Army recruitment a 'big challenge'


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

Related Stories

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.


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Defence on the cheap, my foot!
    We spend 2.5% of GDP on defence. If we cut to 1.5% (ie 40% off the Defence Bill), we would finally end up spending about what Italy and Germany* spend, and are they militarily safe? YES.
    [* and Netherlands and Belgium and Spain and Portugal and Ireland and Canada and ....]

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Won't get more reservists given the hostility of civilian employers.

    Sharpen the laws there and then you might get more people joining.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    Sorry mrlibraryman, I clicked to +1 your comments and accidentally hit -1. Touch phones for you so your score should be +1

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    Why have a highly trained UK armed services anyway when we could hire one from abroad for a 3rd of the price.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    Why do we need more soldiers? Are we at war? Do we need more soldiers to prevent the terrorist threat? Has anyone seen a reduction in the our governments attitude towards terrorism since our soldiers have been fighting this phoney war? Our soldiers are brave & are put in jeopardy for a pointless cause. Wonderful men let down by government. We need soldiers when we are under attack, not oppression

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    64. More like will you put your life on the line to defend someone elses country and help the international profiteers flourish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    I wouldn`t be suprised if new recruits had zero hour contracts. Anything to save money. In westminster common sense isn`t so common.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    @1 Billy - Alright then, I hope you'll be leaving the country soon enough then. Perhaps "oh so mighty" Germany will be more to your liking? A genuine Utopia no doubt, with absolutely no problems whatsoever.

    Let us know how it is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    I spent 11 years as a volunteer in the Royal Navy. On leaving the service I had no guidance no support basically left to get on with it. The reason any UK government cannot recruit service personnel in today's world is people are aware of being used as a political pawn (militarily) in the first instance and secondly no one wants to know us post military. Basically adopt US model as a minimum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    I spent 5 years in the TA and 25 years in the Regulars. It is an amazing job with great people. I would encourage anyone who wants a challenging job to give it a go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    wouldn't it be helpful to have full publication of the last strategic defence review and a discussion about the purpose of the armed and other emergency forces?

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    The Army recruitment adverts on television have recently been targeting people who work at Supermarket check outs ("beep, beep, beep") - I don't see that as advertising a noble vocation that I aspire for my children, I see it as an attempt to sign up poor people who have few other options when it comes to doing something with their lives. Poor people fighting wars on behalf of vested interests...

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    Last time I read about it there was only one male son of a serving MP in the front line of the Army and no daughters!
    Wonder why,all that travel and those exciting adverts,could it be you might get killed and are also paid to kill when ordered.
    Do our "serving"? MPs think that we to cant see through the gloss and PR as well or it they simply don't care as long as it's not their children?

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    I don't believe I am reading this. This daft government keeps cutting away at our forces with forced redundancies of experienced resources and then finds it is short of bodies and can't recruit enough new resources. There seems to be no coherent strategy here. A friend's son went for interview with the Army 8 months ago and still hasn't heard back from them! It all sounds very incompetent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    I was always under the impression that our armed forces were for the defence of the realm, and the police force was for the upholding of the law. Apparently I'm wrong, because our armed forces are pootling about in foreign lands which have no intention of becoming peaceful towards those forces nor to our realm. Why are we waiting till 2015 to bring our boys back from a wasted trip in the sand?

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    Recruitment? It's only weeks ago that the idiots in government were sending out redundancy notices to troops risking their lives in Afghanistan! We need strong defences yet first they cut them and then they seek new recruits with a huge loss of expertise and moral. Time that the Tories went and time that they gave up their defence cuts and kept the Royal Navy and the Army at realistic numbers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    Wonder why the BBC will not post my comment about Capita.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Considering every year there is a huge argument about cutbacks what else can they expect. Who wants to apply for something knowing that the chances are you'll soon be kicked out with nowhere to go?

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Why in the current financial climate why would you want to join the reserve forces.Were you looking for employment any small company would hesitate to employ you given that there is a higher possibility they would lose your services when the Prime Minister of the moment decided to enter a conflict. Add stress to your family, relationships plus possible death, injury, PTS etc. Forget it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Why would anyone want to sign up as a bullet-stopper for the rich. The army supports the grabbing of land or wealth or arms sales, none of the profits go to the soldier, and has very little to do with britains fact you could argue that britain is a far less safe place due to spurious actions...


Page 21 of 29


More UK stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.