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Army reserve system to be overhauled

By George Psyllides

The defence minister on Thursday announced the introduction of a volunteer reservist scheme as part of an overhaul of the National Guard’s reserve forces, which includes reduction in time wasting and an increase in annual attendance accompanied by a cut in duration.

Savvas Angelides said the aim was to fully utilise reserves and cut exemptions, as many people view reservist duty as a waste of time and loss of income since many have to take time off work.

Many say they do nothing most of the time, spending their time “under the carob trees.”

Angelides said time waste would be cut to a minimum during registration and an effort will be made for better distribution in units, utilising their experience, academic and other qualifications, and age.

The minister said the army will be scrapping the 14-hour summer call, the 29-hour call in the first half of the year, as well as the intermediate appearances of reserve officers.

Appearances will increase but their duration will be reduced markedly.

Angelides said reserves formed the backbone of the National Guard and the Republic’s ability to defend itself.

Having served himself, he knows first-hand the grievances “rightly expressed by our reservists about the pointless waste of time to the detriment of their work, their families, their personal time, but also the army.”

He added: “At the same time I recognise the high sense of responsibility they possess.”

Angelides said the current state of affairs did not meet the objective, which was to fully utilise reservists in the best way.

“Because the reservist is the taxpayer who is shouldering the burden of the National Guard’s existence and operation,” Angelides said.

As examples of the new regime, the minister said when reservists are asked to report for target practice they should be able to go to a range at any time they can, thus cutting time waste.

Also, when an exercise finished before the scheduled time, unit commanders will discharge the troops instead of holding them until the set time.

Angelides said the driving force behind the changes were the reservists themselves whose complaints were heeded by the government, as was their desire to contribute to the army’s modernisation.

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