Army Reserve personnel. This prompted the Committee to conduct public hearings
with individual Reservists in Perth, Sydney and Canberra, and conduct
discussion groups with Reservists at 13 Brigade in Perth and Norforce in Darwin.
There was also a sprinkling of Reservists among the discussion groups held on
bases. Navy and Air Force Reserve personnel raised no significant issues. In
this chapter, the Committee will, therefore, focus on recruiting, training, and
management of the Army Reserve.
Background—roles and tasks of
Any discussion of the Army Reserve must be
prefixed by an understanding of Project Army 2003. This project is reviewing
roles, tasks, force structure and preparedness, mobilisation and expansion requirements
and combat force development planning for the Army. Ultimately, Project Army
2003 will deliver a ‘sustainable and deployable combat force that draws on both
Regular and Reserve components to meet and achieve operational requirements’.More importantly, Army expects
that this project will ‘result in clear and decisive roles and tasks for the
Following Project Army 2003, it is likely that
the Army Reserve will have three broad functions: reinforcement, round out and
This means that Reserve formations and units are likely to be required to
undertake generic tasks. It follows that recruitment and retention strategies
for the Reserve must be able to support these tasks. The likely generic tasks
- Hold personnel or force elements at very high levels of readiness
to meet Defence Aid to the Civil Community tasks;
- Hold personnel or force elements at high levels of readiness to
provide round out to RDF and Enabling component Regular units;
- Hold personnel at high levels of readiness to provide
reinforcement to Ready Deployment Force (RDF) units;
- Hold sub-units and units at longer readiness levels to provide
forces to rotate with force elements of the RDF; and
- Develop and maintain mobilisation plans to meed Defence of
Australia scenario and tasks.
Table 5.1 depicts Army Reserve recruiting
targets and enlistments over the last four years. The Committee notes that the
ADF has not achieved its Army Reserve recruiting targets since 1997/98. The
recruiting results for the Navy and Air Force Reserve over the same period have
also been poor.
There is evidence to suggest that this has been caused by the centralisation of
Reserve and Regular recruiting functions with DFRO.
Table 5.1 Army Reserve recruiting achievement
Numerous submissions and hearings criticised the
centralisation of the Reserve recruiting function with the DFRO. These
criticisms focused on the ability of the DFRO to correctly market and attract
recruits to individual Reserve formations and units. One witness argued:
I joined in 1988 and, back in those times, you were able to go
to a unit that you would like to join, see how it all ran and then you were
able to join that unit. From what I have seen over the years, now you have to
go through recruiting and, basically, they try to slot you in where they can.
Recently, the ADF adjusted its recruiting
functions to allow Army Reserve units to attract and prepare prospective
recruits for the enlistment stages of the recruitment process. According to the
Director of Reserves Army, this adjustment has proven to be a very positive
In addition, Headquarters DFRO has installed additional Reserve staff on
full-time service to develop strategies and support Reserve unit recruiting.
Overall, DFRO believe the emphasis on ‘direct to unit’ recruiting has
contributed to a 30 per cent improvement in Reserve recruiting. However, from its visits to
Headquarters DFRO, Reserve units and the DSC, the Committee notes that more
resources need to be allocated in support of this initiative. One small example
is the fact that DSC Cooma staff require more information on Reserve unit
locations in order to direct enquires.
Transition between Reserve and
In Chapter 3, we discussed issues related to
re-enlistment and Service transfer as part of the recruiting process. The
Committee was interested to observe that many Reservists transfer to Regular
forces. This led the Committee to investigate what schemes were available to
encourage Regular personnel to transfer to Reserve forces at the end of their
full-time engagement. A scheme of flexible transition between Regular and
Reserve service was recommended as an Alternate Personnel Model in the 2000
Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Report on the
A Reserve service obligation at the conclusion
of full-time service was considered by the Committee. Such a service obligation
would enable high levels of experience to be retained in the ADF. This
obligation could be linked to a financial or educational incentive and would
cater for changing individual needs. As an example, a soldier serves a three-year
full time service engagement followed by a mandatory one year in the Army
Reserve and receives assistance in university study fees.
