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 141.

    How about starting with all politicians (and ex politicians) children of serving age to be first in. Perhaps then they might think twice before using the forces as their own private army and they should finally understand the worry put on parents of our serving soldiers

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    The british army is the best and finest force in the world but if they want to remain that force they have to fight for it on the street, next to Downing Street and within the public. The british army has his enemy within "the political correctness", within the EU-Human-Rights-Act ... Woolwich Soldiers should have come out and should have shot death those terrorists but they are in comfy prisons x

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Strongly believe you should judge someone on their intention, which is why those serving currently are indeed examples of immense bravery and self-sacrifice. Unfortunately, these wars are for nothing other than globalizing big business, take by force & talk "terrorism" if suspicion arises. And yes Gov have cut army jobs but these new recruits are for the COLLECTIVE EU Army remember.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    "3. Erm, so the governments plans to cut 18,000 army jobs and at the same time launches a "recruitment drive".

    Am I missing something here ?"

    Yep. The army needs young soldiers. If they stopped recruiting you'd end up with Dad's Army of 40 year olds. Simples.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    It shouldn't be too difficult to recruit meets.

    The TA's on the other hand. I left the TA's because I was being badgered by my Captain to 'Volunteer' go to Iraq and Afghanistan without any prospect of job protection.

    Completely up for serving Queen and country when required to, but I need to ensure I can feed my family first! Give TA soldiers job protection.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    With so many potential & active flashpoints, it looks far too risky to scale back regulars before most new reservists are trained & proven. Also, as per comment #38 on troops having to pay for training kit, if true it's disgusting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    Cutting the numbers is good news and so is failing to recruit new part-timers, but lets not stop there. How about stopping the Trident upgrade and also stop meddling in other peoples wars as that will save £billions too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Instead of joining the Army did you know that 'Help for Heroes ' which is a public funded charity, are always looking for volunteers to help us to look after our maimed soldiers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    Don't worry Cameron, you've always got the boy scouts. guides, etc to fall back on. They will possibly believe your lies. Maybe!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    So Hammond is doing what the private sector has done over the last 5-10 years. Dumped the more expensive but experienced people to allow the cheaper do as your told and don't argue about half arsing it new recruits.
    Can we do the same with our MP's please?
    Get rid of the expenses fiddling corporate lackey’s in favour of people who will represent the electorate rather than the 1%?

    Thought not!

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Why join the Army to be sent to get killed or wounded in wars based on lies only to return and be kicked out so they can recruit cheaper canon fodder for their next war.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    At sometime when more cuts are needed the Army and the reserve will probably be outsourced to G4S etc. That'll save loads in pensions and get rid of wounded soldiers. What happens when the Olympics manpower shortfall happens again is they can go to the scouts or brownies. Al Q will shiver in their boots!

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    Join the armed forces to risk your life in a pointless war only for 5 years later to be thrown out on the streets.. hmm its a tempting career move!

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Who in their right mind would join our army now?
    Anyone thinking of joining should watch the "Starship Trooper" movies and see how you will be treated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    "Big Challenge"
    Iraq, Afghanistan;
    wars based on lies,
    deceit and obscurantism.
    Yeah! Big Challenge!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    Be it the Army or the Police loyalty to the crown a sense of service with honour used to be great features . So easily destroyed by non servicemen and women accountants and Politicians with no sense of loyalty to the men and women who serve. And have no concept of the word Honour !
    Restore pay/pensions levels value your military and Police or lose the basic building blocks of democracy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    I notice the article doesn't mention the use of a private company to check the medical records of potential recruits which Mr Hammond cited as a possible cause on BBC TV this morning for the delay in recruitment. Another case of the Tories cutting something, discovering they need what they have cut and giving an opportunity for private enterprise to profit from it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Never mind the Services, lets cut 200 MP's from the H of C and 500 from the H of L for a start. That would save enormous amounts of £ & there would be no loss of anything except hot air.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    Army recruitment a 'big challenge'

    And that's a surprise!, the armed forces are treated like dirt by politicians, mass redundancies, a deliberate policy of terminating contracts just days before entitlement to bigger pensions etc, extended tours of duty, ie 12 months at a go (they have families) there is also the sub standard accommodation offered, the list is endless.. Disgusting

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    People should be given the right to train to the level of an army solider but never have to fight the war, we'd be the most dangerous protected society on the planet. no fear of anything.


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