Naval Reserve “Roots and Branch” Review 2015–16

Next >     


CAPT Joe Lukaitis, RFD RANRDeputy Chief of Navy RADM Mike Van Balen, RAN has initiated a comprehensive review of the structure, size, roles and management of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve. The Review is to be completed by June 2016 and the terms of reference are wide ranging across all matters affecting Navy Reservists and their role in the RAN.

The review team will be headed by CAPT Frank Kresse RANR. Key players in the review will be Director General Navy Cadets and Reserves CDRE Bruce Kafer, AM,CSC, RANR and CAPT Harry Lok, RANR who recently both attended the DRA 2015 Conference in Sydney.

The DRA welcomes the review following concerns expressed in the 2011 DRA paper on the status and way ahead for the Naval Reserve (“the Lukaitis paper”) and in the DRA’s submission to the current Defence White Paper. The DRA will have the opportunity to make a fulsome submission to the Review team.

Key Issues

A key subject of the review will be the anomaly that has persisted for many years now where of the RANR Active Strength of nearly 4500 members only 2000 engage in any Naval service employment leaving 2500 Reservists with their “hands up” wanting to make a contribution but having no opportunity of currency training or employment. There are approximately another 3000 Naval Reservists in the Standby List who are not presently volunteers for service but who are subject to “call out”.

The DRA has been advocating the case of these ‘unused’ Reservists since 2011 arguing that they need monitoring, management and engagement. Success in these endeavours will be a win for individual Navy Reservists who will re-connect with Navy and hopefully fulfil their Reserve careers, whilst the win for the RAN will be a known and measureable people capability for current needs and importantly future needs in times of escalated operational demands.

In any event there will be ever growing pressure on personnel requirements within the future RAN fleet comprising the two Landing Helicopter Dock Ships, the three Air Warfare Destroyers and the next generation of Submarines all additional to the existing fleet of Destroyers, Patrol Boats, Hydrographic Ships, Support Vessels and Helicopter Squadrons.

Background and Catalysts for the review

CDRE Bruce Kafer in his briefing to the DRA National Conference held in Sydney on the 21 August 2015 described the background and catalysts for the review. He explained that the RANR is providing: 

  • Significant workforce capability totalling in numbers 15% of Navy’s Trained Workforce which in full time equivalents is 713 positons or 6% of Navy’s workforce.
  • A Reserve workforce for Operational Relief (e.g. 2 Patrol Boat Crew equivalents for Operation Sovereign Borders, Fixed Part Time positions (FRC) above and a non-permanent part time on call pool of casual labour.

He further explained that the present ‘Reserve Model’ had been in place for 16 years and it was time to validate and/or correct the model further to meet future needs. He said it was clear Navy does not fully appreciate the ‘Return on Investment’ derived from maintaining a Reserve capability.

CDRE Kafer cited a number of areas of concern with the present Naval Reserve Integrated Workforce paradigm:

  • Overly bureaucratic processes for bidding for RANR positions and appointing personnel
  • RAN Reservists being used as a casual labour force
  • Lack of career management for Navy Reservists (posting, planning, promotions and continuation training etc)
  • Under resourcing of RANR workforce management functions (one full time staff and a few part time staff managing 4500 Active Reservists), and
  • With few exceptions, no focus on embedding Specialist Reserve capability within the RAN Scheme of Complement

RANR Contact Confirmation Project

CDRE Kafer also reported in his briefing that:

  • A project had been commenced in November 2014 to confirmthecontactdetailsofallRANR members. The objectives of the project is to ensure that all Navy Reservists are able to be contacted should “call out” be implemented, and to ensure that Chief of Navy meets the Defence (Personnel) Regulations Requirements to have a Standby Reserve, and it has emerged that:
    • Statistics for the project as at August 2015 were:
      • Members contacted – 7016 of 8228 (total RANR population)
      • Responses received – 5315 of 7016
      • Contact details requiring update in PMKeyS – 4707 of 5315 (89%)
      • Discharge at own request – 554 (in course of being processed)
      • Transfer to Standby Reserve due to a lack of commitment – 1994
      • Lost Contacts – 735
      • Deceased Members – 11
    • Project completion is currently forecast for late November 2015.

Terms of the Review

The Terms of the Review (TOR) are comprehensive and provide for a phased program for analysis of strategic, operational and tactical elements.

Phase 1 Strategic Issues (Research and Understanding)

Phase 2 Operational Design (Naval Reserve System Concept)

Phase 3 Tactical Enablers (Implementing the revised or new system)

The TOR provide that proposed changes are to be supported by an implementation plan, and a ‘communications and marketing’ strategy.

The review will address the following specific matters:

  1. Chief of Navy’s ‘Call Out’ obligations (Defence Act 1903);
  2. The size and structure of the NR workforce required to meet Navy’s future needs, including categories (Personnel Regulations 2002);
  3. The funded Reserve Commitment construct (including Short Term Reserve Positions, PN Vacancies, Ad Hoc attendance);
  4. The management and reporting of NR Military Employee Expenses (NRMEE);
  5. The impact of Project SUAKIN on NR funding and the FRC construct;
  6. Career management of NR members (including individuals’ continuation training, collective training, reporting, promotion, postings);
  7. Resourcing of the NR career management activity within NPCMA;
  8. NR recruitment requirements and processes; and
  9. Analysis and reporting of NR workforce data.

Given the comprehensive Terms of the Review (which are available on the DRA website) it should be clear to stakeholders that ‘everything is on the table’ for consideration by the review team and that we might expect a new look Naval Reserve going forward in 2016.

Amongst the various matters set out above the review team is asked to take into account:

  • The forthcoming Defence White Paper and Force Structure Review
  • The impact of Project SUAKIN on Naval Reserve funding and the Funded Reserve Commitment Construct
  • Plan Pelorus (Navy Strategic Plan 2018), and the forthcoming Navy Workforce Plan 2018

Plan Pelorus is Chief of Navy’s passage plan and strategy to 2018. It contemplates the challenge of new platforms operating independently or as part of an amphibious Task group or surface action group whilst maintaining constabulary tasks and undertaking peace keeping and humanitarian measures and it contemplates the challenge to the Navy workforce to recruit, train and retain the required number of motivated Navy people to deliver the various required capabilities.

The Naval Reserve review provides a real opportunity to revitalise the Naval Reserve and re-model it to help meet Chief of Navy’s Plan Pelorus challenges whilst utilising a significant pool of unused volunteers for Australian naval service.

A formal submission will be made to the review team by the DRA National Council drawing on the views and experience of current and retired Naval Reservists.

About the Author
CAPT Joe Lukaitis, RFD, RANR is a Maritime Warfare Officer. He is the National Vice President Navy of the Defence Reserves Association. During 2006 – 2010 he was Director Naval Reserve Capability in Navy Strategic Command.

Share this with your friends