Tuesday-night Army Reserve parades – Defence responds to soldiers’ concerns

Some of you will be aware that I raised this issue last week and sought clarification from Defence about their surprising initial answer.

The followup answer was even more surprising.

But, first, let me recap…

 

It was brought to my attention recently that some Army Reserve units that have traditionally paraded every Tuesday night, may not be parading on Tuesday nights in the future, so that the training budget can be use on field exercises instead.

This first came from a CONTACT fan who was concerned about rumours floating around his unit that the long-held, historical practice of parading every Tuesday night was about to change.

So CONTACT asked Defence for clarification…

Could you please comment/confirm/deny a rumour that’s been brought to my attention that at least some Army Reserve units may not be parading on Tuesday nights in the future, in an effort to save ARTS for use instead on field exercises?

Defence’s answered two weeks later…

The frequency of Tuesday night parading varies from unit to unit and is influenced by a number of factors including training objectives, the time of year, and the availability of reserve members.

Some units may elect to aggregate resources in order to conduct a single activity over one or more days, which often delivers better training opportunities for members, and delivers enhanced outcomes for the overall reserve capability.

The Army Reserve is sufficiently funded in the current financial year, and into forward estimates.  

It is important for the Army Reserve to have flexibility to develop parading regimes which optimise training and capability outcomes within assigned resources.

This approach ensures priority training continues in all parts of the Army Reserve.

Now, I don’t know about you, but, I found this answer rather surprising.

I genuinely didn’t know that individual units had the flexibility to drop Tuesday-night parading and aggregate their resources in order to conduct consolidated blocks of training.

The soldier who brought the rumour to my attention obviously didn’t know this either.

And, it seems, Defence Force Recruiting don’t know about it either, because their web site clearly states, “You will be required to parade one night a week of three hours duration...”

Now, I’m not actually saying that dropping Tuesday-night parading in favour of block training is a bad thing. And, it has been pointed out to me that some units, for example such as 51FNQR, rarely if ever adhere to ‘normal’ parade patterns (because they deploy so often).

I’m just saying that I didn’t know it was a unit-to-unit optional extra.

And I’m saying that many soldiers in the regions, who have been used to the routine for donkey’s years, didn’t know about this either.

Anyway, at the risk of labouring the point, I asked Defence some follow-up questions…

Can you please confirm/clarify your answer in light of…
  • long-running ad campaigns that spoke of “one night a week, one weekend a month”
  • the “commitment FAQ” on the defencejobs.gov.au web site that still clearly says “You will then be required to parade one night a week of three hours duration and one weekend a month to maintain your fitness and revise skills already taught to you.
  • concerns raised by Army reserve soldiers who complain of rumours that the standard and long-established practice of parading on Tuesday nights in their units is about to cease/change after many, many years
  • concerns raised around the difficulty of planning and coordinating civilian leave in a fluctuating, unpredictable, changing reserve-attendance-commitment environment
  • your answer not being consistent with long historical experiences of soldiers in the majority of reserve units
Can you please explain when unit-level flexibility in this matter came into effect and when/how was it communicated to the units and to the soldiers?
Also, in answer to my query about cutbacks to Tuesday-night parading in SE Queensland, in May this year, you said “Contrary to media reporting, Army Reserve members continue to parade in South East Queensland and the Reserve force is adequately funded. Regular Tuesday parade nights and training weekends continue”. 
This clearly infers that parading on Tuesday nights is a regular thing. Please comment.

 

Well, slap me silly and call me a monkey – Defence answered my enquiry this morning – at 10.31am Tuesday 4 October.

You should note – I submitted the follow-up questions after knockoff on Friday 30 September and Monday 3 October was a public holiday.

Let me say that another way…

Unless someone worked on this over the bank-holiday weekend, Defence considered this issue, compiled their answer and got it cleared through the chain of command in about 2.5 working hours!!!

That’s got to be a record.

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And their carefully considered and duly authorised answer was….

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“Thankyou for your follow up enquiry. Defence has nothing further to add.”

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(Disclaimer – My questions to Defence are from me as a civilian reporter and are completely independent of my reserve service. I am a sergeant in the Active Reserve, posted to a full-time unit, working on special projects. Therefore I am personally unaffected by this issue.)

