Reserve Forces Review 2030

May 12, 2021
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Ministry of Defence sign

A vision of a greater, more integral role for the Reserve Forces within the UK’s future defence and security capability – at home and overseas – is set out in a report published today, which follows a wide-ranging review. 

The Reserve Forces Review 2030 (RF30) report offers 18 recommendations for consideration, in four key areas:

  • Re-defining the reserves’ relationship with society, recognising the need to co-operate and share expertise with, for instance, industry and academia.
  • Expanding the role of the reserves as part of an integrated joint force, helping deliver ‘active’ tasks – such as UK resilience and defence diplomacy – whilst preserving and enhancing their assured capability to meet ‘contingent’ tasks such as war fighting.
  • Ways to unlock the full potential of the reserves component of the UK’s armed forces, such as simplifying commitment types.
  • Transforming how the reserves are supported to deliver their mission, recognising the unique needs of the force and with a strong emphasis on digital enablement.

RF30 was commissioned by the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, and conducted by a small team led by a senior serving reservist and former Minister for the Armed Forces, Brigadier The Rt Hon the Lord Lancaster of Kimbolton TD PC. The report follows 10 months of research and engagement and suggests how Defence may build on earlier work under the £1.85bn Future Reserves 2020 programme.

Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey said: 

“We thank Lord Lancaster for his thorough and insightful review into our Reserve Forces. 

“The Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper emphasised the importance of adapting to new and evolving threats; our reserves will play a vital role in supporting Defence and wider government as we take forward this new direction. 

“We will now examine the recommendations in detail and respond formally to the report in due course.”

RF30 is capability driven. It is designed to help inform wider work to establish the UK’s future defence and security requirements, taking account of the increasing need to meet emerging risks and threats. It sits alongside the recently published Integrated Review and the Integrated Operating Concept 2025.

RF30, through its recommendations, seeks to ensure that the UK’s Reserve Forces – the Maritime, Army and RAF Reserves – become more able, agile, relevant and focused on delivering real capability, as an essential component of the future integrated ‘whole force’ (regular, reserve, civil service and contractors). It pays attention to how reservists might be enabled and encouraged to enhance ‘active’ Defence outputs, through a ‘Reinforcement Reserve’. It also suggests how the population of ex-regular personnel could be better recognised and stood by as a genuine force for good in times of crisis, as part of a ‘Strategic Reserve’.

The report speaks to an increasing need for Defence to forge firmer links with society, recognising especially the role that reservists can play in encouraging the sharing of talent and expertise with industry, wider government and academia. 

Defence will engage with key stakeholders, including current and future employers of reservists, and other parts of government and industry, to fully understand the implications of the RF30 recommendations and their coherence with wider Defence work before reaching final decisions on the way forward. A formal, detailed response can be expected at the end of the year. 

The full report is available HERE.