Critics have said an Army recruitment campaign, which promotes the emotional support given to troops, will fail to target those most likely to sign-up.
Retired Colonel Richard Kemp said the new £1.6m recruitment campaign will not solve the Army’s “recruiting crisis”.
New radio, TV and online adverts seek to address concerns potential soldiers might have about religion or sexuality.
They ask: “What if I get emotional?”, “Can I be gay in the Army?” and “Do I have to be a superhero?”
The new adverts, which are all voiced by serving soldiers, are part of the Army’s “belonging campaign”.
In one, a Muslim soldier explains how the army has allowed him to practice his faith.
General Sir Nick Carter, head of the Army, said the traditional recruit had been young, white men, aged from 16-25, but demographic changes meant there were now “not as many of those around as there once were”.
“Our society is changing and I think it is entirely appropriate for us therefore to try and reach out to a much broader base to get the talent we need in order to sustain combat effectiveness,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
However, Colonel Kemp – the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, who served in the in the Army until 2006 – said while the adverts were aimed at a number of minority groups, they missed out the Army’s core recruitment pool.
“I think what the army needs to do in order to deal with its recruiting problem is not to specifically appeal to minorities – of course, the more people from all parts of society who join the better.
“But it’s even more important than that to fill the army up with people who want to fight and want to be soldiers. And this, I don’t think, will do that.”
Instead, he called for the Army to focus on retention problems and deal with its “impenetrable” application process and the “horrific bureaucracy” surrounding it.
Rob McLeod said on twitter: “Couldn’t be in starker contrast to the amazing new ‘They come from the sea ad’ for The Royal Marines”.
Major General Timothy Cross, who retired in 2007, said the Army was “really struggling” with recruitment and should not be trying to be “jolly nice to people”.
A report, compiled by Conservative MP Mark Francois, last year warned the armed forces were “hollowing out” due to recruitment issues, blaming high employment rates and demographic changes within the UK.
Between April 2016 and March 2017, 8,194 soldiers joined the British Army.
However, 9,775 left during the same period, with family life and “opportunities outside the forces” among the reasons given.
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Categories: British Army