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

9 thoughts on “Tuesday-night Army Reserve parades – Defence responds to soldiers’ concerns

  • 08/02/2019 at 11:01 pm
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    Can someone help me out here? If I applied to the reserves and were accepted, do I have to attend parade nights straight away or is it appropriate to wait until after I finish kapooka?

    Reply
  • 18/10/2016 at 10:18 pm
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    I have been serving in the ARA and ARes/CMF for over 50 years now and I can tell you that nothing surprises me. And, in fact, what is happening now has happened before, and no doubt will happen again.

    I don’t view Tuesday night parades as a condition of my service. I see it as a means for establishing and maintaining capability. And if that capability can be adapted using a different configuration of training days then so be it. Personally I think that the mid week training night has become something of an anachronism given that the social side of reserve life is all but zero in most units. A weekend activity, even if it is only every second month, is far more productive in terms of training time, resource useage and team building. It certainly allows training programs to be run more smoothly.

    One of the strongest points about reservists is their ability to adopt, adapt and move on regardless of what is thrown their way. From second grade uniforms and weapons, to equipment and rations continually whisked off to support ARA exercises, to cadre staff who don’t want to be there, to ‘greatcoats on – greatcoats off’ (for those who know what a greatcoat is), to training which doesn’t seem to fit with any overarching strategic or operational plan, the average reservist has had to put up with a lot just to earn the privilege of serving. And they keep coming back.

    Always have and always will.

    Reply
  • 05/10/2016 at 1:07 am
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    I’ve been in the system awhile and have come to the following conclusions. The ‘one night a week … two weeks a year’ requirement is a guide only. In reality ARTDs is governed by ‘CO’s discretion’ and budgetary constraints. Even sub-units can be on ‘special conditions’. In our case, the regional (country) depots are so undermanned, they don’t parade Tuesday nights but gather together only for weekends and other block training (CATAs etc.). For years it was always understood that the approach of the end of the financial year could and often did mean a cutting of parade nights as a means of balancing the ARTDs budget and that once 1st July passed it could be a course nomination free-for-all (within reason). This year was different – it was explained to us that another ARes Brigade overspent their budget big time, thus impacting the rest of 2 Div. One wonders WTF Rupert is accountable for *that* debacle …

    Reply
  • 04/10/2016 at 9:25 pm
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    I joined the GRES in 1986 under the one night a week, one weekend a month, one fortnight a year deal. Soon after joining the every Tuesday night parade became the Tuesday before a WFX to prep stores and the Tuesday after the WFX to return stores. The other two Tuesday nights were called Officer / NCO nights and Diggers were not required. This was because the funding was not there for the man days.

    Over the 8 years I served in the GRES, the one night a week thing came back when the money was there and it went again when the money dried up. I was always under the impression that the parade card that was drawn up at the start of each year had to work within a budget, if the money was not there then you never put a Tuesday night parade on the card.

    It is very sad that after 30 years the same concerns that I and my generation of Diggers had about Tuesday night parades still exists. Wonder if the GRES still just do TOETs every Tuesday night parade because no one can be bothered to write a lesson plan and teach something new.

    Reply
    • 10/10/2016 at 10:21 am
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      Hi Robert,

      I was an ’80’s ARES member in 1/15 RNSWL for a number of years. After a long break and various career adventures, I went back to the unit in 2011. I can safely say, that the ARES is, in some ways a shadow of its formal self. The Training Troop did basically nothing to prepare recruits for Kapooka. Lesson plans were rare and usually very disorganised, the Regular Army NCOs assigned to training troop were less than enthusiastic with their assignment and little was done to provide anything more than rudimentary lectures on LandNav and organisation of the Army. Added to that we got some ad hoc lectures specific to our unit on two occasions. Little regard was given to setting up PFA for recruits, or in assisting recruits with arranging Kapooka dates. It was not uncommon from my experience for recruits in my training troop to be required to make 2 -3 requests to get on to the course. Notice of whether or not you were accepted was usually two weeks. I personally, working full time had great trouble sorting out leave with my employer for this reason.

      In contrast, during the 80’s we all got basic drill, the fundamentals of the SLR, M60, and various elements related to the specialty area we would be going into, in my troops case ECN020 Assault Trooper. I was also told at my first parade the date of my training course at Bardia Barracks and that was the day I went. We paraded every Tuesday night, we did our regular weekend courses as expected and the yearly two week training.

      How things have changed.

