Belfast Telegraph

Army reservists to be integrated

Army reservists in Northern Ireland are to be fully integrated with regular soldiers by 2020, senior officers said.

The move is part of a wider restructuring which will see the number of regular troops reduced while giving part-time soldiers a bigger role in global operations.

Brigadier Rob Thomson said: "We see the Reserves delivering much more in the future, providing general military and specialist capabilities not only as individuals but also as formed groups.

"Naturally and rightly, this means changes and improvements to both individual and collective training. It also means that we will improve the equipment available to the Reserve."

Under the Total Force plan, the Territorial Army (TA) will be known as the Army Reserve. There will be no reduction in the 22 formed units in Northern Ireland but some will relocate to other bases and receive a new name.

Part-timers can expect to be deployed on six-month tours of duty every five years and will be eligible for paid leave while on operations.

They will train alongside the units with which they deploy and will be issued with new kit and equipment.

Reserves in Northern Ireland represent under 4% of the total UK strength but have provided over 20% of the Reserve personnel deployed overseas. Reserves in Northern Ireland also stay in the armed forces three times longer than the UK average of under four years.

Colonel Nick Tougher, the senior Reserves officer in Northern Ireland, said the operational success and high standards in Northern Ireland had been recognised.

"Over the past number of years the men and women in the Reserves within Northern Ireland, whilst representing only about 4% of the total UK Reserves strength, have consistently provided around 20% of all reservists on difficult and dangerous overseas deployments," he said.

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