The Ministry of Defence is rejecting claims it deliberately targets young people from the poorest backgrounds in Army recruitment campaigns.

The human rights group Child Soldiers International, claims it's seen an internal document showing 16 to 24-year-olds in towns and cities in the North of England are being targeted.

The British Army is facing a recruitment crisis and is 4,000 soldiers short of its target.

The latest glossy ad campaign is accused of cynically targeting young people from the most deprived areas of the UK.

According to an internal briefing document seen by The Guardian newspaper, the 'This is Belonging' campaign is aimed at 16-24-year-old “C2DEs” – which is marketing speak for the lowest three social and economic groups.

The document also says while the campaign is UK wide, it’s weighted towards to cities in the north of England including Manchester, Sheffield and Doncaster.

The MoD says it’s not targeting working-class audience, insisting it’s a “national recruitment campaign designed to reach a broad audience.”

It’s not just soldiers who can fight that the Army is trying to attract. In the modern battlespace, it also needs people with technical expertise. 

At the recent Land Warfare conference in London, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the armed forces needs to recruit a new generation of cyber geeks and tech wizards to tackle the spiralling threat of cyber warfare.

In the future, traditional routes in of recruitment, basic training and promotion through the ranks could be abandoned in favour of lateral entry - fast-tracking qualified people straight into senior positions.

Experts in cyber warfare, aviation and tech wizards are top of the Army’s wish list.

They could be recruited from industry, government, academia and the public sector.

Reservists are already being recruited in a similar way and the military says it’s proved a successful model.

The first hires are still at least a couple of years away but in the future, the plans could fundamentally change the face of the British Army, with as much as 30 percent made up of specialists.

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