The Committee, however, rather than support the
introduction of a mandatory transfer from the Permanent Force to the Reserves
would prefer to see an incentive-based voluntary transfer. There are many
potential obstacles for a mandatory system. Disgruntled soldiers discharging
from the Permanent Force may upset the harmony of a Reserve unit. The Reserve
unit might be better off without them. If discharge is caused by family
problems, those problems might continue during Reserve service. The location of
the nearest Reserve unit might make attendance difficult or expensive. As the
person discharged would have to find a new job, a new employer may not take a
sympathetic view to the requirements of Reserve service, in spite of statutory
If a range of incentives was made available from
which a discharging member of the Permanent Force could choose, it is likely
that many would take the option of one or two years in the Reserves (and maybe
stay much longer).
Given the shortage of personnel in the Army
Reserve, the Committee believes that the Department of Defence should
investigate providing discharging members of the Permanent Force with
incentives to spend one or two years in the Reserves.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Defence
retain and develop the capacity for ‘direct to unit’ Army Reserve recruiting.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Defence
investigate and introduce an incentive program to encourage Reserve service
following full-time service.
Retention of Reserves
The Department of Defence provided evidence
that, as at 15 May 2001, the Reserve wastage rate was the lowest it had been
for many years (15 per cent). However, the Committee is of the view that this
wastage rate is unacceptable given the fact that the overall strength of the
Reserve is low and Reserve recruiting targets are not being achieved. The
Committee noted that Common Induction Training (CIT) and poor levels of manning
and equipment in units had combined to cause retention problems in the Reserve.
Competency Based Training
In the past, Reserve training was restricted to
two-week modules and did not teach the same competencies as Regular courses.
From 1998, the Army introduced CIT as part of a total approach to
competency-based training and assessment.
In this approach, Army trains Reserve and Regular soldiers in the same
competencies so as to ensure all members are appropriately trained to perform
the tasks required of them. The problem that has arisen out of this approach is
that many Reservists are not able to attend the longer CIT courses. This had
caused a negative impact on Reserve recruitment and retention.
The Committee received considerable comment
regarding CIT. Essentially, these comments referred to the difficulty Reservist
encountered gaining access to and attending CIT. This was the case not just for
recruit training but for all trade training, particularly medical assistants.
One witness observed:
..it is harder and harder for reservists to go anywhere in the
military, because it is hard to get on courses these days. A lot of the courses
these days are ARA orientated. They will sometimes put you-if you are lucky and
there is an operational requirement-on the reserve list, which means you might
get told a week before a seven week course that you are on the course. You have
then got to go to your employer cap in hand saying, ‘I want seven weeks off.’
It is not going to happen.
The Government and the Department of Defence
have introduced measures to assist Reservist undergoing CIT. Earlier this year
the Government introduced legislation to protect reservists and employers for
Army Reserve training and mobilisation.
Meanwhile, the Department of Defence has permitted modular delivery of CIT for
However, the Committee received evidence that these measures were not entirely
The modulisation (sic) of, say, Kapooka, is fine in theory, but
the problem is: how many employers do you know will give six weeks off in a
year? By the time these guys have completed their module training it could be
three years down the line.
The Committee took evidence from Lieutenant
Colonel Stephen Larkins, Commanding Officer of 9th Combat Service
Support Battalion, Adelaide, who advocated more flexibility in Reserve
One of the themes in my paper is the fact that we have to be
flexible and we have to be prepared to offer a variety of options. The notion
that there is a one size fits all solution does not recognise the difference
between full-time and part-time service. Most part-time personnel have
significant vocational or study commitments. Some have the flexibility to be
able to attend a program such as the common induction training program but, by
and large, it has been a significant disincentive. You have only to look at the
enlistment numbers since the program was introduced to see that there is a direct
We need to be looking at a range of options. The ideal that
everyone graduates after six weeks training at the same standard is certainly
commendable but it is not realistically achievable. There is plenty of evidence
to show that, certainly over the last six to eight years, large numbers of
reservists have deployed on commitments of all kinds and by far the majority of
them were inducted and trained under the old system, whereby they came in and
did two weeks recruit training and then picked up a lot of on-the-job training
in their units. That is the major difference between the reserve and the
Regular Army. Reserve units have an ongoing training function, whereas regular
units are set up. They receive soldiers from the training institutions fully
trained and ready to be employed in their trade area, whereas in the reserve we
take people basically straight out of recruit training and then they are imbued
with those skills and qualifications over an extended period of time,
recognising the fact that they are part-time personnel.
