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Defence Review will give huge boost to numbers of reservists

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 31, 2012

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Maritime reserve forces providing back up for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines will see their numbers grow by more than 50 per cent while the number of regular servicemen and women continue to be massively scaled back.

A detailed proposal on the changes announced by the Government is due to be published this autumn, but if early plans come to fruition some key roles will become the province of part-timers.

Commander Ian Pethick, who is in charge of the Royal Navy Reserve unit HMS Vivid, based at Devonport, said reservists had a lot to offer.

"It is brilliant from the reservists' perspective," he said.

"It means that we are being recognised for what we have done in the past and the value we have brought to a whole range of armed forces work.

"It is nice to think of reservists as a growing industry inside the armed services."

Defence secretary Philip Hammond has said that an additional £1.8 billion will be invested into reserve forces over the next ten years.

As far as the maritime contingent is concerned, this will mean that current numbers will grow from 1,900 to 3,100 by 2018.

He said that the new force will deliver greater depth and range of skills to the Senior Service and that key areas of growth will be the exploitation of existing niche capabilities, such as medical, communications and intelligence gathering.

There will also be a bolstering of support to the Fleet Air Arm at RNAS Culdrose, near Helston in Cornwall, and RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset.

The changes have been ushered in as part of the Strategic Defence Security Review (SDSR), which has seen Devonport Naval Base stripped of four warships and around one-third of the first 1,000 naval redundancies issued in the Westcountry.

Increasing the numbers of reservists in all of the tri-services is a central plank of the SDSR, leading to some criticisms that full-time professional servicemen and women were being replaced by part-timers on the cheap.

Cdr Pethick said that he could understand why some people might think that, but reservists, many of whom have served with honour on the front line, brought a vast pool of experience to the services.

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