I always thought the Army was for the physically and mentally strong, with no room for people (like me), who aren’t. But the use of teardrops and supporting hands on shoulders in the Army’s new softly drawn animated recruitment ad suggests that not everyone agrees. It’s good that the advert lets potential recruits know that they shouldn’t face discrimination for their race, faith, sexuality or gender. But it also lets them know that the Army is a place of reassurance and emotional safety.

Soldiers can face enormous mental and emotional demands, from the crippling pain and distress of PTSD to simple homesickness, and everything in between. Of course they should receive the help and support they need but that doesn’t mean you should lead with these issues when you are trying to recruit. Armies are for the tough. You can’t get past that and we should expect our Army to discriminate accordingly. If you can’t cope with your corporal shouting at you for some minor or even imaginary infraction of the rules when you’re in your barracks in Aldershot, you’re never going to cope with being shot at. Battles don’t have safe spaces.

It’s true that the Army has a serious recruitment problem, but no one has proved it’s a lack of empathy that’s putting young people off. I think most of the soldiers I’ve known would laugh raucously at that idea. Do we need to rethink the whole issue? I’m sure there are still plenty of young people out there who could do the job, but we need to find them and find the right ways to encourage them to come forward.

Perhaps we could start by providing better facilities and kit for the Army cadets, an obvious gateway for recruits. Then put more effort into going into our schools and colleges to find the self-confident, bright and capable young people our armed forces need. Or even a few more public displays of pride in those men and women who already serve. These aren’t new ideas but we might be able to find the money to do them better if we cut back on the dafter ads or stopped doing things such as wasting £2million to come up with suggestions like dropping the Army’s ‘Be the Best’ slogan on the grounds that it is elitist. The Army should be elitist!

It’s good that the Army doesn’t want to discriminate on irrelevant grounds and is encouraging different people to apply, but representing our society properly doesn’t mean mirroring it perfectly. It will always be a special institution, suitable for some of us but not all. Let’s keep our Army looking tough and scary enough to deter at least some of those who mean us and our soldiers harm.

51 COMMENTS

  1. If we think back, say, to the Rudyard Kipling era, the Army never was much in good odour and likely has always had trouble attracting and retaining soldiers.

    At the risk of undue glibness, the Army has always needed to sell a “game of soldiers” to a recruiting pool much more likely to say “Sod this.” But there’s doing it with vinegar and doing it with honey, of course. The trouble is, you are liable to have well too many thinking they were baited-and-switched when they find how vinegary life can sometimes be when one puts on the khaki for Queen and Country. Unless, of course, they plan to make it less vinegary, but then, what’s the purpose of an Army? Is it going to be reimagined as simply a make-work project? “It’ll take ‘youth at risk’ off the mean streets and instil some good things, like responsibility and such, into them!”? Lord spare us from the do-gooders redefining the mission of the rough men who stand ready to do violence on our behalf so we can sleep well at night!

    • “It’ll take ‘youth at risk’ off the mean streets”

      I’d rather have “youth at risk” in the Army than some weakling who’s worried about being listened to when he gets emotional. At least they’re tough, and can be beaten* into a more disciplined shape.

      * Metaphorically, of course…

      • The NCOs can’t even shout at them during training. As for “youth at risk” on the street, it seems that they will be the Bame stabbing victims caused by other bame knife carriers. Do they seriously have any prospect of making well-disciplined, trained Infantry?
        And given that the latest MoD news suggests a reduction of 15,000 in our Army, precisely why do we want to recruit these “precious” youths?
        Does one get the idea that all this crap about pooftahs, moslems and women being recruited whilst the MoD talks about massive troop reductions, the loss of up to 53 cap badges, the loss of 9 major surface ships and the entire Marine support fleet isn’t “fake news”……

    • Yes what gets missed is that recruitment, certainly where I live, is from quite specific districts and towns. Three of my colleagues have sons trying to get in to the Army or Marines (its not an easy process for male recruits) Two have sons in the forces. My point being that in those areas generations of people have been or are in the forces and they are quite “clued up” on its current state. The logic would be to relate once again to these communities. Probably cost a lot less.

