Why do we need armed forces? What do they do?

The purpose of the Ministry of Defence, and the Armed Forces, is to:

  • defend the United Kingdom, and Overseas Territories, our people and interests;
  • act as a force for good by strengthening international peace and security.

To achieve this, we:

  • make a vital contribution to Britain’s security policy and its promotion at home and abroad;
  • direct and provide a defence effort that meets the needs of the present, prepares for the future and insures against the unpredictable;
  • generate modern, battle-winning forces and other defence capabilities to help:
    1. prevent conflicts and build stability;
    2. resolve crises and respond to emergencies;
    3. protect and further UK interests;
    4. meet our commitments and responsibilities;
    5. work with Allies and partners to strengthen international security relationships

Royal Naval Reserve – FAQs www.royalnavy.mod.uk/our-organisation/maritime-reserves/royal-naval-reserve


The Army Reserve (formerly known as the Territorial Army)

Q. What does the Army Reserve do? 
A. The AR is a fully functioning part of the British Army, playing a vital role in the nation’s defence and peacekeeping operations, both at home and abroad. It is staffed by part-time, voluntary personnel, but still represents one quarter of the Army’s total capability.

Q. What is the relationship between the Army Reserve and the Regular Army? 
A. Since the Strategic Defence Review of 2010, the Army Reserve has become a more relevant and usable part of the Army than ever before. The two are becoming increasingly integrated, which is generating a healthy mutual respect.

Q. Are there prospects of promotion?
A. Of course. It depends entirely on your own work and enthusiasm. We encourage ambition if you want to move up the ranks, right up to being commissioned as an officer. A Commission on entry is also possible for qualified engineers with leadership potential.

Q. Where will I have to train?
A. In most cases, initial training takes place at your chosen unit. After that, further training and service could be anywhere in the UK, or even abroad.

Q Supposing there’s a national emergency?
A. This is the liability to call-out on a King’s Order in the event of an emergency that could affect our national security. In certain circumstances, the Secretary of State can also authorise call-out for peacekeeping, humanitarian or disaster relief operations, but not for civil disorder in the UK.

Eligibility FAQs

Q. Am I too old or too young to join? 
A. You need to be at least 17 years and 9 months old when you apply. You can apply to join the Army until the day before your 50th birthday (for Reserve Soldier) and 48 years and 9 months for Officer roles. There are higher age limits for some specialist roles, and ex-Regular Rejoiners. Check the full criteria.

Q. What if I have a criminal record? 
A. This depends on what the conviction was for, how long ago it was and so on. Ask your local Army Reserve unit about how it will affect your application.

Q. Do I need any qualifications to join? 
A. There is no minimum academic standard required to join the Army Reserve. If you would like to join a Specialist Unit or the Army Medical Services, then you will normally need relevant specialist skills and qualifications. Individual requirements can be found under each trade section.

Q. Do I have to be British to join? 
A. You need to have been a citizen of the UK, a Commonwealth country or the Republic of Ireland at all times since birth and should normally have lived in the UK for at least five years, preferably immediately prior to any application to join you make.

Pay and Benefits

Q. How much will I get paid for training? 
A. You will be paid at the same basic daily rate as soldiers of your rank in the Regular Army. The exact amount you will receive also depends on your particular trade and type of commitment.

Q. What is the Annual Bounty? 
A. In addition to your basic pay you will also receive an Annual Bounty tax-free lump sum paid out on completion of your minimum training requirement (including passing basic military tests). The amount of your bounty will vary according to your unit, commitment and experience, but it normally starts at £526 in your first year rising to £2,084 after five years satisfactory service.

Q. Will I have the opportunity for foreign travel? 
A. In recent years, members of the Army Reserve have travelled all over the world on operational tours, exercises and adventurous training. However, while there are opportunities to travel, this shouldn’t be your primary reason for joining the Army Reserve. We can’t guarantee that you will get that chance.

