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 121.

    If politicians are so keen to recruit for the military then volunteer their own children first then ask others to join. When the rich wage war it`s the poor who die.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    106 Yoda
    Not one black soldier in the picture and not one female

    You need your eyes testing, mate. 2nd from right is definitely a female!

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    Army recruitment is both obvious & very clear.
    1.Recruit much cheaper and younger soldiers and officers,to hell with experience we can tick a box on the actual size of our forces
    2.Increase the size of part-time soldiers and officers as that's cheaper still but also tick's box's on current size
    The word "services"throughout society covers-up a multitude of cuts,limits,restrictions,& quality issues

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    I've been in the TA for 25 years and quite frankly I am embarrassed by the whole situation. However the flawed plan of letting go the regulars before having recruited reserves, is not the fault of the Army (who are first rate planners), but that of the civil servants, who's job is to save money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Anyone who joins any of the armed forces need their head examined. They have never ever been looked after, consistently lied to and abused.
    Eg the defence secretary on deploying troops to Helmand. "Just their presence will be enough to deter the Insurgents ,and they will return without a shot being fired".
    What happend next. around 450 killed , hundreds maimed and dependant on on Help For Heroes

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    This comes as no surprise, the recruitment is all carried out by a private company that is woeful at best. My son was accepted last July and still waits for a start date to be confirmed for his training. He calls and gets nowhere. So the continued arrogance of this Government and the fact that they do not know what is going on at grass routes is astonishing. Bring on the elections.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    I have been working for the Army for the past four years, All this government is doing is to Avoid Pensions, Get rid of Regulars what are far better trained and effective,

    Save the money for the big companies like Google and Starbucks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.


    Well, why would anyone wish to go & fight under an MOD/ MOW that has proved to be dishonourable in the extreme backed by governments that, on one hand say "we" are fighting Al-Qaeda but on another funds it in the form of "rebels" in Syria.

    Bottom line is if your in the military you're not fighting for queen & country you are fighting for THE INDUSTRIAL MILITARY COMPLEX run by BANKSTERS !

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Of course its difficult to recruit young people.
    A trained soldier gets just £17700 a nanny in London can expect £28000.
    A paltry extra £29 a day when on operations.
    Substandard equipment and kit.
    Modern Defense cannot be done on the cheap our finest serving young men and women deserve better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.


    . . . it was a courtesy call to the future prime minister of an independent scotland . . . negotiating for some ice free harbour for their ships!

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Did 3 years in the TA in the early 2000s. I know quite a few folks who volunteered/were called up to serve during the Iraq war in 2003.
    Quite a few left the TA after doing the 6 month tour. This wasn't because they were lazy or incapable, it was because they were treated very badly by their regular counterparts.
    For this to work, the culture in the army has to change regarding reservists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    The current govt sees its job very clearly as lining the pockets of BAA & EADS. Troops are there merely as product demonstrators - dispensable and disposable.

    Eventually the MoD will have 900 senior officers, 25000 commercial lawyers continually & ruinously suing each other & the govt and two soldiers outside in bearskins.

    EVERYONE will get a knighthood except the soldiers. Who will be sacked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    Henry Kissinger said: Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    How can they possibly have the gall to publicise this after making 1000s of experienced troops redundant?

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    the recruiters are army and know nothing about the army reserves and have not been told what they do or what they can expect. Also the army reserves are under trained when their staff sergeants don't even know how to clean a rifle after a year in the army reserve.
    I would prefer a real soldier than a part time one so keep men who are trained and committed to the job

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    Not one black soldier in the picture and not one female. When UKIP advertised themselves like this ( with an actual photograph taken at their conference, not a staged advertising campaign complete with high fives such as this ) They were crucified by the middle class London liberal BBC for being racist. No comment on this picture the BBC or does it not suit your biased political needs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    15. JohnS
    I think you'll find the whole culture of "Honour" was a convenience all people in positions of power have used to make other people fight their wars for them. Take a look at what World war 1 and 2 propaganda did to demonise the Germans, when all we were really fighting and killing were other humans served a different propaganda.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Why join the Army, you get medals for risking your life but if you are the PM's barber you get a MBE !

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    This is wrong

    If we implement a system where we increase immigration but a member of each family allowed in has to do 5 years in the services. That way all immigration adds value as well as given us enough replaceable troops

    This needs to happen now

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Why should anyone want to join the regular army, navy or air force in the knowledge that this or a future Government is likely to make you redundant? It may happen in any career, but this is surely one of the more likely candidates for redundancy.


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