resources: recruitment age

March 2019

At the launch event for our report with Medact on Selling the Military: A critical analysis of contemporary recruitment marketing in the UK, contributors and participants told us why they think this is an important issue.

This presentation summarises our Selling the Military report.

February 2019

This report, written by ForcesWatch and published with the public health charity Medact,  analyses the way the armed forces market their careers to adolescents and young people, creating powerful messages that which exploit developmental vulnerabilities and social inequality, risking the health and well-being of recruits. Narratives of camaraderie and self-development also serve to promote an uncontroversial and depoliticised idea of the military more widely which promote self-fulfilment in the context of conflict.

July 2018

The nationwide survey found 72% of people who expressed a view believed young people should not be able to join the army until they are 18.

recruitment age
April 2018

This submission made by ForcesWatch and Quakers in Scotland to the Scottish Parliament's human rights inquiry details our concerns around the need for regulation and transparent accountability of military activities in schools, the lack of education about peace and human rights, and the continued recruitment of children into the UK armed forces.

We refer to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, recommendations made by the Committee on the Rights of the Child for change in the UK's policy and practice, and support for our concerns by child rights organisations. We make a number of recommendations regarding how the Scottich Parliament can more vigorously support childrens rights in Scotland.

March 2018

Written evidence submitted by ForcesWatch to the Defence Committee's Armed Forces and Veterans Mental Health Inquiry.

We conclude that:

More independent research, in anonymised conditions, needs to be carried out in a number of areas, including:

  • The relationship between early enlistment (especially junior entry), prior vulnerabilities such as socio-economic disadvantage, and short and long-term health impacts.
  • The connection between military training and mental ill-health.
  • Developmental issues that affect adolescents in particular, for example in assessing and appreciating long-term risk and making an informed decision to enlist.
  • Moral injury and how issues of conscience impact mental health.

Steps should be taken to improve legal procedures by which claims of harassment and bullying are investigated and incidents are reported within the military.

In order to avoid mental health risks to young soldiers, junior entry recruitment of those under 18 should end. There needs to be greater understanding about pre-enlistment risk factors for psychological ill-health such as socio-economic disadvantage and childhood adversity, and a consequent shift away from recruitment marketing that targets vulnerable groups.

October 2017

ForcesWatch have teamed up with Quaker Peace & Social Witness to produce a resource pack to help people take action on militarism in their communities. And there is a new website to go with it where you can downlaod the pack or order a hard copy, find links to more resources etc.

 

2017

 It is estimated that there were 250,000 boy soldiers – those under 18 – in the armed forces in the First World War. Recent research estimates that there were also more than 100,000 Navy volunteers were under the legal combat age.

These films and resources explore the underage soldiers of WW1

Boy Soldiers (World War 1) by Simple History, 2018

June 2017

This report 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. The findings show that military training and culture combine with pre-existing issues (such as a childhood history of anti-social behaviour) to increase the risk of violence and alcohol misuse. Traumatic war experiences further exacerbate the problem.

The report explains that the main purpose of army training is to mould young civilians as soldiers who will follow orders by reflex and kill on demand. It demands unquestioning obedience, stimulates aggression and antagonism, overpowers a healthy person’s inhibition to killing, and dehumanises the opponent in the recruit’s imagination. Recruits are taught that stressful situations are overcome through dominance.

The First Ambush? Effects of army training and employment (70pp) draws on veterans’ testimony and around 200 studies, mainly from the UK and US, to explore the effects of army employment on recruits, particularly during initial training.

 

May 2017

In early 2017, the Ministry of Defence, and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, praised the social mobility prospects offered by the military. They presented the military as a champion of social mobility for those who enlist in the lower ranks, and for recruits from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds with low educational attainment.

This briefing explores if these claims about social mobility stand up to scrutiny or whether enlisting in the armed forces can have a negative impact upon social mobility, particularly for very young recruits.

January 2017

Army adverts don't tell you what being a soldier is really like.

At 17, Wayne Sharrocks joined the infantry. His training made him obey the army completely, until it had control of how he thought and what he did. He says that by the end of his training he could have killed another person right in front of him 'at the flick of a switch' with ‘an insane amount of aggression’. He now thinks army training is 'massively damaging' to the mind of a young person.

After he turned 18 Wayne was sent to Afghanistan. There he saw a friend’s legs ripped off and another friend killed. He was injured in the face. Nothing in his training could protect him or his friends.

He couldn't just ‘switch off’ his army training after he left, he says, which caused him all sorts of problems.

Now Wayne thinks that the army shouldn’t be recruiting 16 and 17 year-olds. While it still does, he believes it's better to wait until you’re 18 before deciding whether to join up.

Find out about Wayne's time in the army in these 3-minute videos: