The mission of the Reserve Forces is to "contribute to the UK's military capability, both deployed overseas and in the UK, whilst maintaining links with society and the local community."
Currently, one third of the Armed Forces of the UK comes from the ranks of the Volunteer Forces. Some 40,000 men and women serve in the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR), the Royal Marines Reserve (RMR), the Army Reserve and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF). Within the North East, there are some 2,500 volunteers in the RNR, RMR and Army Reserve.
In recent years, the role of the Reserves has transformed dramatically following the downsizing of all three Services in the 1990s and the increased operational activity overseas since 2001. The requirement for a highly skilled, professional Reserve to augment their full time counterparts has become of the utmost importance in order to maintain an effective national defence. The effectiveness of the Reserve was proven when, in 2003, 6,900 personnel were mobilized as part of the force which liberated Iraq, some 15% of the total deployed force. In subsequent years, the Reserves have continued to supply high quality men and women to theatres around the globe and have supplied, on average, 1,200 personnel each year. The most recent restructuring of the Reserve Forces aims to fully integrate Reserves with their Regular, full-time colleagues. With this reorganisation of the Reserves, the already high standards are set to rise once again.