Talking to an old mate the other day. His son went to enquire about a career in the Army. It went something like this: As he walked through the freshly-painted doors, festooned with sponsorship logos, he was met by a spotty-looking rather weedy civilian FAFFER. Jones: Good morning - Id like to talk to someone about joining the Army. FAFFER: Thats me how can I help? Jones: I want to talk to somebody actually in the Army. Somebody who knows what theyre talking about and can tell me about what life will be like in the Army. FAFFER: Silly old you. We got rid of those old dinosauric recruiting NCOs a few months ago. They were nothing but trouble turning away blokes who looked like they couldnt punch their way out of a wet paper bag, and even some who couldnt read and write, or who had criminal convictions! Jones: Whats wrong with that? FAFFER: Were not judgemental like that. We can see their potential and let nothing stand in the way of these fine young men and women realising their potential. In addition, they were weeding out far too many disabled, women, and those of unusual sexual predilections. Jones: Really, why would all that matter? FAFFER: Well, its nothing to do with the fact that we get paid for those we refer on the Army training establishments, or that we are paid a special bonus for referring on those types which are under-represented in the Army. And we are not connected with Emma Harrison at A4E in the slightest. Its all about, in the words of one of our Labour Party non-exec chaps, removing the class, ethnic and physical barriers that so harm our young adults and prevent them breaking through the military glass ceiling that so thwarted his great ambitions. Jones: That sounds interesting who is this chap? FAFFER: Im afraid I cant tell you at the moment something about due process prior to a criminal trial. Jones: Oh, well. Can you tell me what Ill be doing in basic training? FAFFER: Well currently youll be doing all that silly stuff like PT, shooting, and field craft. However, once we take it over (its currently being considered for outsourcing), we intend to create a virtual training environment where people can shine regardless of their physical or mental prowess. Jones: Arent those things essential to an effective Army: FAFFER: They were but the NMA is going to do things much differently. The current plan is that post-2015 they hunker down in UK enclaves, only coming out to assist the civil powers in emergencies (subject of course to strict risk-assessment and health and safety assurances) or helping out down local old-peoples homes doing a bit of community engagement. Jones: Oh, wont there be an opportunity for travel and adventure then? FAFFER: Of course. At least bi-monthly you will all be shipped off for an intensive 2-week diversity programme. Those that pass will be rewarded with an attachment to one of the UKs leading diversity organisations, whilst those that fail will stay on for a further 2 weeks re-education. Win, win, all round. JONES: Thats not what I was hoping for at all. What about adventure training? My father was telling me all about the great times they had skiing down in Bavaria, or climbing and canoeing in the Harz mountains, or Army sports championships, and how it all contributed to unit morale and team-building. FAFFER: Old hat, and grossly exaggerated. Were going to replace it with something better though a government-approved team-building organisation is going to deliver some really exciting stuff there wont be any competitive stuff or anything dangerous, of course, but everyone will get a prize. JONES: Where will I be housed. Dad was telling me about all the great family quarters we lived in, and how he and Mum really felt part of the family? FAFFER: Another myth Im afraid, peddled by those with vested interests. In future, well ensure that you have the opportunity to rent/buy a cutting-edge, environmentally friendly, property, within cycling distance of the barracks, and which will be provided in partnership with one of our leading civilian property companies, drawing upon the fantastic model developed by Blue Force. Now, how about you sign up great opportunity and if you do it today I will hit one of my key targets for the month? JONES: Sorry, gotta dash got another interview down at TESCOs. Before I go I passed this office a few months ago and I could have sworn the sign above it said Army Careers Information Office, and now it says ASTCRO? FAFFER: Yes. Afraid the term careers was felt to be rather old hat so we re-named it Army Short Term Contracts Recruiting Office. Blue sky thinking thats us. --------------------------------- All characters and organisations in this story are fictional, any perceived reference to an actual person or organisation is merely co-incidental.