Army Reserve Initiatives and Report on the ABCA Conference

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BRIG Michael Annett CSC
Director General Reserves - Army


In this presentation I will discuss some key initiatives that are being implemented within the Army Reserve and also report on the ABCANZ Reserve Conference

Part 1 Army Reserve Initiatives

Total Work Force Model

Total Workforce Model initiative is currently being implemented throughout Defence. This model is designed to assist with the transition between service categories and make it easier to move between Regular and Reserve components.

Currently the Army Reserve has soldiers serving within SERCAT 2, 3, 5 and SERVOP C. Importantly, the Total Workforce Model will make transfers easier and this can be seen through personnel now regularly transfer between Reserve / Regular forces. Figure 2 shows the percentages of ex-regular force members serving in the Army Reserve. Army Reserve ranks now contain approximately 30% of ex-regular soldiers which benefits the Army Reserve by bringing greater experience to the organisation. The other benefit of the Total Workforce Model is that improvements in the transfer procedures for personnel moving into the Regular Army will again provide experience to Reserve members that may not have been as readily accessible under the previous systems.

Fulltime Army Reserve Officer Program

One initiative that has been implemented to reduce training times is the Fulltime Army Reserve Officer Program. The program takes currently serving (‘in-service’) Officer Cadets and develops them into fully qualified and employment-ready Lieutenants for the Reserve force, within a period of 12 months.

It is a fulltime accelerated training and mentored employment continuum which runs over a calendar year. Officer Cadets are employed on Service Option C (the old ‘Continuous Full Time Service’) for the duration of the program. They complete ARes First Appointment Course training blocks and non-residential training requirements in the first half of the year via the Sydney University Regiment, and graduate from RMC as LTs in July. They are then subsequently posted for employment to an ARA unit (currently allocated within 7 or 3 Bde) to understudy and be mentored by ARA junior officers. During this time, they also complete their officer basic course. At the end of the program in December, they subsequently transfer to an ARes unit fully qualified for employment.

The program provides the Reserve force with a cohort of fully trained and qualified Lieutenants for immediate employment. It uses existing training courses and fills spots historically vacant on course panels. It progresses participants through training in an accelerated method, thereby removing them from the existing pipeline and minimising the chance that they will drop out of training. Through its design and implementation, it increases the qualified junior officer personnel capability.

ADF Veterinarian Capability

I would like to talk to a new capability that has been generated from the Army Reserve and this is a 12 person Veterinary Team staffed by Army Reservists. The Army has not had a formalised veterinary capability since WWII (the Australian Army Veterinary Corps was disbanded in 1946) and lessons learned from contemporary operations suggest that appropriate support is critical to MWD capabilities deployed within operational environments. In the case of NATO operations, ‘whenever possible, veterinary care should be provided by the country sending the animals on the deployment’. To meet these requirements, a body of work has been conducted to raise a dedicated Reserve element that can support the ADF’s veterinary capability requirements.

This team of vets was first deployed on Exercise Talisman Sabre 2017 and personnel were drawn from current serving members of the Army Reserve who hold a civilian accredited veterinary qualification. This is a good example of support that the Army Reserve can provide defence, which has been drawn from existing civilian employment qualifications, that may take significant time (and resources) to establish for a regular soldier or officer. The Army Reserve provides a base of nationally accredited personnel in streams from plumbers to neurosurgeons which can be harnessed to provide capability to the Army and ADF.

Figure 3 shows the veterinary capability on Ex Talisman Sable in which, Veterinary Assistant Private Trefyn Francis, of the 3rd Health Support Battalion, and Veterinarian Private Sean Griffiths, of the 5th/6th Royal Victorian Regiment, check on Air Force explosive detection dog ‘King’ at the veterinary treatment facility attached to the 2nd General Health Battalion Role 2E Hospital at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area during Exercise Talisman Sabre.

Part 2 Key Findings from the ABCANZ Reserve Conference

The Force Generation Cycle

Amongst the ABCANZ nations there is commonality throughout as it relates to the initiatives and readiness cycles of each nation albeit slight differences in the time take to train for a “ready” cycle and degree of notice.

American National Guard: The Australian Army Force Generation Cycle is similar in nature to the American National Guard readiness milestones but the Australian cycle uses a shorter cycle by one year. Notably, readiness and training requirements in both nations are based on similar days of Reserve service to achieve individual and collective training milestones. The ARNG Collective training events build or sustain decisive action proficiencies throughout the four year cycle and their training emphasizes readiness post capstone training events. Again, this training model can be seen in the Australian context within the Reinforcing Battle Group ‘Readying’ and ‘Ready’ phases of the Force Generation Cycle in which progression to the ‘Ready’ phase is linked to an evaluation against directed training levels and standards. This activity is conducted on Ex Talisman Sabre / Hamell every July or August of each year.

UK: The degree of readiness for the UK Reserve forces is again an area that we can see similarities. Reservists are not expected to deploy in the first push but are expected to maintain contingency operational readiness and maintain collective capability at required training levels to support mission preparation. Similarities can be drawn with the Australian model where the Reserve is expected to provide an increasing percentage of the follow-on-forces in major sustained operations.

Canada: Initiatives similar to the Australian Army Reserve component are also occurring in two of our partner nations, Canada and the United Kingdom. Increases in size, shortening the recruitment process, creation of agile service models that support the transition between full and part-time service and revising employment regulations to make it easier to transfer between the Regular and Reserve Forces are all initiatives that both nations are commencing, or parts thereof. Linkages to the Australian Defence Force adoption of the Total Workforce Model and Army Reserve Transformation are seen throughout the ABCANZ partner nations indicating that Australia is keeping pace, if not leading the way with the development of initiatives designed to provide greater capability and readiness.

New Zealand: Whilst the NZDF Army Reserve does not share a great number of the initiatives that the Australian Army is progressing, a key contribution that the NZ Army Reserve will provide under their Future Land Operating Concept 35 is the augmentation of Regular forces. This concept can be seen with the integrated workforce that is resident amongst a number of the Army formations such as 17 Combat Support Brigade, specifically the Army Reservist health specialists that support operations, exercises and daily operations of the Australian Army.

Future Conferences

Despite future ABCANZ Reserve annual meetings being cancelled, all nations present recommended that it be retained as a Reserve component forum nested under the ABCANZ Armies’ Program banner. Discussion at the conference indicated that the forum is a good vessel for coordination between the Five Eyes nations’ armies and it also provides a forum for coordination, issue resolution, and sharing of information, best practices and lessons learned. Engagement of this nature not only facilitates sharing of information and maintenance of communication channels, but allows for issues resolution and injection of pertinent information into individual armies at the highest levels. From a strategic perspective, therefore, separating the Reserve component representation from ABCANZ would be detrimental to operational output

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