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Future Reserves 2020, the British Army and the politics of military innovation during the Cameron era

Since 2001 there has been an increase in the use of reserve forces in conflicts sparking a number of organizational transformations when it comes to reserves. In Britain, the Future Reserves 2020 (FR2020) transformation was a cornerstone of recent defence policy. Yet, the scholarly work on military innovations has ignored reserve forces. This article examines why and how the recent attempt to transform the British Army Reserve was undertaken, and analyses its outcome. In doing so, this article contributes a major new case-study to the literature focused on civilian-directed peacetime innovation and the impact of intra-party and intra-service politics upon it. Firstly, we originally examine how intra-party political motivations were the primary initiator of the innovation. Secondly, contrary to previous intra-service rivalry explanations, we argue that our case is a compelling example of intra-service rivalry between components rather than branches, and over manpower and organizational structure rather than technology and visions of victory. Finally, addressing the lack of theory in innovation studies, we show how the transformation followed post-Fordist principles to address its political, ideological and financial drivers. We conclude that numerous innovation processes can be operant at different times, and that FR2020 has been frustrated by the interaction between these processes.