Army recruitment a 'big challenge'


The campaign has been titled "More than meets the eye"

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Army recruitment is a "big challenge" the defence secretary has said, as the Army launched a £3m campaign to boost regular and reserve forces.

Philip Hammond said the purpose of the campaign, titled "More than meets the eye", was to "dispel the myth" that the Army is not recruiting.

The new drive comes as the Army is being cut from 100,000 to about 82,000.

But it wants to increase the Army Reserve from 19,000 to 30,000, and has failed to meet its targets so far.

'Challenge and adventure'

Meanwhile, a poll commissioned by the Army to mark the campaign's launch suggested that 23% of people were not satisfied with their current career.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond: "I want to dispel forever the myth that somehow the Army isn't recruiting"

When asked what was missing, 30% said a decent salary; 27% said excellent training and personal development; 25% said a challenging and exciting role; 35% said UK and overseas travel; and 18% said getting paid while getting qualifications.

The research, carried out by OnePoll, surveyed 2,000 people in December 2013.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said this was the Army's third campaign in a year - stressing it had so far failed to meet its targets for recruiting reservists.

As part of the recruitment drive, TV and cinema adverts will show how the Army Reserve - formerly known as the Territorial Army - is integrated with its counterpart.

Mr Hammond told BBC Breakfast there is not a recruitment crisis, but "there's certainly a big challenge in continuing the flow of recruits to the Army and indeed to the other services".


Launching a £3m recruiting campaign in the midst of ongoing defence cuts may seem perverse. Later this month the Army will be announcing the fourth round of its redundancy programme as the overall size of the regular force shrinks by 20,000.

But the Army says it is an organisation that always need a healthy flow of new recruits. That may prove to be an increasingly hard task as the Army moves from operations to contingencies. By the end of this year all British combat troops will have left Afghanistan.

The other challenge will be dramatically increasing the size of the Army Reserve. The new restructured Army will rely more on part time soldiers. But so far the Army has struggled to meet its recruiting targets and this will be the third high profile recruiting campaign it has launched within the past year.

"The end of the campaign in Afghanistan is going to change the proposition and we need to get across to people what the Army is about, what the Army will be doing post the Afghanistan campaign," he said.

"The purpose of the campaign that we're launching today is to dispel forever the myth that somehow the Army isn't recruiting.

"Yes, the regular Army will be smaller in the future than it has been in the past and, yes, there will be one further round of redundancies unfortunately, but that does not mean that the army is not recruiting."

'Defence on cheap'

The Conservative MP and former soldier John Baron criticised the government's plans.

"The plans to replace 20,000 regulars with 30,000 reservists is fundamentally flawed, both because I think it's going to cost a lot more than government envisages to actually execute... but also there's a capability gap.

"The original plan was to hold the 20,000 regulars in place until we knew that the reservist plan was going to work.

"That plan was changed to save money; we're trying to get defence on the cheap and now we're seeing the result of that because we know that there are real problems with trying to recruit."

Shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker said the campaign was a welcome step towards acknowledging Labour's concerns that there would be a significant capability gap in the Army.

Graphic showing the restructure of the Army under Army 2020

He said: "Labour previously called for the government to pause its reductions to numbers in the regular Army until it was clear there could be adequate uplift in the numbers of reserves. We hope the recruitment campaign is a success. This really is the last chance for the government to get its Army reform plans back on track."

Shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker said the policy is under pressure

Chief of the General Staff, Gen Sir Peter Wall, said: "The Army offers people unique opportunities for challenge and adventure, both at home and overseas, during peacetime and on operations.

"It develops personal qualities that are key to success in any walk of life: leadership, judgement, determination, and physical stamina."

Later in January, the Army will announce the fourth round of its redundancy programme as the overall size of the regular force continues to be reduced.

January will also see the MoD launching a simplified online application form, a more streamlined medical clearance process and an army fitness app to make it easier for potential recruits to join.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    The Business of Death is an evil industry, profiting the Ruling Elite and the arms industry at the cost of the lives and mental health of the sons of ordinary people.

