Its original purpose was home defence although the establishment of the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve in 1967 involved a restructuring and revised doctrine leading to provision of routine support for the Regular army overseas. Reservists in the past also served as constables or bailiffs, even holding positions of civic duty as overseer of their parish. The more modern Yeomen of the 18th century were cavalry based units, which were often used to suppress riots, such as the infamous Peterloo Massacre. Modern Territorial soldiers, or Territorials, are volunteers who undergo military training in their spare time either as part of a formed local unit or as specialists in a professional field. TA members have a minimum commitment to serve 27 training days per annum, with specialists only required to serve 19 days, which normally includes a two-week annual camp. As a volunteer military reserve raised from local civilians, the TA may be considered a militia and several units bear the title "militia" , although historically, the British official term Militia designated a specific force, distinct from the Volunteers and the Yeomanry.
Territorials normally have a full-time job or career, which in some cases provides skills and expertise that are directly transferable to a specialist military role, such as NHS employees serving in TA Army Medical Services units. All Territorial personnel have their civilian jobs protected to a limited extent by law should they be compulsorily mobilised. There is however no legal protection against discrimination in employment for membership of the TA in the normal course of events (i.e. when not mobilised). There are currently approximately 34,000 serving members in the TA, although it has a target established strength of 42,000. The Regular Army Reserve has approximately 32,060 members. The current highest ranking Territorial is Major General Simon Lalor TD (late HAC) who succeeded Major General The Duke of Westminster TD (late Queen's Own Yeomanry) as Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Reserves and Cadets). The annual budget of the Territorial Army is approximately £350 million – around 1.3% of the total defence budget .
The Territorial Army was created in 1908 by the Secretary of State for War, Richard Haldane, when the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 combined the previously civilian-administered Volunteer Force, with the Militia and Yeomanry. Most Volunteer infantry units had unique identities, but lost these in the reorganisation, becoming Territorial battalions of Regular Army infantry regiments. Some, notably the London Regiment, Glasgow Highlanders and Liverpool Scottish maintained a separate identity.
The Territorial Force was originally formed by the Secretary of State for War, Richard Burdon Haldane, following the enactment of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 which combined and re-organised the old Volunteer Army with the remaining units of militia and yeomanry. The TF was formed on 1 April 1908 and contained 14 infantry divisions, and 14 mounted yeomanry brigades. It had an overall strength of approximately 269,000.
The individual units that made up each division or brigade were administered by County Associations, with the county's lord lieutenant as president. The other members of the association consisted of military members (chosen from the commanding officers of the units), representative members (nominated by the county councils and county boroughs in the lieutenancy county) and co-opted members (often retired military officers). Associations took over any property vested in the volunteers or yeomanry under their administration. Each regiment or battalion had a regular army officer attached as full-time adjutant.
The use of the word territorial signified that the volunteers who served with the force were under no obligation to serve overseas — in 1910, when asked to nominate for Imperial Service overseas in the event of mobilisation, less than 10% of the Force chose to do so. In August 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, Territorial units were given the option of serving in France and by 25 August in excess of 70 battalions had volunteered. This question over the availability of Territorial divisions for overseas service was one of Lord Kitchener's motivations for raising the New Army separately.
Territorial formations initially saw service in Egypt and India and other Empire garrisons such as Gibraltar, thereby releasing regular units for service in France and enabling the formation of an additional five regular army divisions (for a total of eleven) by early 1915. Several reserve units were also deployed with regular formations and the first Territorial unit to see action on the Western Front was the Glasgow Territorial Signallers Group, Royal Engineers at the First Battle of Ypres on 11 October 1914. The first fully Territorial division to join the fighting on the Western Front was the 46th Division in March 1915, with divisions later serving in Gallipoli and elsewhere. As the war progressed and casualties mounted, the distinctive character of Territorial units was diluted by the inclusion of conscript and New Army drafts. Following the Armistice all units of the Territorial Force were gradually disbanded.
On 29 March 1939 it was announced that the size of the TA was to be doubled by the reforming of the 2nd line units. The total strength of the TA was to be 440,000: the field force of the Territorial Army was to rise from 130,000 to 340,000, organised in 26 divisions while an additional 100,000 all ranks would form the anti-aircraft section. When the 2nd Line was reformed they were a little different from their WWI predecessors. They had slightly different names and the regiments assigned were different. After VJ Day in August 1945, the Territorial Army was significantly downsized with all 2nd Line and several 1st Line Divisions once again disbanded.
In 1947, the TA was restructured and expanded, through the reactivation of some of the 1st Line divisions that were initially disbanded after the war, keeping its former role of supplying complete divisions to the regular Army until 1967. For the first time, TA units were formed in Northern Ireland. The manoeuvre divisions established or re-established in 1947 were:
The Territorials also provided much of the anti-aircraft cover for the United Kingdom until 1956. In that year Anti-Aircraft Command and 15 anti-aircraft regiments of the Royal Artillery were disbanded, with nine others passing into "suspended animation" as new Surface to Air Missile units replaced them. The territorial units of the Royal Armoured Corps were also reduced in number to nine armoured regiments and eleven reconnaissance regiments. This was effected by amalgamation of pairs of regiments, and the conversion of four RAC units to an infantry role. At the same time, the 16th Airborne Division was reduced to in size to become the 44th Independent Parachute Brigade Group.
