ForcesWatch scrutinises the ethics of armed forces recruitment practices and challenges efforts to embed militarist values in civilian society.

ForcesWatch comment

18/07/2018

Today is a significant day in the Deepcut tragedy – when a family affected by the loss of their child during training at the army barracks may finally get some sense of understanding and justice after many years of battling against the military's lack of accountability.

We explore some of the problems that allowed the toxic environment of Deepcut to develop and continue to persist today and why raising the age of recruitment would provide a significant part of the solution.

15/07/2018

The following letter was sent to the Sunday Times and a version is published here.

The packaging of Farnborough International Airshow as both 'the ultimate platform for the aerospace industry to do business' and an event to 'keep the whole family entertained' is troubling.

Much of the business being done will be in weapons. All top ten global arms companies will be present.

The Futures Day is aimed at school and university students and allows weapons manufacturers to promote themselves to young people through STEM activities.

30/06/2018

As support for the military is paraded in streets across the UK at Armed Forces Day events, politicians charged with fighting the military's corner are waging their own war on public and political opinion.

your questions

whats the problem with military recruitment?

ForcesWatch believes that armed forces recruitment practices in the UK are largely unethical. The military are reaching out to children and young people using sophisticated strategies to interest and involve them in military activities which do not deal adequately with the risks of an armed forces career but tend to glamorise and sanitise war. The military also fail to adequately inform young people of the legal obligations of an armed forces career.

See here for more.

what are your other concerns?

Taking an active part in conflict involves serious ethical questions regarding the justification of killing and the political purposes of military action. The armed forces fail to adequately address these concerns during recruitment and for serving personnel.

The more government and national initiatives which are created to show support for the armed forces, the more difficult it will become for individuals and society to reflect on the ethics of conflict and peaceful alternatives. See here for more

what should I think about before I join up?

There are ethical questions and questions about why you really want to join up and about what risks you face and what happens if you decide you want to leave. There are some very useful independent sources of advice about your legal situation as a member of the armed forces and other issues. We also have a selection of materials looking at some aspects of what it is like to serve. See here for more.

what can I do about military recruitment activity in my school or community?

The military make visits to many schools and colleges and are also active at local events. If you are unhappy about the presence of the military in your community, here are some ideas of how to address it and some materials to use. See here for more.

what have other people said about their experiences?

Very often the most useful insights into what it is like to be involved in anything is to hear directly from other people about what they have experienced. Here are some accounts of both what it is like to serve in the armed forces and what it is like to challenge the presence of the military in a community. See here for more.

how do you respond to those who don't agree with you?

We don't expect everyone to agree with us but we think there is significant cause for concern about military recruitment practices and about the way that a climate of uncritical national pride in the armed forces is being fostered which makes debate about the activities of the armed forces difficult to question. We think there should be more room for that debate. See more here.

#ResistMilitarism on Armed Forces Day 2018

In the run up to Armed Forces Day on 30 June we provide background information on how this and other public events are part of a concerted effort to increase general support for the military amongst the public, stifle criticism and recruit young people. We list events that challenge the militarism of Armed Forces Day with messages of peace and resistance.

our projects

ForcesWatch raises concerns about the recruitment of 16 and 17 year olds into the armed forces, the lack of recognition of conscientious objection and restrictive and unclear terms of service.

The armed forces visit thousands of UK schools each year, offering careers presentations, curriculum resources and other activities. The Department for Education are integrating activities with a 'military ethos' into Britain's education system. Should the armed forces be given access to children within education? Is the military's agenda and the promotion of 'military ethos' appropriate within schools?

ForcesWatch monitor and challenge the promotion of the military as a normal part of everyday life. We believe that uncritical support for the armed forces stifles concerns about how young people are recruited and limits debate on alternatives to war.

Book: confronting a culture of militarism

At a comfortable distance from warfare, our culture easily passes over its horrific reality in favour of an appealing, even romantic, spectacle of war. Yet, over the last decade, most Britons have opposed Western military ventures abroad. This book takes a fresh look at a culture of militarism in Britain, public resistance to it, and the government's prodigious efforts to regain control of the story we tell ourselves about war.  See details & buy book

 

Also see our longer film with speakers from the Take Action on Militarism event.

'Our security' competition for schools & teaching resources

Our security image

We are working with the Rethinking Security network and Quakers in Britain to develop school resources on 'our security'.

Take Action on Militarism: new website & resource pack

Ask your MP to support raising the age of recruitment

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Support our work

Make a donation to our work or find out more about how you can help.


Watch on YouTube
A funny short film by a young boy on The Militarization of Boys

Before You Sign Up

Contact us to get a free batch of these cards (or our other free materials) to distribute.

Watch this series of short fims on YouTube
16 or 17 and want to be a soldier? Watch this first.

British army: one young recruit's story, The Guardian 2013


Watch on YouTube
A 4 part investigation into 'the soldier myth' - talking to front-line soldiers about recruitment, training, fighting and coming home

Talks about militarism by David Gee and Ben Griffin from the Creeping Militarisation of Everyday Life conference. 

A very short film about our work

The Unseen March - short film with former SAS Ben Griffin, activist Mark Thomas and educationalists on ‘military ethos’ in schools. With briefings, resources and action ideas.

Teenagers voice their reaction to the military’s interest in their lives. See film and more info. With Welsh subtitles

latest news

25/06/2018

A new report by a leading defence academic reveals how a 'militarisation offensive' – which began in 2006 to create support for the Afghan war - has increased the military's influence on British politics and society. (2)

08/06/2018 The Guardian

The British army has targeted recruitment material at “stressed and vulnerable” 16-year-olds via social media on and around GCSE results day, the Guardian can reveal.

04/06/2018

With the publication of the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee report on our petition on armed forces visits to schools, there has been substantial coverage in the news.

04/06/2018 ForcesWatch and Quakers in Scotland press release (1)

Quakers in Scotland and ForcesWatch welcome the recommendations made in a report from the Scottish Parliament about armed forces activities in schools.

15/05/2018 The Guardian

Drive to fast-track late joiners at AFC Harrogate led to issues including skewing staff/student ratios in dangerous activities.

06/05/2018 The Guardian

The army has been accused of manipulating teenage soldiers by spoonfeeding them identikit quotes to be used in local and regional newspaper articles extolling life in the military.

20/03/2018

On the day that the Harrogate abuse court martials were dropped and the press was allowed to comment after reporting restrictions were lifted, there was coverage in almost all the major news outlets. Our comments, and those of partner organisations, were also reported.