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

ForcesWatch comment

16/10/2017

Douglas Beattie reports on an important campaigning moment.

09/10/2017

Our article, published in Schools Week, critiques the social impact report being used by the MoD to validate the expansion of cadets in state schools.

Cadet units are not a social panacea but a recruitment tool.

07/10/2017

Our piece in The Morning Star about the latest announcement of more cadet units in schools and the social impact report, which is very flawed in our view, that has been published to support this.

"This is premised on the militarist narrative in which the military is the highest of institutions, a school for the nation which offers a solution to all of society’s problems. This narrative is disingenuous, flawed, and dangerous."

06/10/2017

Dr Brian Belton, a leading international authority on youth work, gives his thoughts on the report: What is the social impact resulting from the expenditure on cadets? He argues that, 'the modern world does not require conformity, it demands innovation'.

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our projects

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 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.

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

Rethinking Security

This report, published by the Ammerdown Group, May 2016, explores how we can best build long-term security for people in the UK and worldwide.

The report outlines concerns about the existing model, and offer a different vision for the future. Read more

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.

Help us raise funds for Take Action on Militarism

We are crowdfunding for printing and distribution of our Take Action on Militarism resource pack and to send it as far and wide as possible. Support us here.

Take Action on Militarism: new website and resource pack 

White poppies for schools

The Peace Pledge Union and ForcesWatch are launching a new project called White Poppies for Schools. See details

Ask your MP to support raising the age of recruitment

A short film about our work

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Get in touch

We look forward to input from many different individuals and groups and welcome ideas, comments and suggestions. Please use the contact form to email us.


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

Action Man: Battlefield Casualities - watch the film and join the campaign to end armed forces recruitment at 16

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

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

09/10/2017 Various


A passionate debate was held on Sunday 8 October at the SNP Conference on Raising the Minimum Age of Military Recruitment to 18. The motion was passed!

26/09/2017 The Conversation

This article by Jonathan Parry. Lecturer in Global Ethics at the University of Birmingham, explores the dangers involved in miltary activity in schools and for the youngest recruits. It emphasises the moral risks and the 'moral exploitation' involved.

12/09/2017 Various

A letter to the Guardian (12/09/17) from more than 50 academics has called for the age of recruitment ot the UK armed forces to be raised to 18. It backs a conference motion from SNP Youth in support of this.

10/07/2017 The Guardian and The Independent

The Army's latest recruitment campaign focuses on low income families from cities with high deprivation levels.

04/07/2017 Veterans For Peace UK

A new report out today from Veterans For Peace UK details how the Army's training process has a 'forceful impact' on attitudes, health, and behaviour even before recruits are sent to war. 

04/07/2017 BBC News

BBC Panorama has uncovered evidence of repeated cover-ups of historical sex abuse in Britain's cadet forces.

13/06/2017 Huffington Post

"Joining at 16 is massively psychologically damaging and issues of PTSD, suicide and depression are major issues for veterans, and more so for teenage recruits. I think it is hugely important the recruitment age is raised. I now work with Veterans for Peace as a volunteer educating young people on the realities of war and support advocacy group Child Soldiers International, who recently launched its Declare18! campaign, to get governments to raise the age to 18."  By Wayne Sharrocks, former British Army officer