COMMONS

Future Army 2020 report published

06 March 2014

The Army 2020 plan does not present a convincing blueprint for an Army that can effectively counter uncertain threats and unforeseen circumstances, says the Commons Defence Committee in its report, Future Army 2020, published today.

The Committee calls on the MoD to justify how the conclusion was reached that an Army of 82,000 Regulars and 30,000 Reserves represents the best way of countering future threats.

The Committee says that the Army 2020 plan for Reaction and Adaptable Forces, including integrated Reservists, represents a radical vision for the future role and structure of the British Army. It departs significantly from the announcements made in SDSR 2010 and there are considerable doubts about how the plan was developed and tested, and whether it will meet the needs of the UK’s national security.

The Committee calls on the MoD to justify how the conclusion was reached that the Army 2020 plan for 82,000 Regulars and 30,000 Reserves represented the best way of countering emerging and uncertain threats and establishing a contingent capability to deal with unforeseen circumstances.

The report calls for a detailed annual report on the Army’s Fighting Power to be laid before Parliament setting out progress and setbacks in implementing the Army 2020 plan. “Fighting power” refers specifically to the Forces’ ability to fight based on its physical, moral and conceptual components. The first of these reports should be laid before Parliament in January 2015 to allow consideration and debate before the 2015 General Election and to inform the 2015 SDSR.

Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot, says,

"The MoD has failed to communicate the rationale and strategy behind the Army 2020 plan to the Army, the wider Armed Forces, Parliament and the public. Our concern is that the financially driven reduction in the numbers of Regulars has the potential to leave the Army short of key personnel until sufficient additional Reserves are recruited and trained."

Given that, on most occasions, expeditionary operations will be carried out in cooperation with the UK’s Allies, the Committee calls on the Government to set out the current status of the UK-France Combined Joint Expeditionary Force. The Committee also calls on the MoD to provide an update on progress on the development of the new UK Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), including how it will train and operate and the extent to which appropriate multi-national partners have proved willing to participate in JEF planning and activity.

Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot, says,

“There is no question that UK Armed Forces will deploy on an expeditionary operation in the future. It is essential that the Army maintains its ability to undertake such operations at short notice. Any loss of such capability would have serious implications for the UK’s national security.”

The report welcomes the measures in the Reserves White Paper and the Defence Reform Bill and recognises the support many employers have given to the Reserve Forces over many years. However the report concludes that it is too early to judge whether the measures in the White Paper and the Bill will prove effective in encouraging the recruitment of reserves and ensuring the support of businesses of all sizes in achieving Army 2020. The Committee calls on the Ministry of Defence to set how it will assess the effectiveness of the measures and the timescale for deciding on whether further action and incentives are required.

Further information

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