Army promises 'independent audit' to drive 'cultural changes'

The Defence Secretary and Chief of the General Staff said the Army is "only as good as the people who serve in it" following a meeting.

The British Army has pledged to undergo an "independent audit" of the service's culture, following a "full and frank discussion" on a "range of issues".

The Defence Secretary and the Chief of the General Staff were among those who met to talk about where changes are needed.

In a joint statement, Mr Wallace and General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith agreed there are "important issues that require all our people to play their part in resolving".

After the meeting, the Chief of the General Staff released a separate statement on his Twitter account, pledging a series of actions to accelerate "cultural changes", including:

  • "An independent audit of Army culture to reinforce the best and weed out the worst";
  • "A review of the selection, education and training for commanders at lieutenant colonel and above to better prepare them for the challenges of command";
  • "An extension of 180°/360° reporting to include middle-ranking officers to improve transparency, and identify the very best contemporary leaders to drive cultural change throughout the organisation";
  • "More focused education, training and pastoral support to everyone in the Army's training establishments".

Gen Carleton-Smith added that the Army "needs to be a great organisation to be in. For everyone".

"That's the challenge and the change now needed," he added.

The announcement followed a joint statement published on the Ministry of Defence's (MOD) Twitter account that promised to address "core and cultural issues" in the Army.

However, it did not give specific details over the next steps aside from a promise to set out "exciting new plans" later this month.

"Recent events have brought to light important issues that require all our people to play their part in resolving," the statement said.

"Later this month the Army will set out exciting new plans for its future structure and deployments.

"It is an exciting offer and the Army should be proud of the work it has done."

Responding to the statement, shadow defence secretary John Healey tweeted: "The Defence Secretary has had 4 reviews into the culture and failings in the military justice system, yet still no reform.

"If he wants something done, he should lead by example and act to implement those recommendations immediately and in full."

Watch: 'We've got to get the culture right,' said the Defence Secretary ahead of the Army leaders meeting.

Ahead of the Army leaders meeting, the Defence Secretary told Forces News there has been "a number of cases" he has found concerning.

"The Army is doing fantastic things in modernising and in reforming what it is and what it is going to do in the world… but we've also got to get the culture right," he said.

"We've got to make sure we address issues around that and make sure that some of these stories that we've seen both in the media, but also that I know of that haven't been seen in the media, are dealt with properly."

Earlier this year, a report into the bullying and sexual harassment of women in the Armed Forces was published, led by Tory MP and former soldier Sarah Atherton.

Ms Atherton's report found that almost two-thirds of women had experienced bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination while serving in the UK Armed Forces.