FOR a South African unused to it, it’s startling to see the number of gung-ho military recruitment advertisements flighted on British television. Targeted at youths who have grown up playing Call of Duty on their gaming consoles, the adverts make military life look like a scene from a video game.
There’s much fun to be had and skills to acquire. It’s like the Boy Scouts, but you get to play with real tanks, shoot real guns, blow stuff up, build bridges over rivers in far-flung locations. Kwaai, ek sê.
Join the Royal Marines and you could stalk and capture baddies with the sharp skills they’ll teach you.
The advert for the reserves must get a special mention. That particular message can be summed up thus: you might be a stationery salesman in a digital age, so why not ditch the daily drudgery for camouflage on the weekends and be more than a pencil pusher?
Chemring, one of the companies sponsoring the South Wiltshire College, produce munitions, bomb detectors, countermeasures and pyrotechnics and supplies some of the world's most repressive regimes. The CS gas canister on the right was used against protesters in Egypt in 2011. (Copywrite Orhamilton/flickr)
Concluding observations: UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND
12. The Committee notes that, according to the State party’s declaration under article 3 made upon ratification, the minimum age for voluntary recruitment is 16 years and regrets the fact that the State party indicates that there are no plans to change this.
13. The Committee encourages the State party to consider reviewing its position and raise the minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces to 18 years in order to promote the protection of children through an overall higher legal standard. In the meantime, the Committee recommends that, in recruiting among those persons who have not yet attained the age of18, priority is given to those who are the oldest.
Conference reaffirms existing Union policies which:
1. Call for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
2. Oppose military action or intervention in Iran.
The Global Campaign for Education have reported that over half of the children out of school are now living in countries where there are wars taking place. Conference notes with particular concern the huge refugee crisis within and beyond Iraq’s borders, one consequence of which is the impossibility of education for most learners of all ages.
The British Regular Army visits schools as a major part of its recruitment programme and a third of new soldier recruits are aged under 18. These recruits may face serious personal risk and challenging moral dilemmas, yet their terms of service can prevent them from leaving the army for up to six years. Given that minors are less able than adults to make free, informed and responsible decisions about enlisting, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the House of Commons/Lords Joint Committee on Human Rights have recommended raising the minimum age of recruitment to 18. Both Committees also recommend that the UK ensure that disadvantaged communities are not targeted for recruitment.
A short film made by Headliners and ForcesWatch, 2014
Why does the military have a 'youth engagement' policy and why is the government promoting 'military ethos' within education? What is the impact of military activities taking place in schools? ForcesWatch have been working with the charity Headliners and a group of young people in London to produce this short film which explores these questions and gives teenagers the opportunity to voice their reaction to the military’s interest in their lives.
On this day 100 years ago, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo in an action that led to the First World War. Unchecked militarism in Europe was also a major factor.
Today is also Armed Forces Day, one of the clearest indications of the re-militarisation of British society. Established in 2009 to increase public support for the forces, there are over 200 public events, many billed as 'family fun days'. This week also saw Uniform to Work Day promoting the reserve forces and 'Camo Day' in schools.
You may have seen some symptoms of an increasingly militarised society over the past few years. Soldiers on a train in uniform. The change in tone of Remembrance Day, from ‘never again’ to ‘support out troops.’ Michael Gove’s determination to get the military into schools so ‘every child can benefit from the values of a military ethos.'
I had been noticing the trend for months when I met with Emma Sangster from Forces Watch, a tiny NGO focused on the issue of unethical military recruitment. She confirmed that there is a conscious strategy for a more militarised society, outlined in a 2008 report by Quentin Davies MP and senior defence officials Bill Clark and Martin Sharp.
Through articles, images, survey data and interviews, Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter It documents the seeds of war that are planted in the minds of young people in many different countries. However, it also explores the seeds of resistance to this militarisation that are being sown resiliently and creatively by numerous people. READ MORE