Q. Is the Army Reserve a particularly social organisation? 
A. Yes, very much so. You will find plenty of opportunities to let your hair down with your colleagues, from formal balls to informal parties and barbecues.

Q. Will being in the Army Reserve improve my employability? 
A. It will undoubtedly give you that chance. Many of the skills and qualities you will get from training in the AR, such as negotiation, teamworking, communication, leadership, management and confidence, are transferable across all jobs and work places. In addition you will have the chance to develop specific skills and earn certain qualifications that may be relevant to how you carry out your civilian work.

Training and Fitness

Q. When and how will I train?
A. AR training takes place during regular weekend exercises and two-week annual training camps and trade courses.

Q. Do I have to be very fit? 
A. You don’t need to be a gifted athlete to cope with the demands of Army Reserve training. However, you do need a certain basic level of good health and fitness and, more importantly, the willingness to improve by taking part in our graduated fitness programme. An official fitness programme can be provided in advance of your attending a selection weekend.

Q. Can you recommend a training programme? 
A. You can obtain a tailored programme online at www.armyfit.mod.uk

Q. What will I learn in the way of skills and qualifications? 
A. AR training will give you the opportunity to develop a wealth of practical trade skills relevant to both your civilian and Army Reserve jobs. In many cases this can result in the award of recognisable civilian qualifications. You will of course also develop less tangible qualities such as confidence and leadership, which are equally applicable to your professional and personal lives.

Q. Why does the Army Reserve train its members in adventurous training activities? 
A. While it may look like the perfect excuse to have fun, activities such as climbing, skiing, football, abseiling and canoeing have a serious side too. We believe that they are ideal ways of developing fitness, team-working skills and confidence, making them perfect complements to the more military aspect of Army Reserve training.

Commitment and Mobilisation

Q. How much time do I have to commit to the Army Reserve? 
A. The Army is aware of other commitments in your life and as such is prepared to be flexible in its demands on your time. Generally speaking, if you are a member of an independent unit you need to complete 27 days, which includes 2 weeks annual camp and weekly training evenings. In a Specialist Unit you only need to put in 21 days in your first year, 19 days annually thereafter. You can of course do a lot more than this as your preferences and circumstances allow.

Q. Can I leave at any time? 
A. When you first join you sign on for three years. You can apply to leave at any time during this period and after but we strongly recommend that you think carefully about your level of determination and commitment before applying to join.

Q. Could I be mobilised? 
A. By joining the Army Reserve you indicate that you are prepared to take part in active service, whatever its nature, and there are circumstances under which you may be compulsorily mobilised.

Employer issues

Q. Should I inform my employer if I’m thinking of joining the Army Reserve? 
A. Check your contract of employment to ensure it does not specify any preclusion to secondary employment, and, if there is none, notify your employer of your intent to join, or at least when you have joined, the Reserve Forces. It is a mandatory requirement of Service that your employer is notified on at least an annual basis by your Unit’s Commanding Officer, and they will certainly be notified if you are ever mobilised, so it is best for all three parties (you, your employer and your Unit) if your employer is aware and supportive. They stand to gain almost as much out of your training as you do, and you may need to ask for the occasional extra holiday to meet your training commitments.

Q. If I am called up, will my civilian job be protected? 
A. If you are compulsorily mobilised, there are procedures for you to follow to protect your job. If you volunteer for an attachment to the regular army then this will usually be in agreement with your employer. Under the Reserve Forces Act 1996, in the event of mobilisation, employers and employees have the right to seek exemption or deferral in certain circumstances

Q. What if I earn more in my civilian job than in the Army Reserve? Will I receive compensation? 
A. If we take you away from a civilian job that pays more, we will top up your military salary within predetermined limits. If this proves insufficient, and you can demonstrate hardship, you can apply for further increases.

