All items from ForcesWatch

01/10/2014 recent article

Our Education Campaign worker Owen Everett was interviewed for a new short film about conscientious objectors during the First World War, 'Watford's Quiet Heroes: Resisting the Great War'. His full interview, in which he talks about ForcesWatch's three main areas of work scrutinising UK military recruitment and the influence of the military and military approaches today, is available to watch on YouTube (it is also one of the extra features on the DVD, which can be bought here). You can also watch a video of Owen and others speaking on the relevance of the film and the questions it raises to the situation today, as part of a panel at the launch of the film, here

01/11/2014 recent article

In the last month or so ForcesWatch have facilitated several critical thinking workshops on the military's youth engagement for schools, colleges, youth groups, and the general public recently, including in Bath, Edinburgh, Neath, and Oxford. See our Facebook page for photos. 

If you can recommend our workshops to a teacher, or would like to do a workshop on our behalf, email Owen at education@forceswatch.net, or phone 020 7837 2822.

22/10/2014 ForcesWatch comment

This year over 550 schools around the country have had a Red, White and Blue Day on 11th October, which involves pupils raising money for three military charities by wearing red, white and blue clothing (the colours of the Union flag), or holding another fundraising event.

06/10/2014

By David Gee, published by ForcesWatch late October 2014

At a comfortable distance from warfare, our culture easily passes over its horrific reality in favour of an appealing, even romantic, spectacle of war. Militarism, past and present, attempts to control public opinion by aligning it with its own worldview. Yet, over the last decade, most Britons have opposed Western military ventures abroad, and some veterans - once recruited, controlled and partly dehumanised to prepare them for war - now challenge militarism and our own participation in its controlling dynamic.  

In his new book, Spectacle, Reality, Resistance: Confronting a culture of militarism, published by ForcesWatch (www.forceswatch.net), David Gee takes a fresh look at a culture of militarism in Britain, exploring these dynamics – distance, romance, control – in three essays, accompanied by three shorter pieces about the cultural treatment of war and resistance to the government's increasingly prodigious efforts to regain control of the story we tell ourselves about war.

30/10/2013 ForcesWatch comment

This article was originally published on Information for Social Change.

The encroachment of the UK military and ‘military ethos’ on the UK education system means that alternatives to war and peaceful ways of resolving conflict will be more difficult for young people to explore.

Young people – children – around the world encounter the military and military approaches in many different ways, from the presence of military personnel and hardware in public spaces; to military youth groups such as the cadets; Armed Forces advertisements online and on television; video games developed by or with the military; and military involvement in education. They are encouraged to see the military and military approaches as normal, necessary, often the best solution to problems/conflicts, and – crucially - to be supported, not questioned.

12/09/2014

This paper, published by ForcesWatch and Child Soldiers International, shows that the taxpayer would save approximately £50 million per annum if the minimum age of recruitment were raised to 18; it would also result in the army needing to find about 211 fewer new recruits annually, based on current numbers joining the trained strength.

The paper concludes that the case to cease recruiting from age 16 is now overwhelming and urges a full, independent review of the policy, with a view to phasing out the recruitment of minors as an unnecessary, cost-ineffective, and fundamentally unethical practice.

12/09/2014

Published by ForcesWatch and Child Soldiers International, September 2014

Our findings show that the taxpayer would save approximately £50 million per annum if the minimum age of recruitment were raised to 18; it would also result in the army needing to find about 211 fewer new recruits annually, based on current numbers joining the trained strength.

The paper concludes that the case to cease recruiting from age 16 is now overwhelming and urges a full, independent review of the policy, with a view to phasing out the recruitment of minors as an unnecessary, cost-ineffective, and fundamentally unethical practice.

Download the paper

"The army careers advisers who operate in schools are skilled salesmen." Head of Army recruitment strategy, quoted in New Statesman, 2007

The armed forces have a growing involvement in secondary schools, colleges and even primary schools. While the Army, Navy and RAF have long run activities in schools as part of the Ministry of Defence's Youth Engagement programme, the Department for Education have recently begun to promote a 'military ethos' within education.

This A4 leaflet (2014) outlines the issue and what the concerns are.

A short film made by Headliners and ForcesWatch, 2014

Why does the military have a 'youth engagement' policy and why is the government promoting 'military ethos' within education? What is the impact of military activities taking place in schools? ForcesWatch have been working with the charity Headliners and a group of young people in London to produce this short film which explores these questions and gives teenagers the opportunity to voice their reaction to the military’s interest in their lives.

The film focuses on military activities in schools, including presentations and other visits by the armed forces and the Department for Education's 'Military Ethos in Schools' policy - as well as community cadet forces. It looks at young people's experiences and views and ask questions about the agenda behind the 'youth engagement' policy and the reluctance of the Department for Education and Ministry of Defence to discuss it with young people themselves.

This film will encourage young people to reflect on and debate military-related activities aimed at them.

01/07/2014 ForcesWatch comment

On Thursday 26 June 2014, we launched our new short documentary film 'Engage: the military and young people', at Friends House in London. A packed and diverse audience watched the film, which was very well-received. Speakers included Ben Griffin, founder of Veterans for Peace UK, Sam Hepworth from Headliners (the youth journalists charity who made the film) and some of the young filmmakers, and Owen Everett, Education Campaign worker at ForcesWatch.

28/06/2014 ForcesWatch comment

Letter to The Times (see all signatories below)

On this day 100 years ago, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo in an action that led to the First World War. Unchecked militarism in Europe was also a major factor. 

Today is also Armed Forces Day, one of the clearest indications of the re-militarisation of British society. Established in 2009 to increase public support for the forces, there are over 200 public events, many billed as 'family fun days'. This week also saw Uniform to Work Day promoting the reserve forces and 'Camo Day' in schools. 

28/06/2014 ForcesWatch comment


This article was originally published on openDemocracy

Armed Forces Day represents a major shift in military-civil relations over the last 6 or 7 years that has seen the embedding of the military in civilian institutions in a way never seen before. What will be the impact on how we, as a society, view and accept military activities and military approaches? How will the promotion of the military affect young people as the next generation of 'future soldiers'?

23/06/2014 press release

A week after the government pledged a further £1 million for more cadet forces in state secondary schools, a new film is launched which shows that many young people are critical of the promotion of military activities in their schools.

13/05/2014 ForcesWatch comment

This article explains what we mean by  'military academies' and 'military free schools', and explores the concerns that they raise: the lack of evidence that they will raise attainment; that they can employ unqualified teachers; their limited accountability to the local community; the fact that they can set their own curriculum. Crucially, there are various agendas behind military academies and free schools, including providing employment for the growing number of veterans, and encouraging pupils to join the armed forces after they leave school. There is also unease about what military-style discipline would look like in a school environment.

12/03/2014 recent article

Letter signed by over 100, including ForcesWatch