2007 - 2021


We covered the problems with Karmarama’s new army advert way back in January (‘This is Belonging’) pointing out it was organised violence as an antidote to anomie, invasion as response to crisis of community.

But it is also about an attack on boys and an exploitation of poverty.

As Duad Alakbarov reported for Bella last year:

“The armed forces continue with their policy of targeting their school visits excessively to schools in deprived areas and children from low-income families, the Department of Education ignores the UN’s recommendations that some form of peace education should be part of the curriculum in UK state schools, and supports initiatives encouraging a military ethos. According to ForcesWatch report, the armed forces recorded 1783 visits to 377 Scottish education institutions. 1455 visits were to 303 Scottish state secondary schools, of which 42% were made by the Army, 31% by the Navy and 27% by the RAF during the academic years of 2010-11 and 2011-12. This equates to an average of two visits per year for every state secondary school in Scotland.”

We’re glad to see the Guardian and CommonSpace this week reporting on the exploitation:

“Army chiefs insist they do not specifically target poorer people from deprived areas, but seek out talented and motivated youngsters of all social classes from across the country. However, the charity Child Soldiers International, which obtained the briefing document, said the strategy set out in them clearly showed this was not true.

This is Belonging advert from British Army.

Rachel Taylor, the charity’s director of programmes, said: “What’s very clear from the document is that the army is deliberately and strategically targeting young people from deprived backgrounds who have limited options in life.

“It’s not about presenting the military as one of many options. It’s about exploiting people who don’t have a lot else going for them and taking advantage of that lack of opportunity to fill the ranks usually for the most dangerous and badly paid roles.”

The focus on 16 year-olds is very specific and very intentional.

Taylor continues: “There’s a reason why 16-year-old boys are a great target for recruitment. At that age adolescents are primed into risk-taking behaviour, into wanting to prove themselves as a man, into wanting to establish an identity, a sense of belonging, which is really played upon in the current advertising campaign. Teenage boys want to take risks; they are lured in by the romance, the glamour, the danger. The marketing strategy very cynically takes advantage of that.”

It’s a British version of what’s going on in America.

In Chicago under plans by Mayor Rahm Emanuel a more extreme form of recruitment is being set up whereby high school pupils are to be forced to either be enlisted in the military, have a job, be enrolled in a gap-year program, or have a college acceptance letter before the Chicago public schooling system will give them their diploma.

This is taking the militarisation of young men to a new level.

“Find where you belong”.



Comments (10)

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  1. Robert Eric Swanepoel says:

    Actually, this is belonging! http://www.belonging4us.com/

    The National says: “THIS passionate, pertinent and impressively thorough documentary from debut director Morag Livingstone takes a comprehensive look at the events that surrounded three industrial disputes. They involve three decades and three governments, but share a common thread of a threat to collectivism, democracy and sense of belonging, within trade unions in particular and the UK population as a whole … “

  2. florian albert says:

    It is legitimate to question what appears to be the the armed forces deliberate policy of targeting deprived areas when seeking recruits.
    It is also worth asking who else is offering employment and career opportunities to such youngsters ?
    Gerry Hassan and others have used the phrase ‘educational apartheid’ to describe Scotland’s schooling system.
    Ten years of an SNP government has made no impact on this division.
    What passes for the left in Scotland has had little to say about ending this particular form of apartheid.
    If the choice is low pay/low skill jobs or joining the army, the latter may be the lesser evil.

      1. florian albert says:

        Yes, really.

        Young men join the army – as they have done for generations – because it might be better than remaining in the dead end environment where they grew up.

        The SNP government -after nearly a decade in power – announced that ‘closing the attainment gap’ was its first priority.
        That means improving the levels of attainment at the bottom. (At least, I assume it does not involve shrinking high achievement.)
        Think how much might have been achieved if the SNP had started this in 2007. Or, better still, the Labour/LibDem government of 1999.)
        The attainment gap has been there for all to see since Higher and Standard Grade results were first published when Michael Forsyth was Scottish Education Minister, long before the establishment of a Scottish Parliament.

