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 561.

    Why bother with an army at all. This new model army is a delusion intended to fool the nation into believing they are being protected. Smoke, mirrors and lies yet again from this most disreputable of all governments ever. Election please, those Rotten Mps have trashed this nation form the working classes down to legal aid. What a disgrace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 560.

    Politicians have finally got the message that foreign wars are not as popular as they one were
    You'd think wouldn't you - after the travesty of Iraq .
    Yet just a few months ago, based on "evidence" that Kerry has still not produced, Cameron Hague Fox and Michael" You're a disgrace" Gove were calling for UK intervention in the hornets nest that is Syria.

    Utter Clown Party stupidity

  • Comment number 559.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 558.

    The advert should be changed to read "serve your country for 15 years and serve a life sentence' for killing a terrorist"

  • rate this

    Comment number 557.

    Why would any working class man or woman want to fight and die to protect the corrupt and criminal sham of democracy that exists in the UK?

    Britain is not governed by any political party. The real string pullers are a half dozen staggeringly rich families who will sacrifice any soldiers life to perpetuate the status quo.

  • Comment number 556.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 555.

    When I joined in 1984 it was for three things (in no particular order

    1. Falklands was still high in peoples minds
    2. Need to get away from the village and a life in a dead end job
    3. Chance to see the wold

    Unfortunately only 2 is valid/posable today

  • rate this

    Comment number 554.

    For WHAT? Years spent killing in Iraq and now look at the place! Years spent killing in Afghanistan and it's much the same as it has been for years! I never joined any service and would never just as long as the so called heads of the UK stays at home all snug and warm. When they LEAD..... then and ONLY then will I follow!

  • rate this

    Comment number 553.

    22 Years in HM Royal Marines, 26 Years in HM Customs.

    Would I recommend a career in the British Military today, regular or reserve ... NO I WOULD NOT.

    Shafted by your Generals, your Politicians, and the Legal System for doing the job they sent you there to do, The Rules of War and the Military Covenant are a jokes, not fit for purpose, do not put yourself at risk to be a part of this farce.

  • rate this

    Comment number 552.

    UK military is now relatively fielding a 5 aside team, up against 11 aside teams.

    Numbers are now so small even before present cuts finalised, that we stretch to do anything without help from USA or France

    We are an island nation, historically regularly saved/protected by our navy & merchant navy as well as army/airforce.

    Being the "best" propaganda is no protection of low numbers reality

  • rate this

    Comment number 551.

    Utter disgrace after spending a fortune making soldiers redundant. We end up paying twice because of incompetent strategic thinking. I know we need new soldiers all the time to ensure we have new people to send into illegal wars to be blown to bits in the name of peace. I wonder if David Cameron would encourage his children to join up and risk being blown to smithereens?

  • rate this

    Comment number 550.

    @545. Banger64

    I am 16 years in and on AFP 75 but now I must go on to AFP 14 with no choice which means I will not receive a full pension until 65.
    There are jobs in the army which you can stay until your 55 birthday

  • Comment number 549.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    But what are the 82000 left going to do? We no longer have an empire to defend.
    Politicians have finally got the message that foreign wars are not as popular as they one were because we don't like our kids being killed and maimed in a foreign land for no good reason.
    We're gong to have an army sitting around in camps around the UK with no where to go and that will soon demoralize them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    542. Truth logic sustainability the final frontiers
    525.P J Hughes

    Again, you are completely missing my point. Some people in the Reserves have civilian job outside their role in the Reserves. So, what point are you trying to tell me. For example, I was in the TA. I also had (have) a civilian job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.

    This is how our politicians view the armed forces: cannon fodder.
    The recruitment drive: replace experienced cannon fodder with cheaper, younger, pliant cannon fodder while their friends make a profit from it.

    The last time politicians listend those serving in the armed forces was the late '40s. They had to then as they knew the lies of the present lot would have seen them up against a wall.

  • rate this

    Comment number 545.

    @536. Martin P

    Don't know if things have changed since I left but if not you are wrong. I left after a max service carrier of 22 years at 42 years old and am in receipt of an immediate pension

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    What exactly are the forces fighting for ?

    And given the traditional MOD callousness to the widows, plus the need to swear loyalty to royalty why would anyone ?

    Recession maybe ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 543.

    Army recruitment didn't use to be a big challenge. Young men like myself joined because we wanted the life. Much like the police, fire service etc. No need to sell the idea. Dont get the strap line ' more than meets the eye' either. A bit misleading.

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    525.P J Hughes

    The admin, that you think can be replaced with civilians, is part of the fighting numbers, included in total military numbers, many go where the military go,their job is to push pens in war zones not just UK & without need of diverting soldiers for protection

    Yes I know, replaced with contractors, useless to frontline, hence the reliance on reservists


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