New Army Ad Promises 'Emotional And Physical Support'

The Army is launching an advertising campaign which it says will "emotionally and physically support" new recruits...

The Army is launching an advertising campaign which it says demonstrates it will "emotionally and physically support" new recruits.

The £1.6 million campaign features a series of radio, television and animated adverts, all voiced by serving soldiers, with questions being asked such as "What if I get emotional?" and "Can I be gay in the army?".

One of the adverts shows a Muslim soldier explaining how the Army has helped him to continue to practice his faith.

The new adverts are part of the Army's "belonging campaign"

Other videos ask:

'Can I practise my faith in the Army?', 'Will I be listened to in the Army?' and 'Do I have to be a superhero to join the Army?'.

A medic describes wishing to join the Army after his brother served in Afghanistan.

"I was really worried about whether I would be accepted, but within days I was more than confident about being who I was," he says.

"I'm not afraid to talk about having a boyfriend. I thought I'd have to hide it, but once you've done it you think: 'Why did I have to make it such a big thing for so long?"

‘Neglecting the main group of people interested in joining’

Reacting to the campaign, Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said he did not "subscribe to the view that the British Army is 'going soft'".

But he told BBC Breakfast the ad campaign was "neglecting the main group of people who are interested in joining" and will not solve the "recruiting crisis" facing the armed forces.

He said: "The main group of people who are interested in joining aren't worrying so much about whether they are going to be listened to or if there's an emotional issue.

"What they are worried about more is how they are going to face combat and, not only that - they are going to be attracted by images of combat because that's why people join the armed forces."

He added: "This also reflects the fact that the Army, like the rest of Government is being forced down a route of political correctness.

"What is most important is that the Army recruits and is full of soldiers. It's of secondary importance that they reflect the composition of society."

Head of the Army: 'Less White 16 to 25-year-old Males'

The head of the Army, General Sir Nick Carter, said that the rethink was forced by the fact that there are 25% fewer white 16 to 25-year-old males - a group that traditionally formed the force's recruitment base.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Combat ethos and fighting power remain the British Army's highest priority post-Iraq and Afghanistan, and I can't remember a time in my career when we've had a more combat-hardened Army.

"But what this campaign is about, frankly, is a recognition that we don't have a fully-manned Army at the moment, that the demography of our country has changed, and that we need to reach out to a broader community in order to man that Army with the right talent."

He said: "Our traditional cohort would have been white, male, Caucasian 16 to 25-year-olds and there are not as many of those around as there once were, and our society is changing and I think it's entirely appropriate for us therefore to try and reach out to a much broader base to get the talent we need in order to stay in that combat effectiveness."

"I happen to be very proud of the fact that the British Army really does respect the background, ethnicity and gender of anybody."

Last month Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson halted plans to dump the Army's "Be the Best" slogan along with its historic crest.

British Army Flag Logo
The Army crest was deemed to be "non-inclusive" by marketing experts hired by the MoD.

It was after a document for senior officers emerged which said: "Market research in May 17 found that Be the Best did not resonate with many of our key audiences and was considered dated, elitist and non-inclusive.”

At the time, a Ministry of Defence spokesman said:

"The Defence Secretary believes that the British Army is the best of the best and has put these proposals on hold."

The Army has faced a recruitment and retainment dilemma for a number of years – with just over 82,000 UK regular forces Army personnel in October 2017.

The new campaign will be seen as an attempt to amend this by encouraging people of all backgrounds, regardless of ethnicity, gender or sexual preference to join up.

Retired Army officer, Major General Tim Cross, said he was happy for the Army to be recruiting from a broader base so long as the service remains able to deliver high-intensity fighting power capable of "duffing up the Queen's enemies".

Major General Tim Cross speaking to Forces News.

Commenting on the advert that shows a Muslim soldier explaining how the Army has helped him to continue to practice his faith, he warned that the campaign should be careful not to isolate other people.

"It happens to focus on the Muslim community; my point is we have Gurkhas, we have Sikhs, all faiths represented in the British Army, and what we don't want to be doing is isolating other people by focusing on these particular communities", he said.