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Army marketing "misleads recruits"


January 8, 2008


Marketing for the army is subjecting potential new recruits to a misleading picture of life in the military, according to a new report.

Advertisements and recruitment literature glamorise warfare, omit vital information and fail to point out the risks and responsibilities associated with a forces career, says the report. ‘Informed Choice? Armed Forces and Recruitment Practice in the UK’.

Backed by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the report, by peace and security analyst, David Gee, points out that the UK is the only EU state to recruit 16 year olds and claims children as young as seven are targeted by recruiters.

“The primary target group for armed forces marketing are children and adolescents,” reads the report. “This involves schools visits, literature and internet resources, and local cadet forces.

“As the pool of potential recruits shrinks, outreach to children is expanding, including to those as young as seven years old.”

It argues that key messages are tailored to children’s interests and values: military roles are promoted as “glamorous and exciting”, warfare is portrayed as “game-like and enjoyable”.

“Children are introduced to the potential benefits of a forces career but not to its risks, “ it adds.

In order to address these issues the report recommends that outreach to children and young people should be de-linked from recruitment activity and restricted to older children.

“While promotional activity continues in schools, children should have the right: not to attend, to hear from a speaker presenting an alternative view, and to have peace and disarmament education integrated into the curriculum alongside education about the military, “ it adds.

Report author, David Gee, said that the armed forces glamorise the ‘action man and woman aspects of forces life.

“The armed forces have a poor retention record, partly because they promise recruits more than they can deliver, so thousands end up wanting to leave as soon as possible,” he added.

“Not only will a more balanced and honest approach to recruitment ensure that those who join do so for the right reasons, it will also help reduce the huge resources spent on replacing personnel.”

The MoD has denied that their recruitment practices ‘glamorise’ war and that war is depicted as ‘game-like’.

A spokesperson said that all potential recruits were presented with clear information and that all aspects of service life were discussed in detail as part of the recruitment process.


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