FR20 Green Paper: An opportunity to engage with society
With increasing speculation about how Army2020 and FR20 will work as the defence strategy of the future, the newly appointed Deputy Commander Land Forces is calling on everyone to engage with the FR20 Green Paper to ensure a credible and viable 30,000-strong Reserve force.
“I’m encouraging everyone, inside and outside the Army, Regular and Reserve, to engage with the Green Paper so we get all the information sucked up into the Army headquarters and into Defence so we can help shape the TA of the future,” explains Major General Ranald Munro who took over as DCLF from the Duke of Westminster last month.
“The reality is that we are in a period of austerity and we can’t afford the large standing forces that we had. That is the bottom line. If you are in business you reduce your fixed costs and you increase your variable costs. I know people say the Army is not a business - well to the extent that it has a budget that it has to attend to it is a business. I’ve heard the phase “a pay as you go Army” and actually, that’s reality. The force numbers are coming down. If you want to maintain capability, which we do, then you have to deliver it somehow. That’s where the Reserves come in – to deliver a capability. Which is why if we fail to deliver FR20, then Army2020 will fail, because the Reserves are such an integral part of it.
“The critical part to delivering FR20, and therefore Army 2020, is the engagement with society and the Green Paper is a huge opportunity to engage with society.
“It’s saying: ‘OK, this how we are going to do Defence, but how do we engage with you, society and employers, so that you can benefit from those you employ who are in the Reserve service, and how can we make it even easier for you so it doesn’t detract from your business and your bottom line?’
“I think it’s hugely important to have that discussion - one because you are socialising the issues, and two, because you want people to engage in the process. We need to get employers and society onside to deliver FR20. And good ideas will come out of the discussion that I am sure that will help shape and maybe even change how things work.
“Yes, there will be underpinning legislation to so that TA soldiers and Officers are not disadvantaged in the workplace, but it can’t just be the stick - there has got to be the carrot. The whole point of the Green Paper is to test the options. There is no answer, so while we have an idea of how we would like to shape it, the decision will be formed by the consultation.
“What we can’t forget is that this isn’t new. Australia, Canada, America, have done similar sort of exercises so there are lessons to be learnt. The TA are a credible solution. We have delivered on Iraq, we are delivering in Afghanistan, and we delivered on the Olympics. We have done everything asked of us and more in my opinion so I think we are credible - more so now than perhaps it has ever been.”
More information can be found on the Green Paper consultation document in the right-hand panel.