Defence reform a challenge, minister admits

Building up the Territorial Army to offset the cuts to regular troops will be a "challenge", the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, acknowledged yesterday.

Under plans announced last week, the number of part-time "weekend warriors" is set to double to 30,000 while the regular Army is slashed by 20,000 to 82,000. Giving evidence to the Commons Defence Committee, Mr Hammond said they were going to have to find new ways to encourage employers to release staff for duty with the reserves if the plan was to succeed.

"It is a challenge, we recognise that it is a challenge. The people in charge of this project are confident that they can do it but they don't underestimate the scale of the challenge," he said.

"Where we, I think, are going to have to do a lot more imaginative thinking is about how we engage with small and medium employers."

Mr Hammond also said that they would have to make service with the Territorial Army more attractive to the reservists themselves.