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Uploaded: 05 September 2003



Dear Sir

I found your comments about the Territorial Army deployment to the Gulf whilst browsing the Internet and would like to redress a couple of points.

Firstly, your friend was not conscripted, he volunteered to join the TA with no-one to force him into it. Conscription would mean he was legally forced, possibly against his will, to join the TA. When he signed up it should have been made quite clear that it is possible that he could be sent on operational duty anywhere in the world in order to support the Regular Army. In fact there are several forms that he will have read and signed acknowledging that he accepted this.

As a Royal Engineer (Volunteer) myself it is a fact that regardless of which arm of the army you are, be it a signaller, cook or driver etc, you are firstly a soldier (basic trained in infantry skills) then secondly a specialist soldier (in your friends case an engineer). He would not have been deployed unless he had passed the minimum requirement basic training and prior to entering the theatre of operation he would have undergone specialised training for that operation.

To illustrate this with a film you may have seen (Zulu), in the late 1800's a small contingent of Royal Engineers went to build a bridge at Rourkes Drift in Africa. They ended up being attacked by thousands of Zulu Warriors and quickly put aside their engineering skills and adopted their infantry skills to quell the attacks. Thereby relying upon their foundations as basic trained infantry soldiers.

If a TA soldier puts in the training there is no reason why he/she should be vast worlds apart from the regulars. Those who only turn up for the minimum training just to gain the annual bounty payment will be in for more of a shock if deployed. I am unsure of your friends background but I am sure he would agree with what I have said.

Of course he was "shitting himself" when he first went into that sort of situation. I will guarantee that the feeling would have been exactly the same for even the regular troops serving along side of him.

The Regular Army is severely under manned due to world wide commitments. The TA is trained and paid to fill in the gaps and to support a stretched regular force. If the TA were not to be deployed then in what capacity are they to be used? A TA soldier is paid quite well and with 40,000 TA soldiers plus buildings and equipment, that is a large amount of cash for the government to be spending for effectively a home guard. A home guard that will never be used as the last time I looked this country could not be invaded by any known force, unless you think the Germans are going to have another bash?

I trust this has helped you understand a little more about the TA.

Yours faithfully




Keith Lindsay-Cameron 2003

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