This letter from ForcesWatch staff member Douglas Beattie was first published in the Camden New Journal on 23 June 2016 in response to Camden Council's support of Armed Forces Day.
A year ago we wrote how Armed Forces Day symbolises the creep of militarism into our civil institutions. Far from being merely a reflection of public respect, this creep is the result of a concerted effort, which can be tracked through policy initiatives and is fuelled by concern that the military are losing control of the public narrative around defence. We noted how these public displays, which are ostensibly about supporting 'the men and women who make up the Armed Forces', (including Camo Day, Reserves Day and the Poppy Appeal), act to market the military as an institution and to build a positive and uncritical narrative around it and support its recruitment needs. A year, and another Armed Forces Day, later, we look here at how militarism continues to creep into schools and colleges and how recent developments further embed military approaches and interests within the education system.
Letter to The Independent (see all signatories below).
THERE are hook the duck stalls, fairground rides and countless ice-cream vans. But these are not the most popular attractions with the thousands of small children who descended on Stirling yesterday for Armed Forces Day. They seemed to prefer handling the high-velocity sniper rifle, getting to grips with an 81mm mortar or staring down the sights of a Starstreak II missile launcher, with its operator on hand to boast of its "multi-target capability" and 7km range.
Letter to The Times (see all signatories below)
On this day 100 years ago, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo in an action that led to the First World War. Unchecked militarism in Europe was also a major factor.
Today is also Armed Forces Day, one of the clearest indications of the re-militarisation of British society. Established in 2009 to increase public support for the forces, there are over 200 public events, many billed as 'family fun days'. This week also saw Uniform to Work Day promoting the reserve forces and 'Camo Day' in schools.
This article was originally published on openDemocracy Armed Forces Day represents a major shift in military-civil relations over the last 6 or 7 years that has seen the embedding of the military in civilian institutions in a way never seen before. What will be the impact on how we, as a society, view and accept military activities and military approaches? How will the promotion of the military affect young people as the next generation of 'future soldiers'?
“The stirring music, smart uniforms and synchronised marching that characterise Armed Forces Day are a glossy front behind which sits a deliberate strategy to manipulate the public,”
Today is 'Camo Day', established by SSAFA Forces Help to encourage school children across the country to 'dress up like our troops' as a fundraiser. 'Cam your face, wear green or come to school as a soldier, sailor or airman.' Camo Day is a non-uniform day to fit these increasingly militaristic times when supporting the armed forces is a badge of honour for celebrities and military involvement in the education system is commonplace and uncontroversial. Camo Day promotes the value of helping ex-service men and women but also reinforces military activities as fun, normal and desirable. Questions about why so many young men and women are killed or maimed or in need of welfare are unlikely to be explored.