§ Mr. Rippon
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he proposes to take to reduce the time required for the mobilisation of regular reservists.
§ Mr. Pym
A major objective of current NATO planning is to accelerate the processes of mobilisation and reinforcement in an emergency in order to strengthen the defence and deterrent capability of the Alliance in the face of the548W continuing build-up in Warsaw Pact military strength and readiness. In accordance with this objective I have decided to introduce a new mobilisation scheme for the Army's Regular reservists. Under existing arrangements these Regular reservists are required in peace time to report their availability by post at quarterly intervals and, when mobilised, to report to a central depot according to their regimental affiliation. No direct personal contact with these reservists is maintained in peacetime.
Under the new scheme Regular reservists will report in person on one day a year to a specified local unit so that their records may be updated, their fitness for their role assessed and the uniform and equipment, which they will maintain at home, inspected. A small amount of refresher training may also take place. An annual reporting grant of £100—taxable—and travelling expenses will be paid. On mobilisation Regular reservists will report either to their local unit or to a local centre, which will be dedicated to reinforcement of a specific formation. I am confident that the new scheme will prove attractive both to those members of the Army's Regular Reserve who already have a liability to report annually for training in peacetime and to reservists with no such liability who will be invited to volunteer to participate in the new arrangement. All those reservists concerned are being informed individually of the new scheme and initial issues of uniform and equipment will be made in November 1980.
A similar scheme is being introduced for the Royal Marine element of the Royal Fleet Reserve. In due course this will be extended to the Royal Navy element but on a selective basis. There is no present intention to extend the scheme to RAF reservists.
I estimate that the new scheme will halve the time required to mobilise these Regular reservists and it will therefore be an important and valuable enhancement of our defence capability.