resources: recruitment age

2014


A BBC resource. Includes a final section on 'could this happen today'?

At the outbreak of war in 1914, the British Army had 700,000 available men. Germany’s wartime army was over 3.7 million. When a campaign for volunteers was launched, thousands answered the call to fight. Among them were 250,000 boys and young men under the age of 19, the legal limit for armed service overseas.

March 2014

ForcesWatch's submission to the Defence Select Committee inquiry on Military Casualties draws on our research published in The Last Ambush and concludes that:

  • The continued targeted recruitment of minors from disadvantaged backgrounds deserves to be re-appraised from the perspective of long-term mental health risks that this group faces. 
  • Where possible, we hope that the development of military health research will better specify personnel who face higher and lower risks.
  • Future research could also better account for personnel who show some symptoms of mental ill-health but are not counted as full ‘cases’ of a specific ‘disorder’. 
  • A large number of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are likely to need mental health support services for years to come.  It falls to the state to take prime responsibility for ensuring that the long-term welfare needs of injured veterans are met.  That is an expensive undertaking, which it behoves any government to appreciate and accept before deciding whether to send young men and women to war
February 2014

By William and Noah

recruitment age
November 2013

A ForcesWatch poster showing policy, cultural and other recent developments affecting the extent of military influence in young people's lives.

 

 


We call on the UK Government to stop its policy of allowing 15 year olds to apply and 16 and 17 year olds to be recruited into the Armed Forces. The recruitment and targeting of young people and vulnerable groups has been criticised by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

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Why is this important?

What better way to commit our country to peace during the commemoration of World War One and remember the hundreds of thousands who died from the UK alone, including boy soldiers like Rifleman V J Strudwick who was killed at 15? Why is it that in 2014 the UK is the only country in Europe - and the only country among the permanent members of the UN Security Council - to recruit 16 year olds into its armed forces?

Initiated by Pax Christi and supported by:
Baptist Peace Fellowship, Child Soldiers International, Christian CND, Columban Justice Peace & Integrity of Creation, Conscience, Fellowship of Reconciliation, ForcesWatch, Movement for the Abolition of War, National Justice & Peace Network, National Union of Teachers, Network for Peace, Northern Friends Peace Board, Peace Education Network, Peace Pledge Union, Quaker Peace & Social Witness, Student Christian Movement, War Resisters International, Woodcraft Folk, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom.

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28 October 2013

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.

Download the full report (PDF 1294kb)

Download the Executive Summary (PDF 268kb)

August 2013

This paper, published by ForcesWatch and Child Soldiers International, indicates that the risk of fatality in Afghanistan for British Army recruits aged 16 and completed training has been twice as high as it has for those enlisting at 18 or above. This increased risk reflects the disproportionately high number of 16 year olds who join front-line Infantry roles. This is mainly the result of recruitment policies which drive the youngest recruits into the Army’s most dangerous roles.

2013

David Gee

in Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter It, War Resisters International, 2013

Military recruitment is deeply embedded in the class and economic structures of society. Its methods, thriving on hyper-masculine fantasies of soldiering and, in consumer-capitalist societies in particular, a creeping estrangement from our most humane values, can be understood as a form of human alienation. Even so, despite the continuing success of military recruitment worldwide, it is still perhaps the Achilles heel of militarism. War depends on large numbers of people agreeing to participate in mass killing. If we can work well with young people, their parents, educators and the media, so that equally large numbers pause to reflect on what soldiers are expected to do and why, cracks might open in militarism from the bottom up.

June 2013

ForcesWatch's submission to the Defence Committee's inquiry Future Army 2020, which recomments an evaluation of the case for an independent review of the minimum age of recruitment into the Army with a view to recruiting only adults (aged 18 and above) in the future, looking at five reasons why the time is right for this.