UK military to rely more on reservists

AP News
Posted: Jun 07, 2012 7:25 AM

Britain's army will be forced to rely more heavily on reservists and contractors in the future amid military cuts, the defense secretary said Thursday.

Philip Hammond told military experts that the U.K. will need to work closely with international partners and look to others to "provide the tail, where Britain is concentrating on providing the teeth" in defense.

In a speech at the Royal United Services Institute, Hammond acknowledged that whole units will disappear as the regular army shrinks by 20,000 in the coming years. He said "difficult decisions" will have to be made.

Changes to the shape of the army will involve rethinking every aspect of the military to maximize front-line capabilities, Hammond said, adding that that will transform the role of reserve forces.

He stressed that the future British army will need to think "innovatively about how combat service support is provided" and take advantage more systematically of the skills available in the reserve forces and among contractors.

"The future reserves must be structured to provide, as they do today, some niche specialist capabilities that aren't cost-effective to maintain on a full-time basis - for example in areas of cyber, medical, or intelligence," he said.

Hammond said that Britain will invest 1.8 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) in reserve forces over the next 10 years.