British forces contracted dramatically as the end of conscription in 1960 came in sight as announced in the 1957 Defence White Paper. On 20 July 1960 a reorganisation of the TA was announced in the House of Commons. The Territorials were to be reduced from 266 fighting units to 195. There was to be a reduction of 46 regiments of the Royal Artillery, 18 battalions of infantry, 12 regiments of the Royal Engineers and 2 regiments of the Royal Corps of Signals. The reductions were carried out in 1961, mainly by amalgamation of units.
This was followed by complete reorganisation announced in the 1966 Defence White Paper from 1 April 1967 when the title Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve (TAVR) was adopted which abolished the former regimental and divisional structure of the TA. Units in the new TAVR were divided into four categories:
TAVR I and II units were known as "Volunteers", and those in TAVR III as "Territorials". These terms were often incorporated into the unit titles.
The TAVR III was disbanded in 1969, with the units being reduced to eight-man "cadres". The cadres became part of a "sponsoring" TAVR II unit, although continuing to wear the badges and perpetuating the traditions of their forebears. An increase in the size of the TAVR in 1971 lead to the formation of a number of battalions based on these cadres.
In 1979 the Territorial Army title was restored, and in the following years its size was somewhat increased, with the regimental system being progressively reinstated. Although due to its decreased established size, Brigades rather than Divisions were used at a manoeuvre formation level.
The TA was thus re-roled into its modern form. Instead of supplying complete combat divisions, its function was to round out regular formations by supplying units of up to battalion size (including infantry, light artillery and formation reconnaissance), and to supply extra support functions such as engineers, medical units and military police.
After the Strategic Defence Review of 1998, the TA's size of around 56,200 was further reduced. The Infantry suffered most, with 87 companies in 33 battalions reducing to 67 companies in 15 battalions. As of 2006 the Territorial Army has an authorised strength of 42,000 though recruiting difficulties put the actual strength of the TA below that figure (manning is currently at approx 82% which equates to 34,000). Units also have attached Regular Army personnel from their affiliated Corps or Regiment who assist with training and administration and tend to fill the roles of Adjutant and Regimental Sergeant Major, as well as Permanent Staff Instructors in every Squadron or Company.
TA soldiers have seen service in a number of conflicts that the UK has been involved with since 1945. However, they served in particularly large numbers in two conflicts. The Korean War and Suez Crisis, which were during the 1950s when the entire TA was called up. Throughout the Cold War however, the Territorial Army was never regarded as a particularly usable force overseas, either by the Government of the day or by the Regular Army. This was due to the fact that the entire Territorial Army had to be mobilised by Royal Prerogative in a wartime scenario, as occurred in the World Wars, with no flexibility to use smaller formations or specialists if required and as a result relied purely on Territorials willing to volunteer their services. Therefore, its role was, at least unofficially, seen as home defence and as a result the TA was not used in conflicts such as the 1982 Falklands War and 1991 Gulf War (205 Scottish General Hospital were mobilised as a unit based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during the 1991 Gulf War). However, the Government passed the Reserve Forces Act 1996 , which enables individual TA personnel to be compulsorily called up for deployment, with certain caveats exempting those in full-time education and other compassionate reasons, as well as providing protection by employment law for members' civilian jobs should they be mobilised, which has led to the TA increasingly providing routine support for the Regular army overseas.
In 2003, 9,500 reservists, the vast majority of them from the TA, were mobilised to take part in Operation Telic, the invasion of Iraq, in contrast only some 420 Regular Reservists were called-up. Approximately 1,200 members of the TA continue to deploy annually on tours of duty in Iraq, Operation Herrick in Afghanistan and elsewhere, normally on 6 month-long Roulements. They cannot be used in operations for more than 12 months in any three-year period - making most of those who have already served ineligible for call up for two years afterwards. However given the relatively-small size of the Regular British Army, coupled with the current high rate of operational deployments, it is inconceivable that the TA will not see further extensive overseas service during the remainder of the early part of the 21st century.
Most units of the Territorial Army are organised into Regional Brigades for administrative and training purposes, dependent upon their geographic location within the United Kingdom. Exceptions include the Army Medical Services and UKSF(R). The Brigades also co-ordinate Civil Contingency Reaction Forces (CCRF) in their respective regions, which are organised to provide support to the emergency services if required :
11 Signal Brigade Units:
2 Medical Brigade Units:
Pipes and Drums
For TA soldiers, recruit training is structured into two phases. In Phase 1, recruits initially undergo a series of 8 training weekends at Regional Training Centres (RTCs) that culminates in the Common Military Syllabus (Recruit) (CMS(R)) Course, which for TA Soldiers lasts two weeks (as opposed to fourteen weeks for regular army recruits), normally held at an Army Training Regiment. This is followed by Phase 2, a further period of specialist training specific to the type of unit the recruit is joining, for example the two week Combat Infantryman's Course (CIC) held at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick.
Many TA officers initially serve in the ranks. For the minority that enter direct under the Direct Entry TA Potential Officer (DETAPO) system training is structured into five modules, which together form the Territorial Army Commissioning Course (TACC), those who initially serve in the ranks undertake only the latter four modules.
Module 1 is the same as the Common Military Syllabus (Recruit) course, with many Officers initially serving a period of time as Soldiers.
Module 2 covers lessons in Tactics, Leadership, Doctrine and Navigation are taught and a further series of selection and aptitude tests are undertaken, usually spread over 10 weekends, this also includes passing The Army Officer Selection Board.
Module 4. Passing the AOSB and Module 3 then enables Potential Officers to attend an intensive 3 week Assessment at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, which forms Module 4.
Module 5 again run at an RTC, over 3 weekends (4 weekends for ex-UOTC candidates) covers post commissioning training.