Army helps jobseekers towards employment

Midlands SPEAR (Supporting People into Employment with the Army Reserve) is a pilot scheme created by 143 (West Midlands) Brigade which has caught the attention of government ministers and, if successful, could be rolled out across the UK.

Midlands SPEAR (Supporting People into Employment with the Army Reserve) is a pilot scheme created by 143 (West Midlands) Brigade which has caught the attention of government ministers and, if successful, could be rolled out across the UK.

Run in partnership with Jobcentre Plus (JCP), Jobs Enterprise Training (JET) and Stoke College, it is the brainchild of Community Engagement Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Ray Miller.

As well as boosting the skills and confidence of unemployed people aged 18 to 30 in the Stoke-on-Trent area, an exciting and intensive 4-week course also aims to promote awareness of the Army Reserve, what it has to offer potential employees and employers, and to improve working relationships with other agencies.

Weeks 1 and 2 will involve participants attending Army Reserve units in local areas and learning workplace-recognised skills in a military environment.

This will involve team-building and motivation, health and safety and plant/power tools safe operation, and workplace first aid.… Read more

Fighting the ‘Battle of the Narrative’: Communicating Army 2020

A recent course organised for influencers was designed to convey the British Army’s response to a changing strategic landscape. Despite redeployment from  Afghanistan and Reserve reorganisation, this exercise emphasised that the British Army is still very much in the war-fighting business.

Although it has been three years since the political decisions about future British defence capabilities were first formally articulated, debate rages on as the implications continue to be scrutinised beneath media and parliamentary spotlights. For the army in particular, discussion surrounding the wholesale transformation of its force structure – as prompted by the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) and subsequent spending reviews – has been compounded by the emotional fall-out inherent to job cuts, the loss of regiments and changes to the Regular-Reserve balance. And with the 2015 SDSR looming, and the possibility of further cuts,[1] there seems to be little sign that the furore is waning.

From the army’s perspective, however, the time for debating the merits of change is long gone. Indeed, implementation of the measures set out last year in Army 2020 and Future Reserves 2020 is already well underway.

Smaller budgets, the end of combat operations in Afghanistan, and an assessment of the likely nature of future military engagements – not to mention the return of soldiers from Germany and the consolidation of UK-based troops into ‘super garrisons’ – has served to inform the shape and structure of the army after 2014.… Read more

‘We need more wars’: Head of controversial private outsourcing firm blames lack of conflict for spectacular collapse in Army recruitment since it took charge

The head of a controversial private outsourcing firm accused of presiding over a collapse in Army recruitment has attempted to blame a lack of war for its failure to sign up new soldiers.

The number of people attending army interviews and selection tests to be regular soldiers has fallen by 35 per cent since Capita took charge of hiring new recruits from the Ministry of Defence in March.

But when asked to explain its failure to maintain manpower levels Capita’s chief executive suggested it was partly down to potential new recruits having too little to do.

“We have the disadvantage that we actually have no wars on,” Paul Pindar told the Public Accounts Committee.

“Soldiers like to join the Army when they actually have something to do.” When MPs expressed surprise at the statement he added: “You can pull faces at me but actually it is something that is factually true.”

Mr Pindar said that recruitment had also been hit by the general improved economic situation in Britain and the failures of a new IT system that his company had been told would be up and running when it took over the contract.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee, described his comments on war as “awful”.… Read more

Expand cadet force to encourage youngsters to join forces, defence minister suggests

Britain’s cadet force could be expanded to encourage more youngsters to join the Armed Forces, a defence minister has suggested.

Lord Astor of Hever indicated that the Government would support spending more money on the cadet forces amid growing controversy over the Coalition’s plan to increase the number of reservists in the military.

He made the comments in response to a question by Admiral Lord West, the former First Sea Lord, who said that ministers should be “growing” the cadet forces because statistics show that 30 per cent of the youngsters go on to be Non-commissioned officers in the Armed Forces.

It came in a debate in the House of Lords about the Coalition’s controversial plans to replace regular soldiers with part-time reservists.

Ministers are hoping to use reserve forces to make up for around 30,000 full-time personnel being lost to defence cuts.

By 2018, the Coalition needs 30,000 fully trained Army reservists, 3,100 for the Navy and 1,800 for the RAF, a total of 34,900.

