The military in society

ForcesWatch observe and respond to ways in which the military is being promoted 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.

There is concern that some government initiatives, such as Armed Forces Day, seek to manufacture a climate of uncritical national pride in the armed forces in order to garner public support for foreign policy. Policies promoting the interests of the armed forces are embedding the military into many of our civilian institutions.

Armed conflict causes enormous damage to all involved; widespread public debate about the role of the armed forces and their recruitment practices is therefore vital.

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  • Do government projects like Armed Forces Day honour armed forces personnel or seek to manufacture public support for military intervention overseas?
  • Does uncritical support for the military stifle concerns about how young people are recruited and limit debate on alternatives to war?
  • Is it appropriate for the military to be visiting schools when their objective is clearly stated as recruitment and influencing young people and should the military be involved in providing education alternatives?
  • Why is the UK the only EU country to recruit 16 year olds into the armed forces and one of very few to recruit 17 year olds? There is a growing international concensus the only adults should be recruited, yet the Ministry of Defence have denied that there is a need to review this policy.

These questions arise when we look at changes in civil-military relations changes in recent years. To explore if this amounts to a process of militarisation, we use the following to define militarism as:

  1. The normalisation of war and preparation for war.
  2. Prioritising the needs and interests of military institutions.
  3. Extension of military culture and influence into everyday life such as in education, central and local government and business, charities and other organisations.

There is much evidence to indicate that these aspects of militarism have intensified over the last decade or more. This 'new tide of militarisation' can be traced through policy and practice and adds up to a concerted effort by government and the armed forces, and supported by others, to promote the military, recruitment to the armed forces, defence spending and military approaches to conflict situations.

See more on 'What is militarism?'

What we do
  • Monitor and research developments.
  • Publish comment articles and social media.
  • Publish reports, films etc.
  • Empower local communities to take action on militarism.

 

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