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 361.

    cannon fodder is what they want for WMD, people are less stupid, people know killing another working class man does nothing but leaves tears

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    The fewer troops we have the less likelihood there is that we'll engage in illegal wars overseas, which sounds like good news to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    1930s, as a consequence of depression our military was massively reduced, liberals called for more money on public expenditure, this while Hitler was growing his military.

    Eventually, we reversed & started rebuilding, too little too late, so far behind Nazi manpower & equipment & strategy - resulted in Expeditionary army having to retreat to Dunkirk, massive loss of life.


  • rate this

    Comment number 358.

    Why fight illegal wars abroad? We need to take action against our government at home. They are the real enemy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    The greatest threat today is from the growth of radical Islamism & Saudi Arabia is funding it. The Foreign Office is in disarray because they don't really know if Saudi Arabia is an ally or or an enemy.

    Not a good time to be a soldier when your bosses don't know what they are doing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 356.

    Do you think theyve all done a runner I wondered ? Well you cant help but think like this No Patrols a situation which i know in other countries woud have definitley brought about martial law Nope Not one There no personall carrying machine guns, arms , rifles or side arms None !! They dont think this wont happen again I asked myself , Serioulsy mistaken if they dont think so

  • rate this

    Comment number 355.

    How many current MP's have teenage children currently serving in the armed forces.

    How many current MP's have teenage children studying at college/university.

    Kids from grotty council estates join the army to fight wars that politicians create... as cheaply as possible...

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.

    Serving your country is a great motivation but;
    Since its the politicians who get to decide how & where the army is deployed, we either believe politicians serve the interests of our country (not their own!) or the army too ends up serving the interests of politicians.

    I think people are wising up to the way army is being used. Risking your life for little reward & a forlorn life post-service.

  • rate this

    Comment number 353.

    I welcome this transformation of our defence forces into a more reserve orientated army. The Swiss's model of self-defence, non-interventionism based around its reservists is a great proven model. Unfortunately there's is manned by compulsory service, but it doesn't have to be, and hopefully if we keep moving in this direction, we can show them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 352.

    Having just been made redundant, then asked if I want to rejoin or go to the reserves, I just felt "What was the point in being made redundant?" I have met many good TA/Reservists, but on the whole, they are not prepared to do a full time stint.

  • rate this

    Comment number 351.

    It's like everything now - education, health, Police etc etc and now Army. Not the real thing, not properly trained, badly treated and CHEAP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 350.

    I can't see why we need an army - the invason has already happened. The country has long since been given away

  • rate this

    Comment number 349.

    Next we'll have SERCO or G4S running our forces

  • rate this

    Comment number 348.

    would you put your life on the line getting shot at and blown up just so the likes of david Cameron can look big and important the big I am. but when you do get blown up and shot to bits your thrown on the scrapheap and labelled a scrounger. has an ex serviceman I would not advise any one to join the services.

  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    The US Navy has $20,000 body armour for some of their dogs.

    The British army won't spend anywhere near that on protecting soldiers.

    When a senior military figure complained our prime minister made the public statement: I wish they'd just do the fighting and leave the talking to me.

    Why would anyone volunteer to be treated worse than an American dog? No recruits? Blame Cameron 4 Co.

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.

    Your country needs you doesn't work anymore does it. G to the most run down areas and there are recruitment centres signing up vulnerable young people for "adventures" and all the ads are about avoiding a boring job to have fun.

    Seems like even the desperate are getting educated enough not to join now which is good. No army = no retaliative attacks on us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    We drove round Woolwich barracks the other day I know we have cameras and so forth but NOT ONE SINGLE Military personal patrolling the garrison Not One !! I thought," what the hell have they done here?" In view of the recent attack on Lee Rigby just outside the barracks you would have thought you would have seen a very strong presence of military all over Woolwich wouldn’t you ? NOT ONE

  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    you have got to be a real dip ship to join the forces, under pay, you risk your life all for what so they can live off your back and have a lifestyle we all dream of....raise your hopes think of beaches cocktails and beautiful women and a odd funny cigarette...

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    Several posters have raised the valid issue of what we are actually fighting for. During the last decade or so the answer is quite clearly "US interests"
    Given that we can't afford to repair our roads, cut hedges back, switch street lights on etc how in hell's name can we afford to go fighting wars for another country's economic interests, as evidenced by Hague's recent attempt to jump into Syria?

  • rate this

    Comment number 342.

    So, I sign up, get my legs blown off or am blinded, everyone feels sorry for me, the army mutters pointless sentences, politicians tell me I am a hero but hang on, I still don't have any legs and and I can't see my children. Sounds like a good deal to me (not). The politicians want a fight, let them be the fighters. I'm with you, Friendly Gent.


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