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New structures of military service provide a counter to the shocks associated with today’s transition journey, simplifying some stages of transition but adding more complexity in others.

Key to this conversation is to observe that those in transition in 2030 will be significantly different to those transitioning today – in demographic, attitude and behaviour. There are a number of reasons, not least because, as previously discussed, methods of warfare are changing, which will be reflected in the make-up, size and scale of the Armed Forces. As a result of the natural decline in the number of those who took part in National Service, expect a younger cohort. Most will be nowhere near retirement when they leave the Armed Forces, and will have joined up as part of their career, rather than as a lifetime commitment. They will be more diverse culturally and ethnically, and with a growing proportion of women. They and their families are also likely to have more stable home lives, as the Future Accommodation Model will reduce the need for regular relocations during Service.

On top of this, the proportion of Reservists may well increase, and as a result, there will likely be more fluidity between the Armed Forces and civilian life, as more people join because of their existing skill set rather than to develop them. As one workshop participant observed, “This is particularly true of Reservists. We are becoming less fed from the bottom up by young recruits. Rather we are looking for skill sets. I can really see this growing – so perhaps people will enter the Armed Forces as a 2nd or 3rd career, rather than as a first job.” Given this, the old understanding that a career in the Armed Forces requires total dedication, and as a result the state has a responsibility of care, may no longer be publicly acceptable. Therefore, the terms of Service for men and women in the Armed Forces may well be adapted to reflect this.

Most see the changing nature of the transitioner population, and the different experiences they will have, as providing a counter to the shocks associated with today’s transition journey, smoothing out and simplifying the distinct phases that occur after the ‘Threshold’ stage of the Transition Journey. As a result, many we spoke to believe that most of these changes are positive, and will assist in transition for most being easier in the future than today. Indeed, this is in part the intent behind much of what is already included in JSP100. As one participant put it, “maybe the Armed Forces over time will become a more normal job – and if that is the case, then transition will be less difficult”.

However, others argued that while the numbers of those in transition will decrease, the complexity of their need profiles may in fact increase. Not everyone, they point out, will benefit from the Future Accommodation Model; there will still be boots on the ground in dangerous places, and although fewer may find themselves in direct combat situations, the mental strain of increasingly targeted and personalised warfare may result in mental trauma which has its own lasting effects. Finally, as long as the current definition remains in place, there is a responsibility of care for those Early Service Leavers who today make up almost a third of those going through transition, and an even higher share of those who require support.

Example Implication: While the numbers of those in transition over time will decrease, the complexity of their need profiles may increase and require more specific support. Expect a requirement for more segmented and psychological support.

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