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Tuesday, 27 March 2001
Page: 25793

Mr Price asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 6 February 2001:

(1) Further to the release of the Defence White Paper, are the Army Reserves to be retasked; if so, in what way.

(2) Was an Army Reserve Conference held in Canberra in 2000; if so, what were the outcomes.

(3) Under what circumstances will reservists be utilised to fill slots in the Regular Army (so called “Slot Theory”).

(4) Has any commitment been made to utilise the Army Reserve in formed units; if so, when, by whom and to what degree.

(5) Has any recent study or project been undertaken to better utilise the Army Reserve; if so, (a) when and when was it completed and (b) is it publicly available.

(6) Has there been any change to the readiness requirements of the Army Reserve; if so, what change.

(7) Are there increased training requirements of the Army Reserve; if so, what.

Mr Reith (Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The Army Reserve may be retasked in the future, subject to legislation which is yet to be considered by the Senate. The way in which the Army Reserve could be retasked is an issue under consideration as part of a current study by Army Headquarters into the Roles and Tasks of the Reserves.

(2) An Army Reserve Seminar, convened by the Chief of Army, was held in October 2000. The aim of the conference was to consider “How can Army make the best use of the Reserves in the future?”, the outcomes of the conference were:

· Understanding of the potential capability contribution from the Reserve, as part of the total Army.

· The direction and planning guidance to Army staff to enable further analysis of potential roles and tasks for the Reserves.

(3) Individual reservists on full time service have been used and will continue to be used to meet manning requirements within Regular Army units, as well as to augment units that have been deployed on operations. Reservists on periods of full time service are also utilised to fill temporary vacancies and to participate in various projects in units and headquarters in Australia. There are currently 119 officers and 411 other ranks on full time service. The proposed future contribution by Reserves also requires a contribution to the generation and sustainment of rotation forces.

(4) No commitment has been made to deploy Army Reserve units. Under current legislation, reserve units and formations cannot be called out on operations, except in circumstances of defence of Australia. Individual reservists may volunteer for periods of full time service. For example, when 6 RAR deployed on operation in East Timor, positions in the unit were filled by individual volunteer Reservists from units throughout Australia. It is also of note that the current staff rotation of the UN Military Hospital in East Timor is comprised of individual volunteers from several medical units. Although as many as 55 volunteers on full time service are from the same medical unit based in Adelaide, the unit itself did not deploy.

(5) A number of studies are currently under way into the utilisation of the Army Reserve as part of the total force structure, including the study into the Roles and Tasks of the Reserves. These studies will inform the implementation of the Defence White Paper.

(a) A number of studies and papers have been completed, including:

· A study into Sustainability of the Reserve Component of the Enhanced Combat Force, completed in December 1998, and

· “Sustaining Today - Mobilising Tomorrow, A Strategic Rationale for the Army Reserve of the 21st Century”, a paper completed in July 1999.

(b) The documents are classified, and are therefore not publicly available.

(6) There have been no changes to the readiness requirements of the Army Reserve since the release of the Defence White Paper. Readiness requirements may change in the future to meet operational requirements.

(7) There have been no increases in the training requirements of the Army Reserve since the release of the Defence White Paper. There have been increases in the training requirements of individual reservists as a result of the introduction of competency based training and assessment (CBTA). Defence has accepted and is incorporating the principles of CBTA in accordance with the National Training Framework (NTF) guidelines and the Australian National Training Authority standards for the development of competencies. CBTA aims to deliver learning outcomes that produce workplace competent and job ready personnel. Under the NTF and CBTA guidelines, workers employed in a common workplace must have the same competencies. For Army, this means that both Regular (full-time) and Reserve (part-time) recruits should be trained in the same competencies.