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

ForcesWatch comment

10/11/2018

The century since the end of the First World War has seen significant development in thinking around war trauma. We explore what the current lack of recognition of moral injury and the part it plays in mental health says about our attitude to war and serving personnel.

08/11/2018

While militarism has long been a central dynamic in British history, it has current manifestations that are particular to the present day. We look at key aspects of 'the new tide of militarisation' in the UK and list further sources of information on everyday militarism.

12/10/2018

With recent announcements about cadets in schools and Cyber Cadets, we critique government commissioned research and political thinking that could lead to a far wider introduction of cadets and the harnessing of young people into 'tackling security threats'.

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.

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

These presentations were recorded at the launch of the report Warrior Nation: War, Militarisation and British democracy by Paul Dixon (published by ForcesWatch) on 25 June 2018 in London:  

  • Warrior Nation: war, militarisation and British democracy, by Professor Paul Dixon   
  • Military Britain by Professor Joanna Bourke
  • Militarism in public life in the UK, Emma Sangster, Coordinator of ForcesWatch

Watch all the films

Remembrance Day - Sunday 11 Nov 2018 ​

Ceremony of Remembrance and Peace 100 years after the end of the First World War, 1pm in Tavistock Sq, London WC1. With readings by actor Michael Mears, poetry reading and placing of white poppies on the Conscientious Objectors’ Stone.

Meet activists and find out about current campaigns, 2–5pm, Friends House, Euston Rd, London NW1. With live music, stalls, a children's programme led by the Woodcraft Folk, plus books and food available from the Cafe. Organised by WW1 Peace Forum. ForcesWatch will be there!  All welcome!

See a list of other remembrance & commemoration events.

A new film about recent militarism and the battle for the hearts and minds of young people in the UK. The film follows the stories of Ben Griffin, former SAS soldier and founder of Veterans for Peace UK, and Quaker activist Sam Walton, and features the work of ForcesWatch and partner organisations. See here for screenings and how to organise one. You can also watch the film free online for a few days over the Remembrance weekend - see on Facebook and Vimeo

White poppies for schools

The schools pack includes white poppies and copies of the learning resource and white poppy leaflets. See details.

Take Action on Militarism: new website & resource pack

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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

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

A very short film about our work

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

09/09/2018 The Guardian

Recruitment drive focuses on teenagers seeking adrenaline, says Child Soldiers International

08/09/2018 The Observer

Petition launched after members claim partnership with military runs counter to the Guides’ peace ethos

01/09/2018 The Observer

Defence groups sponsor lessons that promote building and sale of military hardware

29/07/2018 The Guardian

ICM survey was commissioned by campaigners against child soldiers

25/07/2018 ForcesWatch press release

The Defence Select Committee recommended that the Ministry of Defence ‘conducts or commissions further research into female personnel, early Service leavers and recruits under 18 to determine the extent to which they are at higher risk of developing mental health conditions.’

25/06/2018

A new report by a leading defence academic reveals how a 'militarisation offensive' – which began in 2006 to create support for the Afghan war - has increased the military's influence on British politics and society. (2)

08/06/2018 The Guardian

The British army has targeted recruitment material at “stressed and vulnerable” 16-year-olds via social media on and around GCSE results day, the Guardian can reveal.

04/06/2018

With the publication of the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee report on our petition on armed forces visits to schools, there has been substantial coverage in the news.