Reserve Forces and the Transformation of British Military Organisation: Soldiers, Citizens and Society

Timothy P Edmunds, Antonia L Dawes, Paul R Higate, Neil Jenkings, Rachel Woodward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
526 Downloads (Pure)


In recent years there has been a sharp growth in political and sociological interest in the British military. Set against the backdrop of the armed forces increasing presence in everyday life, alongside the organizations’ ongoing restructuring, the current paper focuses on the MoD’s problematic attempts to recruit 30,000 Reservists by 2020; what has become known as the Future Reserves 2020 programme (FR2020). We argue that these changes are driven in part by the need to cut costs in defence. However, we also suggest that that they are a reflection of the changing nature of modern military organisation, and the manner in which armed forces engage with the societies of which they are a part, and with the citizens that make up that society. We locate FR2020 programme in the context of a wider narrative about the changing nature of military organisation in contemporary western democracies, identifying structural, circumstantial and normative reasons for change. We also examine the specific challenges of implementing FR2020 in practice, including issues of recruitment and retention, integration and support, and relations with families and employers, drawing on the experience of comparator countries to do so. We conclude by considering the implications of these changes, both for the future of UK armed forces, and for the evolving nature of military-society relations in Britain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-136
Number of pages19
JournalDefence Studies
Issue number2
Early online date3 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • Defence
  • Civil-Military Relations
  • Reserve Forces
  • Armed Forces
  • Military
  • British Defence
  • Military-Society Relations


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