news, info, resources

Recent news & articles

09/10/2017 Various A passionate debate was held on Sunday 8 October at the SNP Conference on Raising the Minimum Age of Military Recruitment to 18. The motion was passed!
26/09/2017 The Conversation This article by Jonathan Parry. Lecturer in Global Ethics at the University of Birmingham, explores the dangers involved in miltary activity in schools and for the youngest recruits. It emphasises the moral risks and the 'moral exploitation' involved.
12/09/2017 Various A letter to the Guardian (12/09/17) from more than 50 academics has called for the age of recruitment ot the UK armed forces to be raised to 18. It backs a conference motion from SNP Youth in support of this.
10/07/2017 The Guardian and The Independent The Army's latest recruitment campaign focuses on low income families from cities with high deprivation levels.
04/07/2017 Veterans For Peace UK A new report out today from Veterans For Peace UK details how the Army's training process has a 'forceful impact' on attitudes, health, and behaviour even before recruits are sent to war. 
04/07/2017 BBC News BBC Panorama has uncovered evidence of repeated cover-ups of historical sex abuse in Britain's cadet forces.

latest resources

August 2017

With Remembrance Day coming up this coming Autumn term, we've been thinking about ways to introduce more schools to the white poppy's message of a commitment to peace.

ForcesWatch last year wrote a resource for teachers called 'Rethinking Remembrance Day in Schools', which explores how remembrance can be used to encourage critical thinking and foster a culture of peace, rather than sanitising, simplifying or even glorifying war. We received very positive feedback from teachers on this resource, and we would like to reach more with it this year.

With this new project, the Peace Pledge Union and ForcesWatch will work with local groups around the UK to provide schools with a White Poppies for Schools Pack. The pack includes 100 White Poppies in a display box, alongside an information pack with 10 White Poppy information leaflets and ten Rethinking Remembrance Day resources.

The Information Pack would be ideal for a teacher to leave in the staff room and announce in a staff meeting, and perhaps place a few of the White Poppy information leaflets on noticeboards or near the white poppies.

As small organisations we are unable to give these packs to schools for free - and many schools will not be able to purchase them themselves. So we're reaching out to local organisations or groups committed to peace, and campaigning against militarism and war, to purchase the packs and gift them to a nearby school.

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June 2017

This report from Veterans For Peace UK details how the Army's training process has a forceful impact on attitudes, health, and behaviour even before recruits are sent to war. The findings show that military training and culture combine with pre-existing issues (such as a childhood history of anti-social behaviour) to increase the risk of violence and alcohol misuse. Traumatic war experiences further exacerbate the problem.

The report explains that the main purpose of army training is to mould young civilians as soldiers who will follow orders by reflex and kill on demand. It demands unquestioning obedience, stimulates aggression and antagonism, overpowers a healthy person’s inhibition to killing, and dehumanises the opponent in the recruit’s imagination. Recruits are taught that stressful situations are overcome through dominance.

The First Ambush? Effects of army training and employment (70pp) draws on veterans’ testimony and around 200 studies, mainly from the UK and US, to explore the effects of army employment on recruits, particularly during initial training.

 

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May 2017

In early 2017, the Ministry of Defence, and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, praised the social mobility prospects offered by the military. They presented the military as a champion of social mobility for those who enlist in the lower ranks, and for recruits from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds with low educational attainment.

Michael Fallon was referring to figures that show that slightly under a third of officers across the forces progressed from lower ranks; he commended the Potential Officer Development Programme for demonstrating the military’s ‘commitment to social mobility.’

General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the General Staff, suggested that social mobility was central to the aims of the Army, stating that, ‘The Army is a modern, inclusive employer and I want every recruit to be given the opportunity to fulfil their potential. Second Lieutenant Cousland is a tremendous example of how schemes like this can give those who don’t have the best possible start in life a leg up, while helping us maximise the talent of everyone in the Army.’

The Ministry of Defence and Fallon then listed ‘a host of other successful education initiatives aimed at being a vehicle for social mobility’.

This briefing explores if these claims about social mobility stand up to scrutiny or whether enlisting in the armed forces can have a negative impact upon social mobility, particularly for very young recruits.

It concludes that:

Those who are truly concerned with social mobility must challenge the promotion of the military within education in particular and call for a rise in the minimum recruitment age to 18. Young people from all backgrounds much be given a greater range of opportunities and the myth that the armed forces will guarantee a rewarding and long-term career must not be allowed to prevail.

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updated 2017

"The army careers advisers who operate in schools are skilled salesmen." Head of Army recruitment strategy, quoted in New Statesman, 2007

The armed forces have a growing involvement in secondary schools, colleges and even primary schools. While the Army, Navy and RAF have long run activities in schools as part of the Ministry of Defence's Youth Engagement programme, the Department for Education promotes 'military ethos' within education, and parts of the armed forces, along with the arms industry, are developing their involvement with curriculum provision and sponsorship of education institutions.

This A4 leaflet (updated 2017) outlines the issue and what the concerns are.

With the presence of the military in public spaces increasing and a high level of popularity for the armed forces, it is not always easy to respond to challenging questions that people pose in when faced with concerns expressed about militarism. Here we explore some responses to questions about how much the armed forces should be involved in our everyday lives, how they relate to young people, and the effectiveness and consequences of military action.

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January 2017

Science4Society Week is a collection of science education activities, co-ordinated by Scientists for Global Responsibility, and designed to inspire young people. It takes place in March each year.

The activities focus on the contribution that science, design and technology can make to peace, social justice and environmental sustainability. The project was set up to provide an alternative to activities funded by the arms and fossil fuel industries.

The resources include debates and discussions, problem solving and practical activities.

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January 2017

Army adverts don't tell you what being a soldier is really like.

At 17, Wayne Sharrocks joined the infantry. His training made him obey the army completely, until it had control of how he thought and what he did. He says that by the end of his training he could have killed another person right in front of him 'at the flick of a switch' with ‘an insane amount of aggression’. He now thinks army training is 'massively damaging' to the mind of a young person.

After he turned 18 Wayne was sent to Afghanistan. There he saw a friend’s legs ripped off and another friend killed. He was injured in the face. Nothing in his training could protect him or his friends.

He couldn't just ‘switch off’ his army training after he left, he says, which caused him all sorts of problems.

Now Wayne thinks that the army shouldn’t be recruiting 16 and 17 year-olds. While it still does, he believes it's better to wait until you’re 18 before deciding whether to join up.

Find out about Wayne's time in the army in these 3-minute videos:

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December 2016

This article, written by Child Soldiers International and published in the Royal United Service Institute Journal, argues that raising the UK enlistment age from 16 to 18 would bring benefits to young people and the British armed forces. The article explains that the UK’s low enlistment age is counterproductive internationally, as it implies to other countries that it is acceptable to use children under the age of 18 to staff national armed forces.