ForcesWatch's work includes raising the following issues in Parliament, the media and the armed forces.
- concerns over the recruitment of under 18 year olds
- terms of service are complicated, confusing and severely restricting, yet unlike any other employment, breaching them can lead to a criminal conviction
- the system for registering a conscientious objection is opaque and little information about it is available to serving personnel
- those in the armed forces are excluded from much human rights legislation. They are not allowed to form a union, speak in public or join political organisations
ForcesWatch observe and respond to ways in which the military is being promoted 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.
The UK armed forces visit around 11,000 schools and colleges each year. Their teams offer presentations, ‘careers' sessions (including mock interviews), team activities, lessons plans, away days, and much more. In addition, the Department for Education have created a 'military ethos in schools programme'. The programme include a major expansion of Combined Cadet Forces in disadvantaged English state schools, the Troops to Teachers scheme, the development of military 'academies' and 'free schools', and 'alternative provison with a military ethos'
Should the armed forces by given access to children within education? How can we challenge their activities in schools and colleges? How can a more balanced view of what life in the armed forces involves be given to young people?