The Army of Today. Today’s Army is undergoing a significant period of modernisation guided by the principles established under Plan BEERSHEBA. Throughout this journey the Army has made the transition to an integrated force, one in which capability is the focus not the pathway to develop and deliver that capability, be it full time or part time.
The implementation of BEERSHEBA and specifically for the part time component the supporting relationships between the three Combat Brigades and the six Reserve Brigades: 3 BDE with 11&13 BDE, 7 BDE with 5 & 8 BDE and 1 BDE with 4 & 9 BDE, has very successfully led to the delivery by the paired Reserve Brigades of a Battle Group, specified supporting capabilities, and the continued focus to explore opportunities for Reservists to contribute and serve in one organisation.
The Army Reserve Today. Every year the 2nd Division in accordance with the force generation cycle, delivers a Reserve Battle Group (including a Reserve Artillery Battery), an Engineer Squadron, Protected Lift, Calvary Scouts, Signals, Combat Service Support, Civil-Military Tactical Support Team and staff supplementation. This capability is an ongoing requirement. More broadly, reservists serving in 17 CSS Brigade and 6 Brigade contribute to support Army’s requirements in specialist areas.
In 2016 Battle Group JACKA from 4 & 9 BDE delivered over 800 reserve personnel in collectively trained organisations to 1 Brigade for Exercise Hamel. Battle Group JACKA has been the benchmark for reserve capability delivery from 2nd Division. Similarly reserve personnel from 17 CSS Brigade and 6 Brigade made significant contributions to the integrated forces capability. It is from the personnel who have committed to the training requirements leading to generate collective and specialised organisations, exercised through Hamel, that we are selecting our people for opportunities off shore.
The Army of the Future. The Chief of Army’s vision is an integrated force of 45,000 consisting of about 30,000 full time and 15,000 part-time personnel. An effective reserve component is essential, not optional, to sustaining an Australian brigade group deployed on operations over successive rotations. Our generalist and specialist reserve personnel will continue to serve on all operations. We need a viable, effective, operationally active reserve component now. We will need it even more so into the future.
The need for change. While we have achieved increasing levels of reserve participation and capability on both operations and major exercises over recent years, attracting, training and retaining part time officers and soldiers remains a critical challenge we must resolve. There are no panaceas to a healthy Reserve component, but it is clear that one size does not fit all needs.
- Low training completion rates. Individual training completion rates are a critical vulnerability and have been too low for the past ten years (approximately 57 per cent for soldiers and 26 per cent for officer cadets).
- Sharpened capability focus. Plan BEERSHEBA sharpened our capability focus. The 2nd Division now supports the regular Combat Brigades with a Reserve Battlegroup and supporting capabilities. The collective training requirements of the Reserve Battlegroup are greater than in the past. Reserve Brigades need to focus on collective training which has put pressure on the ability to focus on individual training in the University Regiments. The level of commitment is changing and the reserve needs to transition from a casual force to a professional part time organisation.
- Changing demography. Australia has changed in the last 30 years. There are some depots at which no Reservists are parading and there is no prospect of a viable Reserve element being recruited and sustained. We need to respond to the contemporary environment and recruit where the people are so the Reserve workforce can be sustained at healthy levels.
- Improved training framework. Change is not being driven by pressures to save money. In fact, improved training and funding models have been developed to better orchestrate collective training and provide budget certainty for the generation of directed capability outputs.
- A history of need. Structural and dispositional optimisation has been recommended on eight occasions since the Millar review into the Citizen Military Forces in 1974, but without successful implementation. The most recent attempts were in 2012 and 2013 under Plan BEERSHEBA.
How we are changing. Reserve Transformation involves a number of initiatives that focus on opening recruiting pathways, aligning depots and demography, and making structural adjustments to better support training and development of our people. The outcome we seek is an integrated and operationally-focussed Army of about 45,000. Our approach will be evidence based, open to multiple pathways, and will use trials to test and confirm. Change will be incremental and progressive. Our initial objectives are to stabilise and consolidate the Active Reserve and create the conditions for workforce renewal.
- Heritage and traditions. We are conscious of the heritage and traditions of the Reserve. We will seek to preserve our heritage and traditions through all changes so they may continue to guide and inspire our future officers and soldiers.
- Cultural renewal. Like all who commit to military service, our part-time personnel need to be inspired to serve; inspired by their heritage, their training and development, their operational service, but most of all by their leaders. We need to attract soldiers and officers who want to make a difference to their country and give them an opportunity to build the skills and experience to be selected to deploy. We are a professional part-time force, not a casual force.
- Recruiting pathways. We are streamlining and shortening the recruiting process and enhancing Army's support to Defence Force Recruiting to connect to potential recruits. More choice from more people will provide the best base from which to build our Army and help achieve Army’s recruiting targets in a consistent, repeatable and routine manner. More effective recruiting across a broader cross-section of the community will also, in time, deliver an Army more representative of the society we serve. Army's current priorities are the recruitment of more women and Indigenous Australians.
- Aligning depots and demography. In response to Australia’s changing demographics and the demographics of the Reserve workforce, we seek to optimise infrastructure (including estate), training and work practices to best support future Reserve force generation. Reviews of national Census data gathered in future years will help ensure continued alignment of depots and demography. Army has identified the requirement and is developing a plan for new facilities in areas of population growth. Service and parading models remain available to support Reservists based in rural and remote locations of Australia.
- Structural adjustments. Modernisation of the 2nd Division will involve creation of a training Brigade, Regional Induction Companies, an Artillery Regiment, and a Civil-Military Cooperation unit as well as rebalancing existing capabilities to better enable the generation of directed capability outputs. Commander 8th Brigade will take command of all University Regiments and will be vested with the responsibility for optimising individual training. Structural adjustments will take effect from 1 January 2018 and all currently serving Reserve soldiers and officers will have the opportunity to continue serving.
- Workforce revitalisation. Revitalising our workforce involves stabilising overall numbers at 13,500, decreasing training wastage and improving training retention to establish a sustainable foundation for progressive growth. Wastage and retention will be addressed by reducing the overall time required to complete initial training, reducing the duration of residential training periods, and offering more weekend, on-line or distributed learning options. Adjustments will also be made to training processes and conditions of service to better align Reserve service with modern lifestyles. Trial of a new delivery methodology for the Reserve Recruit Training Course will commence in quarter three, 2017.