      Certainly regionally I’ve noticed the Navy briefly airs its “diversity” ads. then settles its campaign on “I was born in Carlisle I was made in the Navy” probably because that latter works. By now the young man featured must be quite old!.

  2. Hang on a minute… Am I the only one who has noticed the wholesale cutbacks in the British armed forces, in recent years? Back when Blair had our armed forces fighting two wars, he sanctioned deep cuts in military expenditure. Battalions of infantry, air squadrons and the entire fixed-wing Fleet Air Arm disappeared, the latter even as orders for two huge aircraft-carriers had been made. Swathes of the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force have been made redundant – and now people are wondering why it is so difficult to recruit new soldiers. Seriously, to whom does that come as a surprise?

    Do they really think that spouting politically correct twaddle is the way to go about fixing shortfalls in recruitment ?

  3. Does our political elite actually want the armed forces? Seemingly Ajem Choudray received more in state benefits than Lee Rigby received in army pay.Then we have the LGBT agenda. If the country limited its recruitment to just that favoured group, could our forces cope with deployments/commitments? If not, why is the country falling over itself to target them? Surely recruitment should be focused on achieving the maximum effective, viable return?
    Would we be better scrapping the military Equality units? Politicians would probably be against this, since scrapping one then calls into question the entire industry up to and including the Women’s and Equality unit at cabinet level

  4. But according to Sharia May the EU army forces are going to protect us, so why spend money on soldiers when we have imported millions whose religion is so peaceful?

    • I watch an old YT clip of Eurocorp unfurling their rag at some ceremony, they looked like a gay parade.

      • Did you miss the Trooping of the Colour? The girly Guards were noticeable with their diminutive stature. I don’t see the Russians going for co-ed Regiments even if their female fighters are fearsome.

  5. Just another one of our institutions that has become an embarrassment, it’ seen as too white and too male, and that is the crux of everything.
    Is it any wonder so many young men won’t commit,they are not all stupid and many see what’s going on.
    I don’t blame them one iota. Although I wonder why some young men are being made redundant from the forces if numbers are the problem, is that also because of the above?
    This madness won’t end until everything lies in ruins, but at least everyone will be able to admire their medals for being “tolerant Brits” in the war against them.

    • There is a problem with all this Diversity and Inclusion stuff when applied to the Armed Forces (and the police).

      If D&I is enforced by law, illegal organisations are by their nature exempt (if you see what I mean). I could be wrong but I don’t think the Continuity IRA, National Action, Al Qaeda or the Mafia have Diversity officers, or make strenuous efforts to recruit members of the LGBT community.

      If the Armed Forces and Police tell recruits that it is ok if you’re a bit soft and weepy and need a shoulder to cry on, the end result will be that Darwinian pressure will ensure that the bad, but hard, organisations will triumph.

  6. The focus should not be on the armed forces themselves who are just adapting to the situation but on what the UK has become. Why should any tough traditional soldier give his life to defend a rootless tower of babel which stands only for equality of value systems which are not in fact of equal value. I believe in British and Christian values and culture. Imagine dying for diversity.

      • You have to have a sense of humour too about the new proposed touchy-feely recruitment adverts. There is a Second World War song Kiss me goodnight Sergeant Major, which ends Sergeant Major be a mother to me. Little did the soldiers singing that as a joke realise how true it would become only 70 years later.

        • The new recruitment policy of attracting Homosexuals women and moslems is truly bonkers. There is no particular problem with women’s units, the problem arises inserting women in front-line battle scenarios which few have the physical strength, stamina or fortitude to handle. The Army standards to qualify were reduced to enable some applicants to achieve them. Homosexuals have always caused problems in the Forces and are recognised to cause serious falls in morale. As for moslems, dietary limitations, religious demands, cultural separation.
          What is more disappointing than the crassness of the new policy is tye supine acceptance of this by the C.o.G.S, C.o.D.s and the Defence Secretary….or has he been the fallguy and Fallon nodded it through before a convenient “sacking”?

          • ‘the problem arises inserting women in front-line battle scenarios which few have the physical strength, stamina or fortitude to handle.’

