Hammond backs Army Reserve plan

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond hopes the Territorial Army (TA) will be renamed the Army Reserve and become an "integral part of the Regular Army".

Mr Hammond said the planned change would require legislation, but added that "when the opportunity for legislation comes along, we will change the name".

The size of the Regular Army, he said, was being reduced to 82,000 and it was "unfortunately" one of the steps the department had to take to "rebalance" the defence budget.

He told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "We will need more reserves because the way we've restructured the Army is with a focus on the front end."

Asked if he had a different name for them, Mr Hammond replied: "In my head they are the Army Reserve and they will be an integral part of the Regular Army, they will train with the Regular Army, they will do overseas training.

"Already this year, we've got a number of overseas training deployments that members of the TA will be engaged in, so I would like to see them renamed. It will take legislation, but when the opportunity for legislation comes along, we will change the name."

Mr Hammond said the process had already started of issuing Regular Army uniforms to TA units and they would have Regular Army style radios, personal protective equipment and vehicles.

Mr Hammond added he hoped to make it "more attractive" for ex-Regulars to complete a period in the Army Reserve, saying it would help with numbers and "helps to change the ethos" of the Army Reserve.

On Afghanistan, Mr Hammond said: "We are very clear that we are going to end our combat mission at the end of 2014, just over two years time."

Commenting on reports that Chancellor George Osborne had queried this timetable, Mr Hammond said: "The Chancellor's style is, quite properly, to challenge received wisdom, everybody is talking about the plan... I think he was asking us to justify our current plan, by putting it to us that there is an alternative, we could just come out now and we take that challenge."