Since 2010 and the release of the coalition government's SDSR which brought with it a greater role (and reliance on) the reserve forces, I've heard a lot of ideas about how the reserves could be made better, many of them sterling in quality. Such things as offering regular officers the chance to take a career break while becoming reserve officers, full regular course training for NCOs, making a posting as support to the reserves a part of the career progression for regular NCOs (a la Sir Peter de la Billiere's reformation of the SAS NCO career progression) and many other suggestions.
The attraction for the government has always been simple, as reserve soldiers cost less to retain in peacetime than regulars, though become more expensive when activated for service. The hitch has always been the old question of whether they are as good as regulars, or at the least adequate for service abroad. The nature of reserves as part time soldiers naturally places limits on how much time can be spent practising military tasks. Which did give me one pause for thought.
In yonder civilian world, part-time is generally understood to be somewhere under 30 hours a week, frequently under 20. That's a long way from one weekend a month and a training night in the middle of the week. So it begs the question if whether the part-time nature of some reserves could be adapted to a greater commitment than where it stands now, but still falling well short of what would be expected from regular personnel? Clearly not everyone has the time for this, many having demanding day jobs. But it's possible that some could take on a greater number of hours, perhaps in turn becoming the repository of greater military experience and skill in their units, the central core around which reserve units are built.
It's an idea with flaws of course. Primary among which is the misleading notion that regular soldiers spend all day everyday doing military related training, and as such the misleading notion that a part-time soldier would spend all his additional "shifts" (so to speak) doing war related training. It also doesn't automatically pass on the benefits to other members of the units. Yes it could build greater experience and better organisation, and develop a feeling of being closer to regular counterparts in quality overall, but it doesn't inherently mean that the reserve unit has taken a collective leap forward.
It's possible that the extra hours would be consumed with a degree of paper work and other tasks, but at the very least this time spent organising saves time later. Part-timers of the extended hours nature would have the chance to expand their skills and become trainers in their own right for their own units. It's also reasonable to assume that some would have greater time flexibility to accompany their regular counterparts on more frequent and longer exercises, again building knowledge and experience of the latest methods to be taken back to their reserve units.
Just some food for thought while you sip on your cocoa.