Army adverts slammed for being ‘too soft’

Then and now: Lord Kitchener’s iconic WWI poster (left) and today’s crying solder (right).

What sort of armies do we want? The British military is under fire for saying: “It’s okay to cry." Do modern liberal societies want tough fighting machines or “social workers armed with guns”?

Picture typical armed forces advertisements. They preach excitement and the chance for ordinary people to better themselves. There will be lots of shots of military hardware.

The British army’s latest recruiting adverts are rather different. They ask: "What if I get emotional?", "Can I be gay in the army?" and "Do I have to be a superhero?"

The latest series of adverts come in response to a recruitment crisis in the army. General Sir Nick Carter, head of the army, said the traditional soldier was a young, white man, aged 16-25, but Britain’s demographic changes mean there were now "not as many of those around as there once were".

But the army has been slammed for pandering to political correctness. Last month the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, blocked plans to scrap the “Be the best” slogan, as it was considered too "elitist and non-inclusive".

Writing in The Telegraph, Colonel Tim Collins says that “Daydreaming of a better world is a very dangerous occupation,” contrasting this with the brutal realities of a soldier’s life.

But is this really what the armed forces should be in 2018? As the world becomes more comfortable and more peaceful, is it time to rethink the army’s role?

Progressive force

Some argue that in an age when the world is more peaceful than at most times in history, and when drones are slowly replacing armed soldiers, the army must adapt. It should be seen as ambassadors of Western liberal values, and that means presenting a very different face.

Nonsense, reply others. The world is still dangerous, and an army’s main — possibly only — task must be to defend the nation at all costs. The army should be elitist and exclusive, and there is a consensus among those who have served in the military that an army cannot both reflect society and do its job.

You Decide

  1. Do armies belong in 2018?


  1. Come up with the profile of a person who you think would be the ideal soldier. Include both mental and physical traits.

Some People Say...

“Any organisation not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.”

Robert Conquest

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The army is suffering a recruitment crisis. Between April 2016 and March 2017, 8,194 soldiers joined. However, 9,775 left during the same period.
What do we not know?
Whether the new approach will work. According to Sir Nick Carter, applications to the army had gone up by 30-35% in the past nine months, but it is unclear whether this is due to the campaign.

Word Watch

Gay in the army
The UK Ministry of Defence first allowed openly homosexual soldiers in 2000, while the USA famously used to operate a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, ie, a soldier could be gay if he kept it quiet.
General Sir Nick Carter
Carter, 58, served in Bosnia and Kosovo before commanding British forces in Basra during the Iraq War. He was then deployed to Afghanistan.
Demographic changes
As of the 2011 census, 81.9% of the British population were white British. In 1991, this figure stood at 94.1%. It is expected to continue to decrease.

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