Army Reserve Update and Policy changes affecting Reserve personnel in Army
Thank you for the opportunity to chat to you today to provide an update on the Army Reserve and discuss Policy changes affecting Reserve personnel in Army. Today my brief will be divided into two areas. The first part will provide you an update on the current state of the Army Reserve, some positive news with respect to growth and recruitment and a short summary of major activities undertaken by the Army Reserve in the past twelve months. The second part will touch on the employment of Reservists in cyber roles and some policy refinement.
Strength / Recruitment
Over the past few years, it has been pleasing to see the Army Reserve strength progressively increase. At present the Army Reserve is benefiting from historically low separation rates (some 3% lower that the five year average) and increased recruitment. Overall this has had a positive impact on the strength and we have seen growth of just under 1,000 people over the two years including an improvement in our female representation to 14.7%.
Whilst this growth indicates an improvement in the overall strength, it is assessed as a stabilisation of the Workforce as most of the growth has been in the training force. With the improvements in the training system under the Reserve Transformation programme we should see the trained force grow in the coming six to twelve months as recently recruited trainees become fully qualified. Importantly, and a reflection of the good work being achieved through the Reserve Transformation, is that a higher percentage of people are completing basic soldier training in less time than what we did ten years ago. This is a key measurable for the transformation but our next challenge is to ensure that we train the required number of people to meet our growth milestones.
Understanding the impacts that recruitment and retention has had on the strength of the Reserves is important to maintaining our growth. When looking at the graph on the screen, this shows a positive story for the Reserve strength into the future. Inflow levels have increased since FY 13/14 and are similar to those of FY 10/11 when the Reserve was at its strongest in the recent history. Additionally, outflows have decreased which provides us the net gain of people. Direction from the senior leadership in Army is that recruitment levels will remain at their current levels. This means that growth in the next five years will continue.
Contributions / Equipment / Hamel
As mentioned by MAJGEN Porter the Reserve Transformation is progressing strongly but this is not all that the Army Reserve has focused on in the past 12 months. It is also important to mention the substantial contribution the Reserve has provided Army. This year, Reserve Battle Group Waratah put 600 people in the field for Ex Hamel. These Reservists were integrated into 7 Bde for the duration of the activity, completing similar tasks and roles as the full time soldiers. Notable here is that this is the third year running in which a battlegroup consisting of Reservists has supported the force generation cycle, a significant achievement and contribution from the part-time force. Moving forward the 2nd Division will continue to generate a similar capability annually. Also significant to the total workforce is the support that Reservists have provided to operations. Some 500 individuals have deployed on OP RESOLUTE, ACORDIAN and HIGHROAD in the past 12 months. These contributions are significant and an indication of the commitment and benefit that the part time workforce is providing Army.
It is also good to see that the Reserve is being progressively issued modernised equipment that meets its capability requirements. New EF88 rifles, Australian Multicam camouflage uniforms, improved load carriage equipment and additional Protected Mobility Vehicles are being provided to the Army Reserve. The rollout of this equipment is in accordance with a wider Army plan, but parts of the Army Reserve are already in receipt of new equipment.
Earlier this year, Reserve and Youth Division expressed concerns with ADF fatigue management policies and the absence of specific guidance on employing Reservists. Reference was made to the consequences of Reservists completing work in their civilian workplace and then immediately starting a period of Reserve service without sufficient respite. Whilst there have been no specific unsafe fatigue management trends identified across Army, Army undertook to review its broader fatigue management policy and has taken measures to improve awareness of current policy. Suggested fatigue management practices and policy information was promulgated across Army and the Directorate of Army Health has drafted an update of the ‘Commanders guide to fatigue management’. Importantly, a section of this guide contains considerations relating to the management of fatigue in Reserve personnel. This section references PACMAN provisions for recuperation of Reservists after arduous activities, operational tempo considerations, the implications of managing two workplaces and management strategies to counter potential inherited fatigue. This will be released in the coming months.
I am also pleased to note that from January 2019 Army will have Reservists working as cyber specialist alongside full time Army personnel. Given that competition for talent in cyber markets is fierce, (and there is a limited pool of adequately trained and experienced cyber individuals nationally), to draw upon to meet the ADF’s unique capability and skills requirements Army is progressing a number of strategies to ensure we can tap into this market.
In summary, the last twelve months has been positive for the Army Reserve. Recruitment is improving, the workforce is growing, transformation is meeting it planned milestones and the Reserve continues to provide valuable contributions to the total workforce.