- More than 1 in 10 Army recruits are now just 16 years old
- More than 1 in 4 are under 18 – too young to be deployed
Amid ongoing controversy around the MoD’s struggling recruitment campaigns for the armed forces, figures published this week reveal that the Army has resorted to increasing numbers of 16-year-olds in an attempt to fix the recruitment shortfall.
Annual personnel figures published by the MoD on Thursday show an increase in the number of 16-year-olds recruited from 9 per cent of total Army intake in 2012/13 to 13 per cent in 2013/14. Many of them would have begun the enlistment process when they were 15 years old. More than one in four (27 per cent) Army recruits last year were under 18 – too young to be deployed into hostilities. In total numbers, recruitment figures for 16- and 17-year-olds were higher than for any other age groups.
These figures are released just a few months after the Defence Select Committee expressed frustration at the MoD’s continued failure to produce any evidence to justify its policy of recruiting minors, which research has shown to be financially and operationally unsound. The Defence Committee had previously challenged the MoD to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the policy in July 2013.