The Militarisation in Everyday Life in the UK conference was held in London in 2013 and was organised by ForcesWatch. It brought together academics, writers, activists and campaigners concerned about the implications of the militarisation of everyday life in the UK. 12 presentations were filmed. For more details and background reading, see here.
BBC Newsbeat article and video
BBC Newsbeat article and video
This report from ForcesWatch, shows that young soldiers recruited from disadvantaged backgrounds are substantially more likely than other troops to return from war experiencing problems with their mental health. It 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.
A play about and starring injured veterans, and recent government data and policies, highlights their suffering.
There are two plays on in London's West End currently that depict life in the UK military, and they do so critically. Our Boys', by Jonathan Lewis, at the Duchess Theatre is a revival, having first been performed in 1993. Sandi Toksvig's Bully Boy is at the St James Theatre. There is considerable similarity in the themes of the two plays: why young men join the armed forces, how they are often neglected when injured, and the horror of contemporary war in general.
Poetry about war is perhaps the most immediate way of understanding what it is to be involved, or caught up in, conflict. The War Poetry website is a great resource, listing famous poets from the first world war alongisde little known contemporary poets with much to say about modern warfare. Most of the poems on the site are written by people who have expereienced conflict, many from Iraq, Afghanistan and the Falklands war. Below is a favourite by Danny Martin.
On the 9 April 2012 the UK group of Veterans for Peace was launched. The movement has been long established in the US – ‘exposing the true costs of war and militarism since 1985’.
2018 update, USA
“Before You Enlist!” provides a rational voice to counter the seductive and often deceptive recruiting practices of the U.S. military. The message is not “don’t enlist” but rather to provide young people and their families a more complete picture of the life-altering consequences of joining the military – especially in wartime. Latest version: 2018. This short film is from the US so many of the details about recruitment are different from the UK, but the general questions to ask 'before you enlist' are similar.
An independent report by David Gee, published in 2007, highlighting the risks posed to young people through joining the military, how young people from disadvantaged communities are targeted, how information available to potential recruits is often misleading and how the terms of service are complicated, confusing and severely restricting. The research found that a large proportion join for negative reasons, including the lack of civilian career options.
The Winter Soldier project, organised by the United States based group, Iraq Veterans Against War, details eyewitness accounts from Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of the testimony focuses on the individual soldier’s experience and how they felt about their participation and actions. Six episodes have been created for web viewing (or can be downloaded), e.g. Broken Soldier which tells the stories of 3 soldiers.