Army recruitment is 'top priority' - Hammond

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Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has signalled optimism on the impact of a new Army recruitment drive.

The Ministry of Defence launched a multimedia advertising campaign in January, which the secretary of state highlighted as evidence that attracting people to a military career is a "top priority within the MoD".

He acknowledged there had been "a series of issues affecting the management of the recruitment process, including IT problems", but, he added: "Action is in hand to address this."

"There is evidence that the principal objective of the national media campaign, to raise awareness of armed forces recruiting, is being achieved," he told MPs on 3 February 2014, citing figures that showed visits to the recruitment website are up 50% on last year.

Lindsay Roy, a Labour MP, asked how potential reservists would be notified their applications had been lost in what he called "an IT fiasco".

Mr Hammond assured him: "Every effort has been made by the application of additional manpower to the system, going back and manually checking records, to make contact with anyone who may have been lost in the system."

Another Labour backbencher, Karl Turner, spoke of a "failure to recruit reservists to plug the gap from redundancies" which he said amounted to "gambling with the nation's safety".

But the defence secretary advised him: "The project to increase the size of the reserves is not to backfill for the regulars... it's part of a broader restructuring of our forces making different use of regulars and reserves."

Mr Hammond recently announced 1,500 redundancies as part of the Ministry of Defence's long-standing plan to cut the regular Army and expand the Army Reserve to 30,000 troops.

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