Defence review 'will boost TA reservists'

Royal Marine in Afghanistan
Image caption The last defence review was in October 2010 and led to several cuts being announced

A government report on Britain's reserve forces will recommend a U-turn in plans to cut back the Territorial Army, it is believed.

It will warn against dramatic cuts in TA numbers as part of efforts to slash defence budgets, the Times reports.

Commissioned as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, it is due to be completed this summer.

It is expected to suggest boosting the ratio of reservists to regular troops from 15 in every 85 to as many as 30.

Deputy head of the armed forces Gen Sir Nick Houghton was commissioned by the government to produce a review of the future role and structure of the TA and their Royal Navy and RAF equivalents.

It followed October's Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), in which Defence Secretary Liam Fox announced that warships, fast jet fighters and thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen would face the axe.

'Better appreciated'

Reservists were spared any immediate reductions, despite reports during the negotiations over where the cuts should happen that their numbers could drop by as many as a third.

Tory MP and long-time TA officer Julian Brazier, who worked on the report, told the Times there would be no backing for "overnight slashing" of personnel.

"At the end of this process we want to end up with a much better relationship between the regular and reserve forces and with the reservists feeling that they are better appreciated," he said.

"The size and scale of the reserves will depend upon where the prime minister decides to set the balance," he said.

"I think what we will be announcing will please reservists."

The UK has a far lower proportion of reservist to regular soldiers than major allies - presently around 15 to every 85 full-timers compared with a 50:50 split in the US and 40:60 in Australia.

An MoD spokesman said it would be wrong to speculate on the outcomes of a review while it was still ongoing.

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