Colonel and General at war over new direction of Armed Forces recruitment.

Two army veterans are publicly disagreeing about the new direction army recruitment has taken with the British Army’s latest advert. Public opinion has weighed in with accusations of political correctness and focus is now on the future of the Armed Forces.

Multimedia adverts promoting new programmes to provide emotional and physical support for troops aired today, following low numbers of new recruits. Retired Colonel Richard Kemp has said it will not solve the army’s “recruitment crisis.”

The advert featured voices of men concerned about the emotional pressure to be “superheroes”, the acceptance of diverse sexuality, and in one scene a young Muslim man explaining how the army allows him to practice his faith. Compared to other adverts that predominantly feature combat scenes and emphasise masculine imagery, attention here is focused on taking care of the individual’s needs.

General Sir Nick Carter told BBC Radio 4s programme that “Our society is changing, and I think it is entirely appropriate for us to therefore try and reach out to a much broader base to get the talent we need in order to sustain combat effectiveness.”

While General Carter believes that by representing all areas of society the army can maximise the skills on offer. Colonel Richard Kemp voiced worries that it not only attracts the wrong kind of recruits but also sends the message of weakness.

Photo property of Army/PA Wire

Veteran Pete Dawson, commented that army advertisements have always been far from the reality of training and war. In an interview he drew concern that at 59 he could still complete the basic army fitness test, making him believe they have dropped their standards.

“It’s about fighting and winning wars, and if you think you can’t do that without bringing in a kit bag full of emotional baggage or concerns about who you are as a person, the Army isn’t the job for you.”

These comments reflect the strong identity that attracts young men to join in the first place, and this is where the accusations of political correctness trickle in. Sexual orientation and faith are not deemed important to a soldier’s success.  Melissa Jacobs contributed to online discussions to point out:

“Our soldiers are also soldiers, they aren’t there to represent their communities, they are there to serve the nation.”

Retired major general Tim Cross spoke out, calling to attention that the message is everyone is free and welcome to join the army but: “we are not going to be soft and we are not going to be nice to people.”

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