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 41.

    With the type of conflict our Forces are now engaging in, suicidal insurgents, warring religious sects and often ungrateful populaces, it's not patriotism that recruits soldiers but desperation at a future of unemployment on civvy street.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    It is a big challenge because anyone with half a functioning braincell will no that the "reserves" do not exist".

    Reserves used to be for emergency, but Brit army reserves are used as commonly & regularly as standing army, just on the cheap.

    We need an army that can function in most situations & in numbers without calling upon reserves, & call upon them ONLY in emergency situations

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Awaiting the story on how bringing in more private contractors will solve this...

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    I'm not surprised...
    A friend's son has just joined up in a 'trade' within the army....

    Guess what... HE HAD TO PAY an approved private company approximately £200 for kit he would use in his training !

    Disgraceful considering MP's expenses for polishing seat leather with their profligate backsides

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    It takes no time at all to dismantle an army, but twenty years to re-assemble it. I know first hand that the new privatised recruiting process is not working and those that now own it are beginning to get the message that army recruiting is not the same as signing someone up for a job in Tescos or similar. The savings (if there are any) are a false economy. It is a crisis, FACT.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Oh yes please can I sign up and die for free! all to form a ring fence around the so called elite. Yeah I imagine it is a big Challenge to recruit

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    It is a big challenge when you consider the majority of recruits are male so effectively that's half the population gone, then apply age limits over 18 under 42 and your down to 10 million. Then add physical requirements, no criminal record and security checks and you haven't even got to do they want to do it and will their employer let them. The potential pool could be a few hundred thousand.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    They can put whatever spin on it they want, but Churchill's words when addressing Parliament in 1923 are as apt as ever: "... if (the Armed Forces) are sufficiently disturbed, they will wither and dwindle and almost die, and when it comes to this last serious condition, it is only revived with lots of time and lots of money.” Handling them as a limited liability company is still kaputt politics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    All the redundancies from the military were made for why? Will the £3M advertising campaign be undertaken by a company owned by friends of the politicians.
    Call me cynical!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    The government is spending millions on redundancy payments for trained soldiers, and spending millions on recruiting people into the army, and then spending millions on training the new recruits. Only a government minister could think that makes sense. Potential employers will also be wary of taking on someone who might be away for months on a T.A. deployment overseas with little notice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Yet more confusing messages from this inept government - am I the only one who is totally flummoxed by what their policy is meant to be?

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Army personnel should be automatically entitled to complete their working lives as Public Servants. On leaving active service they are the obvious choice to become members of the Emergency Services, being already schooled in many of the required disciplines. Local Authorities should automatically engage ex service personnel.
    Recruitment problem removed at a stroke.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    10. Denaris
    Agreed - more technology due to its coolness! (possibly a james bond villain with a cat in the background)

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Come on people - we need soldiers to defend our way of life and ensure that we don't descend into some despot nation.
    We need to protect our freedom to have rights for certain groups, equality all round, free healthcare for all, benefit handouts for the workshy.
    So come on and enlist, although the ranks will probably be filled up by you know who, and not those that whinge on the most

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Who would want to do a job risk your life work your way up then just as you're about to qualify for a decent pension they make you redundant I know two people who this has happened to this year so people aren't stupid mind this sort of thing would never happen to a politician or a royal...

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Having been in 24 years, recruiting after these latest round of cuts will be difficult. especially for the Army Reserve. This bunch of clowns in government, the same as the last lot of idiots, see Defense as an easy way to save money. Defense of ones country should always be paramount and not subject to the Treasury's whims. And zangief, military skills are very useful, very useful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    The government honestly does not know what it's doing, I mean cutting job and recruiting at the same time?? Well it's cheaper sending 17 year old boys to the middle east I suppose............

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Why on earth did they recently make trained army people redundant?
    Oh silly me! Expect its cheaper to recruit young guys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    We should follow the US version of how an army should be equipped and supported, then you wouldn't have a demoralized force, the regulars are always being cut back or disbanded, it happens year on year and must leave a sick feeling in their stomachs.

    Anyhow, the Army should also be a place for young people to get trained up, give them discipline and a feeling of a strong family, why cut back?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    who in their right mind would sign up for a career - or even 10 years, risk life and limb with the prospect of getting caught up in the annual 'cull' of service personnel and made redundant ?


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