Recruitment of bodies and minds

In the past few years, there have been reports of a ‘recruitment crisis’ facing the British military, particularly the army. Following cuts made to the regular army, the government put forward the ‘Future Reserve 2020’ plan, to double the size of reservists by 2018 in order to fill the gaps left by cuts.

Yet numbers are still dwindling among both regular and reserve elements of the armed forces despite extensive and expensive marketing campaigns. Military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq has been largely unpopular, with growing public cynicism about its objectives and success. This has had a negative effect on armed forces recruitment.

To ensure the recruitment of personnel and the public’s support for the forces and their operations, militarisation is on the rise in public spaces and education. Meanwhile, costly and sophisticated recruitment initiatives are romanticising life in the military, while drawing attention away from the causes and consequences of violent conflict and our need to rethink our security approach.

These recruitment initiatives target working class children and young people in particular. The UK recruits children from age 16, and is the only country in Europe to do so.

Children playing on military equipment at Liverpool Armed Forces Day, 2017. Photo: John Usher
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