What Is It?
The Reserve Forces Foreign Service Arrangements (RFFSA) sets out how part-time troops whose civilian jobs require them to be employed in Canada, Australia or the USA on a temporary basis, can apply to serve with a similar Reserve unit in the country they are moving to.
- Applicants have to be supported by their chain of command; and
- Both the British Army and foreign unit must agree to defined period of service – usually between one and three years.
During this time the home regiment covers the soldier’s pay.
“Thankfully, there are now useful discussion forums and other resources on Defence Connect that share information on this arrangement, so anyone looking to request an attachment should start there.” (Soldier, 2021, p.46).
There are currently (April 2021) around 20 UK Reservists serving abroad on RFFSA terms, with more applying as awareness grows and Covid-19 travel restrictions ease.
There are also several part-time personnel from those partner nations attached to the British Army Reserve thanks to bilateral agreements with Australia and Canada that have been in force since the late 1990s. The USA has been a partner since 2015.
There are several advantages to the scheme:
- The Service can retain talent they may have otherwise lost.
- It allows individuals to maintain training currency, gain valuable knowledge and insights from partner nations, while maintaining formal links to their units back in the UK.
What Reservists Need to Know
|The RFFSA application process should start before Reservists move overseas.|
|Candidates need the support of their unit commanding officer, who has to confirm the applicant has the qualities and character to act as an ambassador for the regiment and wider Army.|
|Use the new Army Command Standing Order application form – which replaces LFSO 1226 (from April 2021) to apply to the Army International Engagement branch, who will work with the partner nation to find a suitable host unit. The process usually takes six to ten weeks.|
|The British Army Reserve unit continues to hold the individual on strength, pay Reserve service days (RSDs) and provide administrative support.|
|The home unit allocates a maximum number of RSDs to the applicant. It is then up to the individual to work out a training plan with the host unit.|
|Qualifying for certificate of efficiency and annual training bounty is discretionary and the home unit’s Commanding Officer needs to confirm the soldier has performed equivalent training tasks, and the required number of RSDs overseas to meet the criteria.|
|Attachments normally last from nine months to two years but may be extended to three years on request.|
|The scheme cannot be applied to secondments, loans, or exchanges.|
|Search for “Reservists Resident Abroad Network” on Defence Connect for more information.|
Soldier. (2021) Broad Horizons. Soldier: Magazine of the British Army. April 2021, pp.45-48.