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‘The Evolution of the Armed Forces’ Employer Engagement’

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The purpose of the 2022 conference was to fulfil employers’ growing interest in the Ministry of Defence’s key strategic announcements of 2021: the Integrated Review, the associated Defence Command Paper, the Defence & Security Industrial Strategy and the Reserve Forces 2030 Review.

All of these strengthen and underpin Defence’s Whole Force operating model which demands a continued and sustained close relationship with all UK employers.

Partnering with Defence conference 2022 highlights

Chief of Defence People Lieutenant General James Swift opened the 2022 Partnering with Defence Conference on Thursday 10 March by highlighting how the event was an opportunity to re-invigorate and build new connections after two years of virtual living. He thanked Reservists for all their support to the COVID operations and employers for enabling this to happen. This had highlighted the continued need for Reserves as part of the Regular Forces and the need to help them manage their families, their personnel lives and their employers.

The morning session focused on Reserve Forces 30 (RF30) starting with Adrian Dotteridge, Director of People Transformation at the Ministry of Defence. Although the team are at the beginning of conversations with employers Adrian summarised the aims and ambitions of RF30. These include the need for the right number of the right kind of people with the right skills and ensuring that Reserves are truly integrated into the Regulars. Reserves are a critical component of the response to international Defence and Security but Defence needs to better explain the skills that Reservists gain from their time in the Armed Forces.

If you cannot watch the below Youtube video containing the RF30 presentation, please open the following link on a different device: https://youtu.be/UmfDNn5xDYU

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Commodore Mel Robinson then presented the Royal Navy’s vision saying that Reserves were at the heart of a global Navy and an inclusive culture encourages people to be the best they can be. Working with the RF30 team they want to find innovative approaches to terms of service and seek employers input and guidance on what works best. Employers need to support Reservists in their career and help to move them from generalists to specialists.

If you cannot watch the below Youtube video containing the Royal Navy’s presentation, please open the following link on a different device: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6aFNkdk_s8

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The British Army do not believe in Reserves and Regulars and instead look at the ‘Whole Force’, of which Reserves make up one third said Brigadier Marc Overton (who will become the next Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff for Reserves and Cadets). He went on to say that the Army’s primary role is war fighting with it becoming more deployable overseas Reserves will be tasked to support the homeland resilient tasks. It was not about taking up more of a Reservists time, said Marc, but about using their resource in a smarter way.

If you cannot watch the below Youtube video containing the British Army’s presentation, please open the following link on a different device: https://youtu.be/5Xf63MVPCWo

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Air Commodore Gavin Hellard presented on behalf of the Royal Air Force saying that over 700 Reservists from the RAF had been mobilised in 2021. Air Regional Employer Engagement Officers had also been created to help better understand the different needs of different employers and Reservists. This will enable them to get the best use out of both their Reservists and people as, although they are getting good utilisation of Reserves, the RAF believes that this can be improved.

If you cannot watch the below Youtube video containing the British Army’s presentation, please open the following link on a different device: https://youtu.be/XLVVSuyBEX0

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The morning presentations were followed by two breakout sessions – ‘What is the Future of Employer Support to Reserve Forces?’ and ‘What do you want from Defence in relation to your sector/organisation?’.

Panellists included representatives from all three of single Services as well as members of the Gold Award Association.

The sessions were followed by the Keynote speaker – explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes – who spoke about his life including his military career and his expeditions, particularly the Transglobe Expedition.

Major General Simon Brooks-Ward, Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff for Reserves & Cadets, closed the conference by first pointing out how much of a hard act to follow Sir Ranulph Fiennes was. He thanked all those in attendance for their continued support to Defence and especially to Reserves as, without supportive employers, there would be no Reservists.

Reserve Forces 2030

The Reserve Forces Review 2030 was commissioned by the Chief of the Defence Staff. The report published in 2021 offered 18 recommendations for consideration, in four key areas:

  • Re-defining the Reserves’ relationship with society, recognising the need to cooperate and share expertise with, for instance, industry and academia.
  • Expanding the role of the Reserves as part of an integrated joint force, helping deliver ‘active’ tasks – such as homeland resilience and defence diplomacy – whilst preserving and enhancing their assured capability to meet ‘contingent’ tasks such as war fighting.
  • Ways to unlock the full potential of the Reserve component of the UK’s armed forces, such as simplifying commitment types.
  • Transforming how the Reserves are supported to deliver their mission, recognising the unique needs of the force and with a strong emphasis on digital enablement.
Reserve Forces Review 2030
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Integrated Review

The Integrated Review outlines three fundamental national interests that bind together the citizens of the UK – sovereignty, security and prosperity – alongside the values of democracy and a commitment to universal human rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and faith, and equality. It sets out four overarching objectives:

  • Sustaining strategic advantage through science and technology, incorporating it as an integral element of national security and international policy to firmly establish the UK as a global S&T and responsible cyber power. This will be essential in gaining economic, political and security advantages.
  • Shaping the open international order of the future, working with partners to reinvigorate the international institutions, laws and norms that enable open societies and economies such as the UK to flourish. This will help our citizens and others around the world realise the full benefits of democracy, free trade and international cooperation – not least in the future frontiers of cyberspace and space.
  • Strengthening security and defence at home and overseas, working with allies and partners to help us to maximise the benefits of openness and protect our people, in the physical world and online, against a range of growing threats. These include state threats, radicalisation and terrorism, serious and organised crime, and weapons proliferation.
  • Building resilience at home and overseas, improving our ability to anticipate, prevent, prepare for and respond to risks ranging from extreme weather to cyber-attacks. This will also involve tackling risks at source – in particular climate change and biodiversity loss.
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Defence Command Paper

The Defence Command Paper sets out what the Integrated Review means for Defence.

The release of the Defence Command Paper (DCP) marks the beginning of a significant and far-reaching evolution in how defence is equipped and operates.

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Defence and Security Industrial Strategy

The Defence and Security Industrial Strategy provides the framework for government to work with industry to achieve those ambitions; driving innovation and improvements in productivity to ensure that the UK continues to have competitive, innovative and world-class defence and security industries that underpin our national security and drive prosperity and growth across the UK.

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