    Follow the money and see who gains and profits from the evils of war.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Volunteers - the universal X factor for politicians and planners when the numbers don't add up. I was commissioned in the TA for many years and, counting effective boots on the ground and not dead wood, we were never even close to full strength. How the Government seriously thought they would fill that gap and recruit tens of thousands more defies rational explanation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Its just another aspect of this cheap and nasty government. Get rid of the experienced people who are already trained at considerable cost and replace with cheaper people or part-timers and then train them on the cheap if they are lucky. This government should be done for treason.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Talking of defence. No mention on the bbc about the russion warship carrying missiles that challenged scotish waters late in december. The navy had to scramble from portsmouth and it took 12 hours!!!!!

    Makes you feel all safe and cosy, eh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Let's have a recruit campaign based on the realities of war, please show the adverts with innocent children, men and women being decimated like lamb to the slaughter while the Elite sit back and smile and cackle.

    War is created by the Elite, then a solution proposed by the Elite, in which the NON-ELITE's children must die, not their children, nor them.
    Anything else is smoke and mirrors.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    @6. Zangief > the skills gained in the military are not useful outside? Really? So I assume all the ex-soldiers around the world are all unemployed are they? How about skills such as teamwork (working and managing teams), ability to get along with people from all walks of life, work under pressure and meet deadlines, planning and organisation, drug free, security cleared .... And you do what??

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    "The Army offers people unique opportunities for challenge and adventure, both at home and overseas, during peacetime and on operations”........ They also offer people the opportunity to to be shot and killed and to be prosecuted for firing back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Another crisis caused by idiot politicians meddling in matters about which they know absolutely nothing....

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    . . . recruits both regular and reservist should be given incentives like tax breaks. . . we should maintain a rapid response division and a full time training cadre . . . the bulk should then be made up of enhanced reservists . . . senior officers over the rank of brigadier should be reservists, similar to the Swedish model . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Having seen the advertisment do they really expect professional plumbers, electricians, chefs and IT workers to join in this updated T.A.?

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    I think the young unemployed should be subject to conscription into the Army if they can't find a job within 6 months of leaving school.

    However, a law that enables youth conscription should also include a law that bars conscripts from serving outside of British territory, so they can't be sent to war (unless they decide to sign up as regulars.)

    P.S. 'British territory' includes the Falklands.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    When soldiers have to work on leave to but their own body armour (yes, it has happened, this was the trigger for the MP's expenses leak) and the old Browning pistols the regulars are getting replaced because they are too old to be reliable are passed on to the Territorials what do you expect?

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    The reason the government is recruiting 16-17 year olds while making older people redundant, is younger people are easier to dupe and lie to. Most 16-17 years don't really have a clue about life and look up to these so called officers which reverence when really its all about sending them out to unjust wars and getting them seriously injured or worse. Gov Ministers are not stupid!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Exciting career? Not any more. No funding, means no training exercises (decent ones)
    Excellent salary? Better than what some would achieve but it isn't "excellent" it is average at best given that you get shot at for a living.
    Excellent Benefits? When they want to give them to you.

    Ridiculous policy and no surprise its failing, the military is too archaic to compete with any normal large employer

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Ridiculous. Replace 20,000 experienced soldiers with 30,000 reservists. No offence to reservists but experience counts for a lot and to replace experience for a short term financial gain is a false economy. Should our military be called into action we will struggle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Of course its a challenge, the army has gone from protecting the country to political motives of operation not many believe in. I have friends and relatives both living and dead who where/are in the army who don't know or can't tell me why there in the places they are

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    If Argentina is smart they would invade the Falklands now. Not that we wish that but it would give this stupid govt a bloody nose and the wake up call it deserves not just on this policy but on many many more of its short term, quick fix, quick buck daft policies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Why join the Army ?

    Go of and fight for your country, the come home, get told you are not needed any more and laid off, then you get called a scrounger.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Really Andi2011? whats this then?

    where it says "In March 2012, Capita plc signed a contract to work in a partnering arrangement with the armed forces to deliver recruitment services for the Army...."

    and theres a list of Army jobs including PTIs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    The government has always insisted that redundancy means that the job has ceased and therefore there is no employment.

    To start a recruitment drive in the middle of a redundancy exercise can only mean that the training given to the existing troops is not what the MOD requires going forward and they are unable to be retrained.



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