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.
Original article written by and sourced from bbc.co.uk