- Reaction score
I think that you are bang on with your assessment. I've always felt that we should hit the "school and a bit" crowd with as much training and opportunity as we can while we can to get them to get them as fully qualified as possible while they are accessible. They can afford to take a gap year if necessary to make some money and see the world. We should be subsidizing their education as much as possible to keep them bought in.My observation from 14 years in the army reserve in an urban regiment was that we had generally three categories of troops:
1. The dabblers, who would give it a whirl, finish basic, do maybe a year to a year and a half in the company, then get out.
2. The “School and a bit” crowd who would join either late in high school or early in college/university, and get out within a couple years of graduating once life got busy. Call it 5-7 years.
3. The “Long haulers” who would stick it out into their professional adult lives for as long as they’re able.
Anecdotally, most of us who deployed were younger- Cpl/MCpl. Most of us were either taking a break from or done school, or were not yet settled into a career or a marriage. There were of course plenty of exceptions, but generally very few would deploy in their first decade of a professional career. There were also quite a few who were living the Class B life.
May - August is the big window for students, of course- shorter stuff is easily fit in there, and the FTSE targets this window. For a full deployment though, we’re talking a year and a half to two years. In my case I took two years off after my second year of university. That was a year of workup then six months in theatre. Arguably, our pre deployment time was quite inefficient. We could have done the real work in maybe 6 or 7 months inclusive of our month in Ft Bliss and our month in Wainwright- both of which were also inefficient for my platoon. We sat on our thumbs a lot.
There will always be a lot of young reservists who don’t really have much direction in life yet who will happily grab a tour of any length. For anything lengthy, good NCOs in particular will be harder.
It's at that 5-7 year point that they settle down and have a family and a job and competing interests. To keep them on as "long haulers" (and we need quite a few of those if we ever want to have a force that can mobilize if needed) we need to make ongoing commitments both as easy and as meaningful as possible. I've always believed in making unit Class A training as just one weekend a month and a couple of weeks in the summer but making those really good events (to make them desirable if not obligatory).
That leads to one conclusion that the regular force doesn't want to face. You can't expect the bulk of the "long haulers" to be the trainers of the "school and a bit" crowd. Much of your summer training has to be conducted by the regular force. And therein lies the problem.