Defence Command Paper outlines plans to modernise the Reserve Forces and the Defence Estate

The Government published a Defence Command Paper, Defence in a Competitive Age, on 22 March 2021.

The Defence Command Paper follows the publication of the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy: Global Britain in a Competitive Age on 16 March 2021. The Integrated Review provides a strategic threat assessment and identifies the UK’s foreign policy priorities, whereas the Defence Command Paper focuses on the Defence aspect and outlines plans to modernise the Armed Forces.

With regards to the Reserve Forces, the Defence Command Paper states:

  • “Give new, more clearly defined roles to our Reserve Forces.They will provide capacity, alongside their regular and civilian colleagues, and an alternative source of diverse talent to conduct operations at home and abroad.”
  • “Improve the way we recruit and employ reserves, enabling us to bring expertise from across society, government, industry and academia to bear on some of the greatest challenges we face.”
  • “Through a more productive integration of the Reserves, increased lethality of weapon systems and survivability of platforms, and a specialised workforce fit for the digital age, the Army will continue to be world-class. “
  • “The new £11m Royal Maritime Reserve centre in Cardiff will provide opportunities to expand the Royal Navy’s presence. “

While there are no specific targets for the number of reservists expected to be employed in the Armed Forces set within the Defence Command Paper, the report does specify the Army’s overall size is to be reduced to 72,500 personnel, lowering the previous target of 82,000 set in the SDSR15. 

With regards to the Defence Estate, the Defence Command Paper states:

  • “We will be in the vanguard for contributing to achieving HMG’s legal commitment of Net Zero emissions by 2050.”
  • “We will seek to reduce our impact on the environment and seize opportunities to embed sustainability considerations into every part of Defence from infrastructure and estates, to contracting, culture, equipment and operating practices; all supported by technology.”
  • “We will enhance our resilience while reducing the size of the estate, consolidating our asset base and continuing to maintain a safe and compliant estate.”
  • “The Defence Estate Optimisation (DEO) Portfolio will modernise infrastructure and increase efficiency in estates management over the next 25 years. £4.3bn will be invested over the next decade in this programme, ensuring that we build back better, faster and greener.”
  • “The MOD has responsibility for approximately 1% of the UK’s landmass in its estates, primarily used for training purposes.”
  • “Emissions from infrastructure make up approximately 30% of the baseline emissions for Defence. The DEO Programme.”

Back in 2018, the Defence Secretary launched the Modernising Defence Programme, a spin-off of the Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2015 (SDSR15) in response to evolved international threats. The Cabinet Office released the second SDSR 15 Review with the National Security Capability Review in the same year. The latter included clear targets for the number of Reservists, Cadets and modifications to the Defence Estate, while the former included considerations for attracting Reservists who hold specialist skills developed in the private sector and the corresponding importance of building relationships with business. 

Subsequently, last summer, the Ministry of Defence launched ‘The Reserve Forces 2030: A Review of the Reserve Service’, with a view to maximising the skills of the Reserves Forces to support wider society, and establish better collaboration with businesses, government and the private sector in order to help with cost, skills and expertise sharing. Further analysis of the Defence Command Paper and the Integrated Review will be available from the House of Commons Library.

East Anglia RFCA is responsible for the upkeep, maintenance and management of the Army Reserves and Cadet buildings in East Anglia, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. In this area, we draw on our in-depth knowledge of the facilities and how they are used, to deliver highly cost effective maintenance and development projects.

Our Estate & Supplies services to the Defence Infrastructure Organisation include:

  • Statutory and mandatory annual inspections.
  • Essential maintenance and repair.
  • Lease negotiations and assessments.
  • Health and safety compliance of all assets.
  • Associated audit assurance.
  • Utilities and energy management & billing.
  • Grounds maintenance.
  • Waste disposal.
Scroll to Top