  3. Edward Andrews says:

    As someone who believes that Scotland will need trained soldiers when we become independent and also that anything which inhibits kids in the poorer reasons from having the confidence to go after one of the few universals careers which are on option.
    Yes I have served and been involved in Cadets. I remember turning up at a school because of my day job and there was a teacher who was having problems with a bunch of Kids. When I turned up they recognised me and braced up. It defused the situation. The teacher was amazed. You see I respected the kids and they respected me.
    It seems to me that the objections to the recruitment of kids from deprived backgrounds are more to do with a pacifist view than anything else. I am not a pacifist. Ultimately we have to train people to do things on our behalf which we would rather not do ourselves
    I served with a Major who had left home as a boy to get away from the poverty of the household. At first he had been a bad lad ended up in the glasshouse. Caught himself on joined in the offers education rose through the ranks and was eventually commissioned.
    At the same time I know people who once served who sleep on the streets, who have all kinds of deep trauma from their military experience.
    So it is not enough to simply say that it is wrong to recruit people from the poorest areas (incidentally the “recruitment visits” are to change literature, or to meet kids by prior arrangement.)
    As Florian Albert above says there have to be decent alternative jobs for the kids at the bottom end of the Educational Apartheid. That is true.
    There seems to be an view among those who are progressives that the Army is for thicks and they are cannon fodder. Sorry that is not true. They are highly skilled operatives. There are actually quite a lot of hoops they have to pass. Some of the stuff which you produce comes straight out of the mentality of the Irish Magistrates who use to let people off provided they went and enlisted in the British Army.
    Yes we need a debate about the armed forces. What about the people who want to join up from their youth. Do we send them back to ordinary School where they spend the 5th and 6th Years not doing a lot, or to Harrogate where the Army Apprentice College continues their education in a military context and they have a head start in their chosen career?
    OK if you are like Child Soldiers International basically against all military endeavour then your position is fine and to be welcomed by those who agree with it. However I suggest that as we look at where Scotland is going we recognise that we will need our senior NCOs and Warrant Officers to run the forces of an independent Scotland and we will need the best we can get.
    Scotland suitably armed and with the right personnel mix looks a lost less stupid than an unarmed Scotland trying to deal with the threat which we will be under simply because of our Geographical situation.

    1. James Mills says:

      Where to begin ?

      ”You see I respected the kids and they respected me .” Wow ! What a useless teacher he must have been when you simply walked in ( marched in ? ) and immediately the class could see that you ”respected” them and so reciprocated . Aye , right !

      ”We will need our senior NCO’s and Warrant officers to run the forces of an independent Scotland ”- so we recruit these from the State Secondaries – what about the officers? The inference is that they do not come from this arena – perhaps the private sector ? Please!

      1. Edward Andrews says:

        Sorry I didn’t make it clear that they knew me through the cadets. The point I was making is that the teacher failed.
        We get the senior NCOs and WO through the army apprentice college. We should get the Officers from the comprehensive schools like most people in Scotland.

      2. Edward Andrews says:

        I thought I made it clear that I was serving in the cadets but at the school in another capacity.
        The SNOs and WOs come from the Army Apprentice College. The officers come the comprehensive schools like many people in Scotland.

        1. Geacher says:

          As an army brat with a father who saw action in Dunkirk and Normandy and who served for 40 years, I concur with everything you say. A soldiers life can be a great thing…they learn a trade, learn discipline and they are well looked after.

  4. T. Rozga says:

    It will be interesting when we become independent and the nation can have its chance to shape our military future. Some basics I would like to see is our constitution clearly and firmly stating that it is illegal for us to occupy/invade any other country. I think we should lean heavily towards a reservist force. While the full time military could be mostly coastal sea based, patrolling our waters. And let’s do it how the Germans do it and make it compulsory to rebel and report where you believe orders are wrong or harmful.

    Regarding schools being visited for recruiting purposes, I think this should be stopped altogether. It is completely opportunistic and the current uk foreign policy is far to wreck less to go into a place of education and ask young adults to join up. It says it all really when these recruiters target areas where deprivation is higher.

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