Forces Watch News Update 

3 October 2013

*YouGov poll finds that Britons tend to think less of the Army's importance the younger they are: 'While 90% of 40-59 year olds and 93% of those over 60 see the army as important to Britain’s national interests, 82% of 25-39 year olds and 54% of 18-24 year olds feels the same. And while the majority of those over 60 (71%) and 40-59 year olds (61%) say the army is ‘very’ important, only half (50%) of 25-39 year-olds and 27% of the lowest age-group have the same strong feeling. 87% of those over 60 and 85% of 40-59 year olds say the Reserves are important to Britain’s national interests, compared to 72% of 25-39 year olds and 43% of those aged 18-24.'

*Poll of readers of The Voice ('Britain's favourite black newspaper'): only 15% 'would die for their country'; 28% would rather be sent to prison. On 1 October 2012, 7.1 per cent of the regular Armed Forces described themselves as from a black or minority ethnic background - a record high. This breaks down to 10.1% of the Army, 3.5% of the Navy, and 2% of the RAF.  'In October last year, the armed forces launched a recruitment drive to attract people of different backgrounds. “The British Army needs to reflect British society,” said Defence Minister Philip Hammond. “This is clearly a challenge now; to recruit from the ethnic minorities within British society in proportions that reflect that society.”'

*A Royal Marine drill instructor who ill-treated new recruits, including hitting one in the groin with a stick, has been fined £1750. 'Sentencing him, Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett said that while young commandos and marines have to be trained to a very high standard, "there is no place in training for physical and mental abuse". The judge added that although serious, Clark's behaviour was not severe enough to warrant a custodial sentence or a demotion in rank. "It is clear from what we have heard, what you did was out of genuine over-zealousness and you had the interest of the corps at your heart," he said'

*The Armed Forces mental health charity Combat Stress 'says members of the Territorial Army who serve on the front line are at far greater risk of developing the condition than ordinary troops as they don't have the same level of support when returning home from conflicts...
The charity’s Chief Executive Andrew Cameron said: “"The preponderance of post-traumatic stress disorder amongst veterans who are reservists is 50% higher than it is for regular servicemen," he said. "The reason for that is they don't get the level of support from their regiment, their ship or their squadron that they might have done if they were a regular.'
[today's annual MoD report on military mental health: ]

*A report by the Defence Committee suggests that the UK Armed Forces may continue to recruit in Scotland even if the result of the 2014 referendum is Scottish independence, but invited the UK Governmment to clarify this, and whether they would cover hypothetical transfers by Scots in the UK Armed Forces to the Scottish Defence Force through increasing recruitment. Keith Brown from the SNP asserted: '"I have heard some comment in this Committee about...the ability of an independent Scotland to recruit armed forces. We believe first of all that the Scottish regiments, as you may know, have been very effective in terms of recruitment. They have some of the highest levels of recruitment in the current British Army. Beyond that, we believe that we can make it more attractive. I have already mentioned the fact that we would have an agreement whereby there were no compulsory redundancies on people serving in the armed forces during the term of their contract. It is also possible to look at moving beyond where the UK currently is, in terms of the conditions of service for armed forces personnel. We have one of the most restrictive agreements that you have to make when you join the armed forces, in terms of your political and civil liberties. We think that that would make it more attractive. Thirdly, many people in the armed forces whom I have talked to...have found themselves, by and large, tied to one particular role, or they have been continually rotated, in terms of Afghanistan, and are quite unhappy about their prospects for building a career within the UK armed forces."'