            That’s not the only issue. It is inbuilt in men to protect women and children. How can a male front-line soldier do his job when he’s busy watching out for his female colleague? That puts both lives at risk. Some women would call that sexist but it is a fact – men will always look to protect women. It’s as simple as that.

  7. The truth is that Britain is now free loading on America for its defense while simultaneously insulting the current US president.The model seems to be a Scandinavian style army that can supply a few units for UN peacekeeping but that is about it.If I was a Russian army commander I would show the current British army recruitment ad to my men to give them a laugh and boost their morale.There is actually a war going on in Europe at the moment in Eastern Ukraine in which 10.000 have died since 2014. This is presumably the sort of war the British Army could find itself in think Stalingrad. Today there are reports of further proposed cuts in fighting strengths.At this rate even internal security duties could prove problematic.The 2011 riots gave us a glimpse of how quickly things can break down in this country.In a prolonged crisis or even Norther Ireland type inter communal violence (in 2011 this nearly occurred between Afro-Caribbeans and Asians in Birmingham)

    • I note the Swedes have finally woken up to their military collapse from its days last century as a well armed military and militia society. In a landmark report they admitted since the “end of history” they had presumed that NATO would save them. They halted years of decline, have reintroduced conscription and bought some tanks and ships (after a Russian submarine practically sailed into the Capital). Along with their near neighbours they are waking up to the threat posed by Russia which has successfully used its (forceful) forces to gain territory and leverage in a decidedly 20th Century way.

  8. We don’t ask ‘society’ to be prepared to disembowel the Queen’s enemies with a bayonet, so why, in God’s name, do we ask our soldiers to reflect it?

    I saw this nonsense coming in 2012, which is why I left early after 27 years service. The higher command had become hopelessly, politically compromised and it was needlessly costing lives. Like so much of public life, the service chiefs are taking a wonderful inheritance and destroying it.

    Note to Chiefs of Staff: Our men and women in the Armed Forces are, by the very nature of what we train them to do, ‘elite’. They are special. They are a breed apart. They are the best.

    That is the only thing you have to sell.

    • I am psychologically quite radically incompatible with service in the armed forces, but I have nothing but genuine respect for military men — my dad was military MI don’t-know-which-number, my uncle was a fighter pilot, and my nephew is a fighter pilot.

      I don’t know about “the best”, but I do know from the military/ex-military/mercenaries that I’ve sometimes had conversations with that genuine physical strength and/or endurance and at least some form of capability to a mental strength of discipline are requirements, not optionals. They’re the same basic requirements to be a foot pilgrim.

      Except that the nature of what it means to be a foot pilgrim is under the very same kind and nature of ideological assault by people who seem to think that the easy path is just as good as the actual, hard requirements.

      I’m sorry to hear that you felt forced to resign your commission in the face of all this nonsense, though I suppose one day an actual major shooting war will start, and completely destroy by necessity all of this outrageous bollox.

      • If, by ‘foot pilgrim’ you mean the infantry soldier…

        It’s worth knowing that everyone, in all three services, from the Chiefs of Staff, through the more ‘cerebral’ trades – pilots (I was a pilot as well), technicians, intelligence, logistics, service support…throughout the entire rank structure, exist for only one reason…

        …to support and serve Private Tommy Atkins, who is the one – the point of the spear, if you like – who gets within touching distance of the enemy.

        To that end, all ranks of all three services undergo the same basic military training as he does (he goes on to advanced infantry training – whilst the rest of us go on to specialise in supporting him).

        Sadly, I think your last paragraph will prove to be prescient…

        • Yeaaaaah, someone who gets it, yet Tommy Atkins is the first to get it in the neck should he step an inch out of line.

  9. Sorry, but it all makes perfect sense to me. We know that no job can possibly function properly unless it accurately reflects – and of course celebrates – the wonderful diversity of the society it represents. This is why we must have more black people in the fire service, more LGBTs in teaching, and more women in the Cabinet, just to pick a few examples at random. We must be inclusive, and not riddled with hatred, bigotry and phobias as this country has been throughout its history all the while it has been ruled by dominant heterosexual white men.

