The steering committee, established to oversee the value for money review of the reserve, met most recently on the 19 September and is working towards completing the review by the end of this month. The steering committee commenced its work in February 2010, and in the intervening period other priorities, such as undertaking the comprehensive review of expenditure, diverted analytical resources away from the value for money review. In this context, the review has taken longer than anticipated. However, in practical terms, the development of proposals for the reserve would have been premature in advance of the outcome of the comprehensive review of expenditure. Arising from the comprehensive review of expenditure, the Government stabilised the strength ceiling of the Permanent Defence Force at 9,500 personnel and a major re-organisation of the Permanent Defence Force was initiated. This encompasses a reduction in the number of army brigades from the current three to two. As part of the re-organisation, Permanent Defence Force personnel are being re-deployed from administrative and support tasks to operational units. As part of this process, the number of Permanent Defence Force personnel available to work full time with the Army reserve, known as the Permanent Defence Force cadre, is being reduced to 24 in each Army brigade - 48 in total - and additional support will be available to the reserve from within Permanent Defence Force units.
The steering committee undertaking the value for money review of the reserve must have due regard to the revised Permanent Defence Force organisational structures and available resource envelope when framing its recommendations. Any recommendations regarding the reserve organisation must dovetail with the new Permanent Defence Force organisational structures.
Recently there has been speculation that the reserve was being disbanded. This is unhelpful and unwarranted as there have been repeated assurances that no decisions have been made regarding the future development of the reserve pending the completion of the value for money report. I confirm that this remains the position.