All items from ForcesWatch

12/03/2014 recent article

Letter signed by over 100, including ForcesWatch

06/03/2014 ForcesWatch comment

The Defence Select Committee have today released their report of inquiry into the MoD's Future Army 2020 plan. Amid the concerns about the strategy of increasing the proportion of reservists in relation to regular forces, the report calls on the MoD “to respond in detail to the argument that the Army could phase out the recruitment of minors without detriment to the Army 2020 plans”. Read our submission to the inquiry here.


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26/11/2013 ForcesWatch comment

Many areas of society in the UK have seen a growing involvement and/or visibility of the military and military approaches in recent years - from schools, to local communities, to ‘militainment’ (military-themed films, TV programmes, video games etc). This process of privileging and prioritising the military is often referred to as ‘militarisation’; Cynthia Enloe, one of the foremost thinkers on the subject, states that “To become militarised is to adopt militaristic values and priorities as one's own, to see military solutions as particularly effective, to see the world as a dangerous place best approached with militaristic attitudes.”

In response to the recent developments in the UK, there has been an increase in critical academic studies, media coverage, and work by campaigning organisations and others on these issues. On 19 October 2013, around 70 academics, activists, campaigners, and writers came together in London at the Militarisation in Everyday Life in the UK conference organised by ForcesWatch.

21/11/2013 ForcesWatch comment

On 15 November 2013, the Department for Education announced "£4.8 million to projects led by ex-armed forces personnel to tackle underachievement by disengaged pupils".

ForcesWatch has a number of concerns about the military-led 'alternative provision' being developed in schools: who benefits? the armed forces certainly will; military-led 'alternative provision' targets young people seen to be 'failing' - precisely those who need more options and, if channelled into the forces, are most at risk in warfare; the policy is based on limited evidence and ideological assumptions; will there be space for ethical issues around conflict to be addressed?


The Militarisation in Everyday Life in the UK conference was held in London in October 2013 and was organised by ForcesWatch. It brought together academics, writers, activists and campaigners who are researching, writing, campaigning on, or just concerned about the implications of the militarisation of everyday life in the UK.

The following 12 presentations were made at the conference. Not every presentation was filmed. For details about the conference, the programme, background reading and discussions on the day, see here.

Diana Francis, Looking at everyday militarisation


We call on the UK Government to stop its policy of allowing 15 year olds to apply and 16 and 17 year olds to be recruited into the Armed Forces. The recruitment and targeting of young people and vulnerable groups has been criticised by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. 2014 is the year to end this policy.

Sign the petition

Why is this important?

What better way to commit our country to peace during the commemoration of World War One and remember the hundreds of thousands who died from the UK alone, including boy soldiers like Rifleman V J Strudwick who was killed at 15? Why is it that in 2014 the UK is the only country in Europe - and the only country among the permanent members of the UN Security Council - to recruit 16 year olds into its armed forces?

Initiated by Pax Christi and supported by:
Baptist Peace Fellowship, Child Soldiers International, Christian CND, Columban Justice Peace & Integrity of Creation, Conscience, Fellowship of Reconciliation, ForcesWatch, Movement for the Abolition of War, National Justice & Peace Network, National Union of Teachers, Network for Peace, Northern Friends Peace Board, Peace Education Network, Peace Pledge Union, Quaker Peace & Social Witness, Student Christian Movement, War Resisters International, Woodcraft Folk, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom.

How it will be delivered

The petition will be handed to the Ministry of Defence in April 2014.

Sign the petition

Download paper version to return by 11 April 2014

Visit the petition's Facebook page

08/11/2013 ForcesWatch comment

ForcesWatch are among 24 signatories of an open letter to Mark Francois MP, Minister of State for the Armed Forces which calls for an end to the recruitment of under-18s.. The signatories include the Church of Scotland, the Church in Wales, the Unitarian Church and Catholic, Baptist, Methodist and Quaker groups and Child Soldiers International. The letter notes that as the centenary of the outbreak of World War One approaches, the recruitment and deployment age of British soldiers is lower now than it was a century ago. The signatories call on the Ministry to raise the recruitment age to 18 as a “fitting memorial” to the thousands of young soldiers killed in World War One.

08/11/2013 recent article

"We call for the minimum recruitment age to be returned to 18 years. This would be a fitting memorial to those thousands who, whether unlawfully recruited as minors during the First World War or recruited to fight in other conflicts, were exposed to death, injury and trauma that no child should ever experience."

07/11/2013 ForcesWatch comment

When I was about seven, my dad took me to the local Remembrance Day memorial. Neatly turned-out elderly men were stood in equally neat rows while The Last Post was played. I wondered why everyone looked so sad. Dad said it was because their friends had been killed in the war; this day was to remember them. I wore a poppy then and I am glad that I did.


A photo from the British Legion website showing children wearing 'Future Soldier' t-shirts - the poppy as remembrance or as a recruitment tool?  Contact them if you are concerned by this exploitation of remembrance and young people.


A ForcesWatch poster showing policy, cultural and other recent developments affecting the extent of military influence in young people's lives.




28/10/2013 recent article

In response to The Last Ambush report, the Ministry of Defence has issued a statement containing some claims that are either inaccurate or not relevant to the report’s findings. Here we respond to each claim in turn.

28/10/2013 press release

Young soldiers recruited from disadvantaged backgrounds are substantially more likely than other troops to return from war experiencing problems with their mental health, says a wide-ranging report published today by human rights group ForcesWatch.


War Trauma Hits Young Soldiers Hardest: New Report

Post-war mental health problems are most common in young soldiers from disadvantaged backgrounds; also in veterans who left the forces in the last decade.

The report, The Last Ambush?, draws on over 150 sources, including 41 British military mental health studies, as well as testimony from veterans. 

The report calls for the policy of recruiting from age 16 to be reviewed so that the greatest burden of risk is not left to the youngest, most vulnerable recruits to shoulder. 

The report includes testimony from veterans and discusses in depth:

  • how and why some veterans experience mental health problems
  • the limitations of mental health research in military groups
  • the role of adolescent maturity and childhood adversity
  • the role of military culture, structures and operations
  • the role of social and structural support after leaving the armed forces
  • why raising the minimum age of recruitment to 18 would better serve the interests of young people in respect of mental health risks

Download the full report (PDF 1294kb)

Download the Executive Summary (PDF 268kb)

Read the press release: War trauma hits young soldiers hardest: new report

Read the ForcesWatch response to the Ministry of Defence's statement about The Last Ambush, 28 October 2013

Read the

22/08/2013 article

In response to the paper, ‘Young age at Army enlistment is associated with greater war zone risks’, published by ForcesWatch and Child Soldiers International (August 2013), the Ministry of Defence have issued a statement. Here we respond to their points.