    But now everything is changing for the better. That must obviously include the armed forces. Just because you are a sensitive pacifist who doesn’t like loud noises and gets panicky under stress, should be no reason at all to prevent you from taking your rightful place in the modern army. If you want to be a soldier, like those incredibly brilliant women we see in all the movies and TV shows, we must make sure that you will be welcome and accommodated, whatever your personal likes and preferences, and given every opportunity to rise rapidly to the top.

    Try to be more understanding, please.

    • I hope that this is sarcasm, but I must say, if so, it’s somewhat poorly targeted … it’s liable to create confusion.

    • Well may you mock Parmenter but we’ll see if your sense of humour survives compulsory re-education in camps run by Guardian and BBC-trained apparatchiks whose purpose in life is making believers in the old white patriarchy cry for mercy and absolution for millennia of sin.

  10. Britain has not fought a war that was in any sense defensive since 1982. But we have fought plenty of wars since then. If you want to cry about anything, then cry about that.

    • You mean self-defensive. The first Gulf War was fought to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait and was therefore defensive in the sense of restoring and defending Kuwait’s sovereignty. All the other wars were either New Labour’s or the Heir to Blair’s interventions. But you were probably amongst those who voted New Labour as the only socialist game in town which would lead to power. Now that Labour has re-invented itself once more you are gathered behind the new Dear Leader and busy denouncing and distancing yourself from what went before. Never Mind The Reality, Feel The Power.

      • I have now been out of the Labour Party for far longer than I was ever in it, and I won’t be going back. But it is now led by a man who opposed all of those wars, whereas Theresa May supported them all. Every last one of them.

        Enoch Powell told you at the time that Britain was under no obligation to defend Kuwait. Your failed attempt at a clever defence, so to speak, of that war is just laughable.

        • Obligation is one thing, intervention another. But as usual you are side-stepping. Enoch Powell never told me anything. He did voice his opinion on the matter.

          Your present claim of being an independent “journalist” is laughable since you (and the sockpuppet who uses your name) still post relentless left-wing propaganda and in 2006 you blogged “I want to be a Labour MP. I joined the Labour Party when I was 17, have served on CLP GC and EC (and on DLP) since I was 18, chaired my Branch for several years from the age of 19”. In 2016 you declared “I am banned for life from the Labour Party”. No one is ever banned from a party who doesn’t want to be a member of it and your comment about Corbyn says it all.

  11. When I was interviewed by the Admiralty Board for a commission in the Royal Marines in 1976, when I was 20, one of the panel asked me whether I would be prepared to kill people. I looked at him in blank amazement (Would someone who is not prepared to kill people want to join the Royal Marines?) and then told them that the only reason I wanted to join was to kill people. That shut them up! Silly question. I was one of 40 out of 2000 applicants who passed.

  12. There can’t be Black and Islamic immigration without Black and Islamic representation in every last area of activity in British society and we can’t have that representation without Blacks and Muslims rising to the top. There will be Black British prime ministers and civil service permanent secretaries and Muslim generals and transgendered admirals because they have the same rights as other British-born people regardless of their race, sex or religion of origin. The next archbishop of Canterbury could be a lesbian with a lesbian wife. Multiculturalism means that these future leaders need not necessarily espouse British values as our older generations understand them. This is what we will get because this is what we voted for and its no using claiming we didn’t vote for it. Everyone knew what Blair and Cameron and Mrs May were doing and we voted for them nonetheless. The future will be identity politics and belong to the party that best reconciles the competing claims of the Caucasian British and the immigrant British.

  13. Like it or not the best recruiting sergeant for the Army is the prospect of military operations as there will always be young people who crave adventure. However, as a reaction to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars we now have a government petrified of UK “boots on the ground” so believe dropping bombs from 15,000 feet is the way to go. If the government knows it will not have the courage to commit to ground operations then defence cuts and a softening of military standards follows quite logically.
    Unfortunately, our enemies are watching as we broaden our range of weaknesses and one day the main purpose of the Armed Forces, deterrence, will fail. When deterrence fails the UK will have choice of capitulation or we will have to commit our troops to ground operations. On that day we may have deprived them of the right equipment and the right mental toughness and it will be difficult to avoid a military disaster.

