On 15 November 2013, the Department for Education announced "£4.8 million to projects led by ex-armed forces personnel to tackle underachievement by disengaged pupils".
ForcesWatch has a number of concerns about the military-led 'alternative provision' being developed in schools: who benefits? the armed forces certainly will; military-led 'alternative provision' targets young people seen to be 'failing' - precisely those who need more options and, if channelled into the forces, are most at risk in warfare; the policy is based on limited evidence and ideological assumptions; will there be space for ethical issues around conflict to be addressed?
ForcesWatch are among 24 signatories of an open letter to Mark Francois MP, Minister of State for the Armed Forces which calls for an end to the recruitment of under-18s.. The signatories include the Church of Scotland, the Church in Wales, the Unitarian Church and Catholic, Baptist, Methodist and Quaker groups and Child Soldiers International. The letter notes that as the centenary of the outbreak of World War One approaches, the recruitment and deployment age of British soldiers is lower now than it was a century ago. The signatories call on the Ministry to raise the recruitment age to 18 as a “fitting memorial” to the thousands of young soldiers killed in World War One.
David Gee, ForcesWatch
When I was about seven, my dad took me to the local Remembrance Day memorial. Neatly turned-out elderly men were stood in equally neat rows while The Last Post was played. I wondered why everyone looked so sad. Dad said it was because their friends had been killed in the war; this day was to remember them. I wore a poppy then and I am glad that I did.
A study published in the Lancet called Violent offending by UK military personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan has found that men in the UK armed forces are more likely to have been convicted of violent offences than their civilian peers. The study shows a strong link with age – that fighting and being traumatised by it tends to make those in younger age groups more likely to be violent afterwards.
Unpacking ‘recruitment’: what does the MoD mean when it says the armed forces do not run recruitment activities in schools?
Our education campaigner looks at the MoD's assertion that the armed forces do not go into schools for recruitment purposes. This is based on a definition of 'recruitment' that limits it to 'signing up' there and then. We argue that the armed forces are indeed recruiting in schools and that 'recruitment' is a broader activity that involves interesting young people in the idea of enlisting by engaging in the range of activities from careers talks to visits to bases.
2012 was the the first year 'in at least a generation' in which a greater number of currently-serving US Army soldiers killed themselves (177) than were killed in active duty (176).
Owen Everett, ForcesWatch
A play about and starring injured veterans, and recent government data and policies, highlights their suffering.
Earlier this month the Department for Education published a statement on their website outlining their ambition to promote a military ethos in schools across the country. Through developing projects such as Troops to Teachers and expanding schemes such as the cadets and other alternative military provision in schools (such as Challenger Troop), the government is now actively encouraging schools, especially newer Academies and Free Schools, which tend to exist in more disadvantaged areas, to foster a military ethos. This article was originally published on Bright Green
The incursion of the military into the British education system will mean that alternatives to war and peaceful ways of resolving conflict will be more difficult for young people to explore. In the long term we will all pay a heavy price.
Owen Everett, ForcesWatch
Each of the episodes from both series of Our War focuses on a different platoon or company, with varying missions during their tours in Helmand Province (which dated from between 2006 and 2012). Common themes to each of them include the youth of those involved, and the gravity of what is being asked of them.