However, some defence chiefs fear the reserves cannot be expanded so quickly. Official statistics from the Ministry of Defence show the Future Reserve 2020 volunteer reserve now stands at 21,870, down from a year ago.… Read more

Welsh bishops urge army to raise enlistment age to 18

The Ministry of Defence has come under pressure from the Church in Wales and campaign group Child Soldiers International which is calling for an end to recruitment of under-18s to the Army

All the bishops from the Church in Wales – including Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan – are among a number of co-signatories to an open letter from the campaign group Child Soldiers International calling for an end to recruitment of under-18s to the Army.

Other signatories include the Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, convenor of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, and peace groups run by Christians including Baptists, Methodists, Roman Catholics and Quakers.

The MoD enlists soldiers at 16 and deploys from the age of 18, but still refuses to implement a total ban on deployment of under-18s, the letter, addressed to defence minister Mark Francois said.

“We commend the MoD for having ceased routinely deploying children into conflict, but challenge its failure to stop recruiting them,” the letter said.

“Current recruitment policy channels the youngest most disadvantaged recruits into the most dangerous frontline combat roles.

“Those recruited at 16 have faced double the risk of fatality of adult recruits throughout the conflict in Afghanistan.”

Even during the First World War the minimum recruitment age was 18, and only those aged 19 or over were sent overseas to fight, the letter said, although it was known that many younger boys slipped through, the letter added.… Read more

Bishops attack army on recruitment of minor while teen enlistment figures plummet

  • Recruitment of 16-year-olds down 40% on previous year
  • Former Armed Forces minister says “Time is right” to review recruitment age

The Church of Scotland and the Bishops of the Church in Wales are among the signatories of an open letter to the Ministry of Defence this week calling for an end to the recruitment of under-18s. The signatories, which also include the Unitarian Church, Quakers in Britain, Catholic, Baptist, and Methodist groups, call on the MoD to raise the recruitment age as a “fitting memorial” to the thousands of young soldiers killed in World War One.

The letter has been made public on the same day that Child Soldiers International released new analysis of MoD figures which demonstrates plummeting enlistment levels among 16-year-olds and rising drop-out rates from training. The research finds that:

  • Last year just 880 16-year-olds enlisted in the Army, 40% fewer than the year before (1,470) and just a quarter of the number enlisted a decade earlier (3,600).
  • The dramatic fall in intake has been matched by rising drop-out rates. Of all the 16-year-olds recruited by the Army last year, figures just released show that nearly half (410) left during training.
  • The number of 17-year-olds has also fallen steadily, with about a third as many joining the forces last year (1,550) as were enlisted a decade earlier (5,035).
Read more

Open letter to Minister of State for the Armed Forces on armed forces recruitment age

Open letter to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) calling for an end to the recruitment of under-18s. Signatories include the Church of Scotland and the Bishops of the Church in Wales, as well as the Unitarian Church, Quakers in Britain, Catholic, Baptist, and Methodist groups. They call on the MoD to raise the recruitment age as a “fitting memorial” to the thousands of young soldiers killed in World War One.

“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.”

The letter has been made public on the same day that Child Soldiers International released new analysis of MoD figures which demonstrates plummeting enlistment levels among 16-year-olds and rising drop-out rates from training.… Read more

What colour poppy will you wear on Remembrance Sunday?

Interesting poll and discussion on wearing a poppy.

Remembrance Sunday takes place this weekend, to commemorate those who have served their country in armed conflicts. While many people will be wearing the traditional red poppy, some will opt for a white one. The white poppy is seen by some as less divisive – particularly in Northern Ireland. If you do choose to wear a poppy, which colour do you prefer to wear?… Read more

In praise of the white poppy

Jill Segger considers the growing appeal of the white poppy

Jill Segger considers the growing appeal of the white poppy

The season of remembrance is upon us once more . Last year, I wrote of the red poppy as a ‘compromised symbol’ (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/15709) and this November, it seems appropriate to consider the growing appeal of the white poppy in a time of change.

It was in the years following World War I that support for a different way of memorialising began to emerge. Women took a lead in this movement towards change. Those who had lost sons, husbands, fathers, brothers and lovers to the slaughter or who lived with men maimed in body or mind – some of whose suffering was a result of imprisonment for their refusal to fight – were influential in the ‘No More War’ movement.

In 1926, the movement asked the British Legion to put the words ‘no more war’ in the centre of the red poppy instead of ‘The Haig Fund’. The idea was not accepted but it did not wither away. And with the support of the Cooperative Women’s Guild, the first white poppies appeared in 1933.

The carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan has brought the destruction of war centre-stage for those of us who were born after 1945 (and it is worth remembering that since that date, there has only been one year in which British forces were not involved in armed conflict somewhere in the world).… Read more