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Five Ideas to SOLVE the British Military Recruitment Dilemma


What is the military recruitment dilemma?

Military recruitment is problematic.  And a key issue is that people who get paid good money can’t solve it.  So after six months of analysing YouTube, Facebook, Linkedin, X, Instagram, and yes, even TikTok comments – perhaps I can.  The military recruitment ideas below are not meant to be taken in isolation, and most, if not all of them can be done together.  If any Members of Parliament or the General Staff are reading this, please feel free to help yourselves, I know that your idea buckets must be completely barren now.

1.  The Infant-Infantry

Very few militaries on the planet consider children to be the solution to their needs, but very few countries are mentally agile or brave enough to survive the modern world.  The British military, however, knows that an SA80 in the hands of a 14-year-old Glaswegian is just as deadly as an AK-47 in the hands of any rascally Russian Vatnik.  From the trenches of Ypres, the decks of the imperial navies, the streets of Kampala and the Killing Fields of Cambodia – children have been an effective part of militaries.  Some as young as nine have proven that they can carry ammunition, fit into tunnel systems and the mechanisms of aircraft, artillery and tanks, and in a pinch, they can step into any SO1 role with relative ease.

Because the minimum wage is so low for younger people, this could also be a very cost-effective measure.  The UK could easily raise a battalion of these “ten-pound Privates” for about half the cost of a regular one.  This solution is also popular with many overworked teachers, who pity those kids clogging up overcrowded classrooms and enduring worthless education.  Their hearts desire Call of Duty, Fortnite, the open sea, sky, and glory in battle – not GCSEs!

2.  The British Commonwealth Legion

The Enlistment of Foreigners Act 1854 gave the country the power it needed before, and by Jove, Parliament can honour us again.  Whilst the concept may be a copy of the French Foreign Legion, just like the class system of the Normans, if it’s good enough for the French, it’s good enough for us.

The UK already has a long history of Commonwealth and Sepoy armies, and we used international units before to great effect (e.g. No.10 (Inter-Allied) Commando unit in WWII).  This system will yield significant numbers, and such great savings, that it can’t be passed up.  Anyone who’s served on Herrick operations knows we could’ve solved the whole thing in a year for a tenth of the price if only we had a Corps of Gurkhas.

Commonwealth soldiers have been fantastic, but we should open their opportunity to the whole world.  Fitness and aptitude assessments, as well as English literacy testing, will be done overseas, and successful applicants will be given a one-way plane ticket and a space in basic training, after which they will fill one of the many empty bedspaces found all over the forces.  They will serve a four-year minimum contract, then with one or two lucky family members (we’ll work out the details later) they’ll have earned their place in the country.  They can continue to serve in the forces or head into the green and pleasant land as a full UK citizen and resident.

3.  National Service+

This one is a favourite of the older generation, and for good reason.  Wimpy young adults won’t be making cringe videos on TikTok when they are getting thrashed up and down Mt Tumbledown and sweeping pinecones outside the Commanding Officer’s office.  Youths fighting outside Argos in Kilburn should be fighting international terrorists or the Americans outside the chow hall in Camp Lemonnier! And if they like choreographed dance instead, what better place than as the rear marker on the parade square of Horse Guards?

There won’t be a piece of brass unpolished as everyone between the ranks of Corporal and Warrant Officer Class 2 is given a five-person work party, and every Officer rank is issued a batsman and a personal assistant.  Watch as productivity doubles, triples, and quadruples with the arrival of the press-ganged wayward youth and their ‘meet-me-outside McDonald’s’ haircuts and vape pens.  Like lead paint, CFCs, industrially produced trans-fat, spanking, and open racism on TV – National Service worked for the Boomer generation, and it will work for the Zoom-Alpha generation of the future wars.

4.  The Junta British Bake Off

Instead of trying to weed out nationalistic recruits and appeal to progressive candidates, let’s embrace them instead.  Many would-be soldiers yearn for Tommy Robinson, they simply crave militaristic fascism, and they want to serve; so why shun them?

The military is already full of SNCOs who pray at night for an autocratic dictatorship; they meet in corners of the mess and work offices to plan for it, and when civilians are out of earshot, they practise running the Department for Education and National Rail.  There is not a Major worth their salt who hasn’t got a combat estimate to storm Parliament with ‘three dozen good soldiers’ in the back of their Game of Thrones Moleskine notebook.  Every General rank has a lockstep approach to immigration, crime, and juvenile delinquency that could never be found in a ‘democratic’ society.  Let’s give them what they want.  The country is utterly weighed down with banal choices, so let’s take it away and watch those numbers swell – nothing fills empty jackboots like the choice of wearing them or being under them.

5.  A Good War

Simple, easy and undoubtedly effective – a war maketh the war maker.  It must be a British solo effort with delineated sides, although we should be allowed one junior partner like Denmark or Estonia.  Clear good guys to help and clear bad guys that we can beat, but it also can’t be too easy, so there must be some death to keep the passion alive.  For it to be fair, each service will get its moment to shine; therefore, we’ll need a Naval and coastal landing simultaneously with an air assault and combat for aerial supremacy.  Then a good number of tanks and conventional battles before a quick jump into reconstruction and nation-building before it all comes to an end.

It’s good for the development of those in the military, it’s good for the defence industry, and frankly, it’s a good distraction for the general public from the rising cost of living.  What is more enjoyable and patriotic than gallantry medals flying off the shelves to adorn the chests and caskets of thousands on TV? All we have to do is pick the place, get on with it and wait for the recruitment hotlines to ring.

The So What?

Each one of these fantastically well-thought-out ideas was based on the clever and articulate replies found under every official British military post, video, and comment.  Clearly, it is vital that the military cares about public perception, so these are the most popular ones to solve the recruitment dilemma.

If none of these options are viable, then I don’t know what to say.  Perhaps the only options left are to abandon politicised recruitment targets, reevaluate the core purposes of the Armed Forces, conduct morally unambiguous worthwhile operations so people actually want to join the military, and really examine the issues with retention.

Author note: The premise of this article is to parody the ‘clickbaity’ type of news articles one sees in modern media, but also to satirise those people who consider themselves to have easy and simple solutions to inadequate military recruitment.  The ideas presented in the article are drawn directly from overly common and overly simplistic takes whenever there is a military post or news article about recruitment.  The intent is to draw out some distinct issues with how the military looks at recruitment – there is too much time spent caring about public perception, as opposed to just filling in the ranks.

Author Alex Archer
Alexander Archer

Alexander Shane Archer is a former Intelligence Officer who now works in geopolitical consulting in the Middle East. He still offers intellectual and nuanced insight into military and international issues to anyone at the till in Waitrose who will listen. Connect with him on Linkedin and check out some of his articles on medium.

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