Lack of Recruits

Considering all the news these days concerning the shortages in personnel for the army I wonder if any consideration should be given to raising a few "Penal Battalions". Perhaps go back to the days when enlisting was an option as opposed to jail time.

Been done many times before with some success. wiki article.

"Penal battalion service was very dangerous: the official view was that they were highly expendable and were to be used to reduce losses in regular units. They were used in attempts to break through particularly stubborn enemy defences with human wave attacks, reconnaissance to determine enemy strength, as rearguards during retreats and in conspicuous ways (eg, wearing dark, instead of snow camouflage, clothing) to attract enemy fire away from regular units".

I post - "a bit tongue in cheek" but maybe the idea has some merit.

Views anyone ?
I had some thoughts on this a few years back. Here:

The forces don't want national service, and there is no reason to drag productive youths away from whatever they're doing to force them to find some community spirit. If they're being productive they've already sorted that one out for themselves.

That said, we have a problem with chavs that ASBOs aren't going to solve. We have overcrowded prisons also so what we need is some other option. This is where a form of national service can play a part.

What is required are penal battalions of the Royal Engineers and suchlike which are an alternative option to prison for criminals age 17 to 35. These battalions should be staffed by regular army NCOs and Officers, for whom a successful tour would be a career boost. Our young "volunteers" are packed off for 6 months beasting/training then sent to the battalions, military training establishments being pretty close to prisons anyway this shouldn't be expensive to do.

The battalions should be posted abroad almost constantly, preferably in natural disaster zones or to assist in developing the least developed countries out there. Some of the toerags might even think for a bit when they discover being born on that god awful British housing estate they blame all their problems was actually when put in perspective a bit of a stroke of luck.

The clincher in all this is these battalions receive pay equivalent to the regular soldiers, but they don't get to see it. Give them a few quid a week for spends, but 90% of what they earn is banked for them. When their sentence is complete, this money is also spent for them. Buy them a van, and tools for whatever trade they've been trained in. Buy them a years advertising in whichever locality they want to live up front. Get them an accountant and everything else they need to turn them into good and productive little White Van Men.

At the end of the day, deprive them of all their excuses. It always works on me.
The only reason in my view why there is a lack of recruits is because the medical standards are too picky I know 7 people on my uniformed services course who got failed or deffered for silly reasons and they would have made good soldiers , I mean obviously if you are unhealthy military life is not for you but the standards are too high. Ofcourse there is an argument for this which i agree with why the British Armed forces are the best in the world ( obviously ;) )is because the standards are set so high, fitness, health, training, experience and attitude wise and in my opinion that shouldnt faulter.

Bert_preast, cracking post mate that is what i tried saying kinda, Dont let the standards faulter on the combat side or we would loose all effectivness the Army has, instead, get them doing humanitarian missions with an engineer unit building houses,bridges,water supplies etc for natural disaster zones or even hearts and minds. but dont let them reap the rewards of service life until they have changed, i.e time done/served etc

There are still minefields to be cleared in many parts of the world for when the entire third world is suitably irrigated, hospitals/schools built (actually there are plenty of schools and hospitals in the UK that could do with a rebuild)

thinking about it they could do 6 months abroad, 6 months in UK then back abroad till sentence completed.
Bert for PM

My sentiments exactly. Maybe when they have mixed with a more sociable class and raised themselves out of their cesspit lifestyle, they will have more respect for themselves and others. Ppl may even begin to be their friends.


At a time of critical manning problems across the whole of the army, just where are the SNCO's etc going to be found from :?
Sven Hassel readers of the world unite! :wink:
I'd come out of retirement to beast the little barstewards just for food and board! It cost more to keep someone in prison [unproductive] as it does to put someone to work.
Recividists or refusal to comply would in my game be a ticket to Ascension Island or some other remote British owned location for the duration.
Sod the Politically correct, sod the ECHR and sod the H & S fannies!

Ah!.... feel better now.

[eidted once for tipsy typo]
I liked Ascension Island - no need to spoil it with layabouts. Of course to make an eco friendly journey they would have to row there in a galley. Obviously the sentence is not applicable to those with less than a two months to serve ( a month each way)
EScotia said:
At a time of critical manning problems across the whole of the army, just where are the SNCO's etc going to be found from :?
That is a problem, I admit. But not a long term one, I'd say enough of the bastards would transfer to the regs to make up the initial shortfall in time. It's not like none of them will make good soldiers - I think plenty of us here either came perilously close to going down their path or did go down it and got away with it. I know I did. Not that I made a good soldier, but that's not the point. :D

For the short term, as Exile said - look for crusty ex regulars or sicknotes who aren't going on deployments anyway. We may be fat hasbeens, but fat beastings are probably still within our operational capability.
being boring here i know..... the problem is not recruitment, its retention.
Recruiting Group are doing a good job getting applicants, the issue is marketing only takes them so far, then reality of an underfunded overstretched army bites as trained soldiers.

Penal battalions would reduce sign off, but the troops might not play so well together or with others...
The focus has certainly felt like recruiting and not retention in recent times.
If the TA dropped its recruiting age from 17 n a half to 16 like the regs there would be a fair amount teens joining including me!
By the time we're 18 most will of lost the interest or have other commitments, you gotta get em whilst they're interested!
Once theyve been to afew good weekends then theyll be hooked.


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