Plans to reform the British Army risk being undermined by low numbers of Territorial Army officers, the chairman of the Northamptonshire reserve forces committee has warned.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Blomfield, who is county chairman of the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association, said he was concerned the shortfall might affect plans to increase the proportion of British part-time soldiers, which is part of a Government restructure.
The judge and retired TA officer, who served in Bosnia, said: “I’m concerned that TA units in the county are currently experiencing a significant shortage of officers and in particular junior officers.
“If we are to achieve the aim of creating an effective reserve army of 30,000 men and women, we must be in a position to create a strong officer corps to provide the leadership.
“It has the possibility of undermining the Government’s plans to reform the British Army.”
Colonel Blomfield said a fundamental change in young people’s lifestyles was part of the problem.
But he added: “There are other factors in play, not least the willingness of employers to embrace the current need to provide support. I readily acknowledge that many larger companies are already providing that support, but it’s small to medium-sized organisations that struggle to follow suit.”
Colonel Blomfield said he hoped smaller firms will be provided with Government assistance or incentives to allow them to encourage their staff to join, or continue in, the TA.
Lt Col Blomfield said he was pleased the Ministry of Defence was starting a national recruiting campaign this month. He said: “My message to any young person who is thinking about the possibility of applying for a commission is that the Territorial Army provides the opportunity, not only to enjoy a second career, but also to learn about leadership and to pursue a very worthwhile and fulfilling interest.” Anyone interested in joining can contact the careers office on Northampton 633318.