      Reply
  • 04/10/2016 at 6:34 pm
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    I’m a reservist in the RAAF and our parading is fairly irregular. While it is meant to be every second Wednesday evening this changes regularly depending on when senior staff are available and when certain tasks (usually admin) need to be done. This means sometimes we might not parade for three weeks or parade two weeks in a row. We are advised as to when we are to parade by email or text usually the week before but sometimes not until the actual day (very frustrating when you get a text saying “parade tonight” when you have made other plans).

    Reply
    • 04/10/2016 at 7:33 pm
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      That would be very frustrating, Macca. What happens if your other plans can’t be changed or you’re out of town or something when a same-day txt comes?

      Reply
      • 04/10/2016 at 10:54 pm
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        Just have to reply that I can’t attend.

        Reply
  • 04/10/2016 at 11:52 am
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    A couple of Facebook comments about the initial story got up my nose, so I thought I’d reproduce them here for posterity…

    Alec Chamberlain said – Just take a look at units such as 51FNQR, it’s an ‘under strength’ battalion being deployed on a regular basis without ever leaving the state, and as such won’t have the same ‘parade’ criteria as other reserve units elsewhere. My point is they are different in many ways to what we would expect or a reserve unit. I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong with this idea either, and it’s good to see units tailored to certain operational requirements, and the requirements of their part-time soldiers.

    Contact Magazine’s reply
    Hi Alec Chamberlain – I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said – nor does the gist of my blog, I don’t think. The gist of my blog is that the majority of reserve units, which have been parading every Tuesday night for donkey’s years, are hearing rumours that this is about to change – that no one has officially told them that it’s about to change – and when I ask for clarification on behalf of those who are ‘worried’, Defence tries to make out that it’s always been a unit-level decision whether to parade on Tuesday night or not. And that’s BS.
    It’s also BS in light of the answer given to me in May when Tuesday night parading in south-east Queensland was cancelled ‘due to budget shortfalls’. At that time, Defence denied that ‘regular Tuesday night parades’ were affected, contrary to media reporting. Which of course, I then heard from soldiers affected that their cancelled Tuesday night parades has suddenly been turned back on again.
    The thing is, I agree with you that cancelling Tuesday nights in favour of block training could possibly be a good thing, from a training perspective. But that’s not the point at all. The point is really about Defence changing soldiers’ terms and conditions of service without telling them (except via the rumour mill) and the subsequent honesty, integrity, veracity and consistancy (or lack thereof) of the answers they deliver to the media when legitimate enquiries are made.

    Alec Chamberlain’s reply – Understood. That certainly clears it up a bit. I was addressing more of the ‘surprised’ element of the article than the likes of what you’re saying now, in which case, I have to completely agree with you. Although perhaps the respondent to your email wrongly assumed you didn’t have the knowledge base to understand the full situation and/or answer, and gave you the civilian copy&paste answer instead. Might be worth another email? Call me naive but I’m also struggling to understand why you were given such a response. Regardless, keep up the good work, and thanks for all the free content ;D
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    Terry Toon said – What a load of social media vomit. CONTACT normally you have some good articles. Here’s something to consider, if majority of a reserve unit’s soldiers deploy on a field training exercise do you really think some reservist who can’t due to work commitments should be able to parade with potentially little to no staff to administer or train them. Perhaps you could do a story about how reserves are being embraced into Brigades as a another manoeuvre battle group.

    Contact Magazine’s reply
    I think you’re being a bit harsh on me. I made no suggestion and would never support the rediculous scenario you paint (of a lone reservist demanding special treatment while the rest of the unit is out bush).
    My argument is centered around Defence changing soldiers’ terms and conditions of service without telling them (except via the rumour mill) and the subsequent honesty, integrity, veracity and consistancy (or lack thereof) of the answers they deliver to media when legitimate enquiries are made.
    As for ‘reserves being embraced into Brigades’ – you are way out of line with that criticism. I have written several stories over many years supporting and praising the integration of reserves via Plan Beersheba. In fact, the spread on Ex Hamel in the latest issue of CONTACT, if you bothered to read it, had a good big spiel that explained in glowing terms what ‘Battle Group Jacka’ brought to 1st Brigade – Australian Army. You can find that story on page 30 of CONTACT 51, here
    https://www.contactairlandandsea.com/free_contact/contact51/contact51.pdf

    Reply

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