2008
01.08

“To say that the Army is glamorising war is absolute rubbish”

SAS hero Andy McNab yesterday blasted a report which accused the Army of glamorising war to boost recruitment.

The Sun’s security advisor hit out at claims by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust that TV ads “portrayed war as game-like and enjoyable”.

He said: “To say that the Army is glamorising war is absolute rubbish. The adverts attempt to show us that there is a lot more going on than just combat.

It is still a place where people can get educated and trained for the rest of their lives.”

Former deputy chief of the defence staff General Sir Antony Walker joined Bravo Two Zero legend Andy in slamming the report. He fumed: “No-one knows the horror of war better than the professional soldier.” 

To read the article go here

Now you all stop reading just there, because I’m gonna continue with a leftish civilian streak. So off you go….

About the quote “No-one knows the horror of war better than the professional soldier.”

Probably very true. Except maybe the (other) victims of wars?

But that aside, the report by David Gee in PDF is 160 pages long and I doubt all of the media now copying each other have read all those 160 pages. (Likely depending on which paper you read.) The critics pick out a few (negative) phrases and what happens next is the MoD denying. Duh! So have I read the report? No, not all 160 pages. But I did get into it to see what it’s about instead of just copying blindly, and I would like to pick some (other) phrases from the conclusion in the report.

Ok, there’s still time to quit reading, so grab yourselfs a brew and watch some nice vids or send virtual cocktails to your Facebook friends.;-)

“The evidence collected in this report points to a number of ethical shortcomings in armed forces recruitment practice in the UK. These include: failing to inform potential recruits sufficiently about the risks associated with a forces career; failing to inform potential recruits about vital rights and privileges; severely curtailing recruits’ right to withdraw consent from their employment; depending upon those who are socially and economically vulnerable to enlist for negative reasons; and recruiting minors without adequate safeguards.”

Ok, so – in very short – what do they suggest?

“It could be possible to move towards an ethical recruitment policy without detriment to staffing levels by making a number of progressive changes to recruitment and retention policy and practice.”

“Whilst literature for potential recruits cannot fully describe forces life, it should include unambiguous information about: legal obligations; discharge options for minors; the need to consider ethical issues such as killing before enlistment; some of the principal risks of a forces career; the welfare and psychiatric support available; a description of the military covenant; the right, and its limits, of conscientious objection to military service; and the policy of exclusion of minors from hostilities. Literature for parents/guardians should also include advice about how to support their child by asking questions of recruiters and seeking independent advice. Literature should be more accessible to potential recruits with a low reading age.

Minors are especially vulnerable to joining the armed forces without due consideration of the risks. Existing safeguards to ensure that minors and their parents make informed choices about enlistment are deficient.

Sheesh………. from this report it seems they suggest the recruits to be fully (or at least sufficiently) informed, to learn about and consider what awaits them on possible army fields, to be aware of their legal rights and possibilities when joining the army. And all that preferably before enlisting.

I do wonder if MoD’s objections aren’t more a result of the media ‘uproar’ than of the report itself? After all.. they have everything to gain by informing their recruits so they are motivated when they join and remain motivated.

And I wonder if the (right) media aren’t objecting since the report is financed by the JRCT who “makes grants to individuals and to projects seeking the creation of a peaceful world, political equality and social justice.” A bunch of treehuggers…so assuming that report can’t be anything but ‘left’ rubbish?

And then there’s this remark:

The armed forces have a poor retention record. For every two 16-22 year-olds joining the army, one is leaving.
A portion of the £2 billion now used to attract, enlist and train new recruits might be better used to improve conditions for existing personnel. Valuable improvements could be made to: pay, accommodation, equipment, leave
entitlement, workload, and welfare including psychiatric support.

All these measures would also benefit recruitment.

Now in my opinion there’s not so much wrong with the report, but the Army calls it  ‘out dated and ill-informed’. Their YouTube recruitment videos however resemble scenes from blockbuster war movies. They’re not looking for actors though I believe? I’ve learned the phrase ‘from the Armies’ point of view’ and I think I do understand where their criticism is coming from. That doesn’t make it right, nor is the current approach productive per se.

Now if you made it this far, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Of course… it’s easy for me to be critical, but if anything in the report can be helpful to improve the situation for recruits and soldiers, why not take a closer look?

Right, got that of my chest. And here you go…. once upon a time recruiting wasn’t so complicated