The Committee received evidence in Perth that,
even when the Reserve Brigade at Karrakatta was able to recruit Reservists, who
had the time to attend CIT at Kapooka, quotas were applied to Kapooka courses,
which only added to the frustration of the unit. As one witness told the
An issue that has come up in the unit since we have been doing a
big recruiting drive is the number of people that we can send to Kapooka every
week. We can send five people per month to Kapooka from WA. I seriously do not
understand it - we recruit like crazy ...
Five per month that we can send away to Kapooka. We go out and
we bust our butts to get all these people in and we cannot even get them away.
We are putting them off. You cannot even get on a recruiting course that is six
weeks long. So by the time these poor people get qualified it will be two to
three years down the track. What kind of incentive is that for them to come in
here? They would be on minimum wages the whole time. I certainly think that
that is a hot issue here in WA for the reservists and the regs. It is both ARA
and reserves, so it is not just reserves.
As there are still training facilities in Perth,
it would probably be cheaper and more convenient to send a training team to
Perth to conduct CIT training there rather than send all Regular and Reserve
recruits to Kapooka. The same approach might also be applied in other places
where training facilities were still available.
It is clear that there will be long-term
recruitment problems for the Reserves while CIT is required for all Reservist
recruits, even if it is done on a modular basis. Even recent changes in
legislation are not the panacea for Reserve CIT and trade training. It may
simply deter employers from employing Reservists. Alternative ways of providing
training on a State-based level should be considered.
Manning and equipment for
All of the units visited by the Committee
commented on shortages of manpower and equipment. Lack of live ammunition and
restrictions on access to training areas were also cited as detrimental to
Invariably, these shortages prompted many Reservists to elect discharge. One
I am from a supply company. We call ourselves the supply section,
because that is how many people show up on a regular Tuesday night.
Many Reservists complained about the lack of
understanding of Reserves by Regulars, including by Regulars attached to
Reserve units. Others complained that the pay and allowance they received
barely covered their expenses in attending Reserve parades, especially if they
live a long way from the Reserve unit. One Reservist in Perth drew attention
to the problem of slow Comcare payment of medical expenses when a Reservist is
injured on Reserve duty.
Short-term reviews of equipment and manning
entitlements for all Reserve units will be conducted as part of Project Army
The Committee looks forward to observing the results of these reviews and the
redistribution of manpower and equipment to remove the ‘hollowness’ of the Army
Reserve. However, as the report of Project Army 2003 is yet to be released,
more equipment must be made available in the meantime to Reserve units.
Previous reports have noted that the issue of
the Reserve Forces ‘represents the most intractable issue within the Army in
the last 30 years’.
The Committee feels that this situation has not changed. Indeed, recruiting and
wastage statistics for the Army Reserve over the last few years suggest that
this issue has reached a critical point. Many of the recruitment and retention
problems faced by the Army Reserve have been given short-term attention in
anticipation of a strategic solution being produced from Project Army 2003. The
Committee concluded that more emphasis might be placed on direct-to-unit
recruiting and flexible CIT given the likely tasks for Reserve units under
Project Army 2003. For example, does a unit that is required to conduct Aid to
the Civil Community tasks need to contain soldiers that are trained and
equipped for war fighting? The Committee is of the firm view that Project Army
2003 provides the ultimate opportunity for the ADF to finally address ‘the most
The Committee recommends that the Department of Defence
restructure the manning, equipment and training of the Army Reserve to match
the new roles and tasks outlined by Project Army 2003, taking into account the
difficulties for recruitment and retention of CIT training.
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