  14. It is hardly surprising that the Army is finding recruitment difficult and numbers below its requirements when it has made fully trained troops redundant before their pensionable retirement date, abandoned ex- troopers with psychological problems and no work, and pursued many brave servicemen who were falsely accused of murder in Iraq. Sir Knee Squeezer was in charge when the investigation took place, costing millions, and they even paid Mr Shiner for his help before he was struck off and went bankrupt in case servicemen sued him. There are even charges being brought against soldiers who were serving in Northern Ireland years ago and after former terrorists were given an amnesty. Who would want to serve in an organisation that dumps on its staff rather than back them up? As for appealing to sensitive types and those who may need to break off combat to pray towards Mecca…….

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/20/scandal-british-troops-cleared-iraq-death-14-years-ago-now-facing/

    • Why don’t the heads of the armed forces make those points forcibly to the government rather than humour them by introducing politically correct claptrap into their recruitment advertisements?

  15. It is 1917 and the chaps are about to go over the top. Lieutenant Lady Henrietta (formerly Sir Henry) Sykes-Cholmondley checks their perfectly varnished nails as their batperson lays out their uniform. “Will Sir or Madam be wearing a skirt or trousers for today’s show?” ze asks. “And flats or heels?” Henrietta opts for a fetching khaki tutu that shows off their beautifully turned thighs and is a flattering contrast with their butch Doc Martens. This will show the waiting Hun! Ze holsters their pink service pistol with the diamond studded handle and blows the whistle for the off.

  16. It’s all the squaddie’s fault nowadays, they won’t take the hint and leave before they start to accrue pensions.
    The army was good at pissing you off once the excitement of barrack life was also starting to wear thin as you matured from a spotty oik into a man with ambition and perhaps the desire to start a family. They want to use you and abuse you and then cast you off without having anything more to do with you, especially if it costs them money that could be better spent on the Colonels gardener.

  17. I remember my brother telling me about drill one morning when he was doing his basic training for the para’s. His corporal brought his 8 year old son in with him and had him shout out orders, even walking over the recruits when they were doing press ups. I imagine many people might have found that a struggle, some even humiliating – I found the description quite funny. Those who need safe spaces would never have gone through this but, then again, I doubt they would sign up in the first place.

  18. All the UK’s Police Forces are controlled by Common Purpose. Common Purpose is dedicated to helping in any way possible the Muslim invasion and conquest of the UK. Common Purpose is the driving force behind destroying the British Army. Common Purpose wants to leave the UK defenceless.

  19. God help us if there’s another war because the only option now would be a very speedy surrender, and May could get her wish of saving some tax money for rich luvvies by scrapping the armed forces altogether.

    we couldn’t feed the huge population, enormous cargo ships would be sitting ducks to submarines, and thanks to idiotic mass immigration there’s almost certainly a large contingent of an enemy population already here!

    God help us if any troops were taken prisoner, the enemy wouldn’t need to interrogate them, just a few inappropriate names would be sufficient to break them completely !

  20. Well the Australians have been busy on this mission for some time. Having their first “Gender x” soldier.
    one can be “gender x” too. https://www.theguardian.com
    The Australian Defence Force has been busy setting up different standards, shorter commitments and being altogether nicer in Pursuit of specific targets on Diversity, for some years. It seems a cautionary tale.

    However still it doesn’t get many female recruits even with a “part time” and “flexible” option too! Of course the report has to witter on about sexual harassment. It seems no one should seriously consider that women simply aren’t going to queue up to join military forces.
    https://www.theguardian.com
    I presume Australia doesn’t believe it needs defending. Does the US do it for them?

    • “I presume Australia doesn’t believe it needs defending.”

      If you are going to invade , first you have to bloody well get there!

      All they are going to need is some big sticks to beat the poor exhausted invaders to death as they drag themselves up the beach…;-)

    • hmmmmm, well “gender x” is actually a potential good solution for those rare persons born with the more radical forms of intersex ambiguity, where it may be medically impossible to characterise them as either male or female.

      A far better solution anyway, surely, than forcing “gender reassignment” surgery and etc upon them in infancy !!!

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