Q. As an employer, why should I support my employees joining the Army Reserve?
A. The Army Reserve could not fulfil the important role it does without the support of its members’ employers. Far from ‘losing’ their staff to the Army, employers find that they stand to gain as much from the arrangement as the individual, the Army Reserve.

Q. What benefits will my business gain from Army Reserve trained employees?
A. AR trained employees are widely regarded as being more committed, dependable, confident and responsible in the workplace. Some may require a little extra time off to fulfil training commitments, the reward the employer with additional communication, teamworking, problem solving and managerial skills.

Q. How can I find out more about employers relations with the Reserve Forces.
A. Everything you need to know about the triangular relationship between the AR, its members and their employers – including the rights and responsibilities of all parties under the Reserve Forces Act 1996 – is on the Government website.

Officer Training Corps

Q. If I join the OTC, will I be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan?
A. Not at all. All OTC officer cadets are a group B enlistment, which means they have absolutely no obligation to be deployed.

Q. What kind of commitment is expected of me when I join the OTC? 
A. You are expected to commit to attending drill nights once a week in the evening, at least one weekend a month and a 15 day annual camp each summer.
We do understand however, that your degree comes first.

Q. I don’t have any military experience, can I still join?
A. Yes absolutely. You need no prior military experience to join the OTC.

Q. How much will I get paid?
A. As a first year officer cadet, you are entitled to £45.77 per day. On top of this, and provided that you complete all the prerequisites, you are entitled to a tax free bounty at the end of the year.
After passing second year exams, the rate of pay goes up to £54.18. As well as pay for military duties, it is possible to be paid for adventure training and travel overseas.

Army Cadet Force www.armycadets.com/about/faqs.aspx

Q. What age must I be to join the Army Cadet Force? 
A. You need to be at least aged 12 to join the cadets.

Q. Does it mean I have to join the Army afterwards: 
A. Absolutely not. The Army Cadet Force is sponsored by the Army and uses much of their equipment and facilities, but there is absolutely no obligation to join any of the armed services at any time. You can also leave the Army Cadet Force at any time

Q. How old do I have to be in order to become an adult instructor in the Army Cadet Force? 
A. If you are aged between 18 and 60 years then you can join as an adult instructor.

Q. Do I need previous military experience? 
A. You do not need any previous military experience to join as an adult instructor. Many of our instructors are ex-cadets themselves, or have served in the military, but we also have many that joined with no previous military background at all. We will provide you with all the training you need to become an effective instructor.

Q. Could I be called up for active service? 
A. No you can’t. Whether you are an adult instructor or officer in the Army Cadet Force, you have no active service liability whatsoever and cannot be called up for any type of Army service.

Q. Will I be paid for my time? 
A. The Army Cadet Force is a volunteer organisation dedicated to developing young people to enable them to be good citizens. Your time is provided on voluntary basis. We do however pay you for certain events such as your training courses or annual camp. This will be paid at different levels dependent upon your rank within the organisation. We would also cover such out-of-pocket expenses as travel.

Q. Do I wear a uniform? 
A. On joining the Army Cadet Force as an instructor you would be issued with a uniform and any equipment necessary to carry out your duties.

Q. What is the time commitment? 
A. As a minimum you would be expected to parade one or two evenings a week at your local detachment to help with training cadets. On top of that there are about four weekend training events and a two-week annual camp each year, which we hope you can be there for. There is a lot more available for those with more time on their hands in terms of weekends away, but this will depend on your county and availability.

Q. What opportunities exist for personal development? 
A. There are many ways you can develop yourself personally in the Army Cadet Force. Our adult training courses are designed in such a way as to help you develop new skills and many are recognised with external civilian qualifications from examining bodies such as EDEXCEL, Institute of Leadership & Management and City & Guilds. These qualifications are available for adult instructors wishing to pursue them up to graduate level. There are also many other learning opportunities, which could see you become a qualified instructor in hill walking, kayaking, canoeing, caving, skiing, climbing, signalling, first aid and much, much more.

Reserve Forces