Naval Reservists to play greater role in RAN future force

Published on CAPT Frank Kresse (author), LSIS Kayla Jackson (photographer)

Topic(s): Reserves

HMAS Ararat conducts a boarding exercise on Discovery III as part of their Mission Readiness Evaluation, off the coast of Darwin, NT. (photo: ABIS Kayla Hayes)
HMAS Ararat conducts a boarding exercise on Discovery III as part of their Mission Readiness Evaluation, off the coast of Darwin, NT.

The Naval Reserve is to play an increasing role in supporting Navy to ‘fight and win at sea’ as the RAN develops the structures to grow its future workforce. Plans are underway to further integrate the part-time and full-time elements of the Navy with a clear focus on meeting Navy’s current and future requirements.

Since its formation in 1911, the Naval Reserve has transformed numerous times to meet Navy’s changing requirements. Historically, the Reserve existed as a strategic reserve able to be mobilised in time of major conflict. Today however, the Naval Reserve is a fundamental component of Navy’s maritime capability and operates across the maritime environment directly contributing to Australia’s security.

Director General Australian Naval Cadets and Reserves, Commodore Mark Hill, says Navy is progressively drawing on the skills, experience and diversity of Naval reservists to ensure the maintenance and delivery of critical capabilities.

“Today, the Reserve is increasingly being called upon to fill current and future capability shortfalls in Navy’s workforce,” he said.

“Members of the Reserve are hard at work in raise, train and sustain activities as well as Operations.

“These members provide service in a diverse range of officer and sailor categories that are vital to the success of the ADF’s mission,” he said.

One best-known example of how the Naval Reserve is enhancing Permanent Navy capability is in the Patrol Boat force where Reservists provide valuable operational relief through the Patrol Boat Crew Support Squadron (PBCSS). Some 75 Reserves have been employed on operational relief duties in ACPB and other platforms this year alone. The PBCSS provides relief crew members so that capabilities of the patrol boat crews are not compromised, thereby ensuring that patrol boats can continue to deploy for their important Border protection role.

Commodore Hill says the Reserve will be essential in generating and sustaining Navy’s future deployable health and joint cyber warfare capabilities.

“These types of opportunities are becoming more common in the changing global environment,” Commodore Hill said.

“Employing Reserve members to fill specialist roles is a cost-effective way of importing civilian expertise rather than replicating expensive training pipelines.”

These roles are now articulated in the Naval Reserve Workforce Capability Statement released in September 2017, which brings into effect the Chief of Navy’s strategic intent for the Naval Reserve.

Commodore Hill says Navy’s strategic depth and warfighting capability is strengthened by increasing the ability to call upon all components of the workforce.

“We need to be innovative,” Commodore Hill said.

“We must make greater use of contemporary workforce management practices and flexible work arrangements brought by the Total Workforce Model to better exploit the capacity and capability of our Reserve workforce.”

Importantly, the Total Workforce Model will deliver benefits through the implementation of career management, flexible career pathways to optimise the use of the Reserve, flexible training delivery that maximises online learning opportunities, and a better understanding of civilian accreditations and qualifications held by Reserve members.

The intended end state to be achieved is a fully integrated Naval Reserve workforce that is more capable of supporting Navy’s current and forecast capability requirements.