[News] Armed Forces Recruitment Age Debate, 21st May 4pm


Note: we have agreed with Bad CO to post news of the debate over recruiting age taking place on 21[SUP]st[/SUP] May at 4pm, as a live example of the sort of content we would like to publicise via ARRSE. We have not yet agreed how to handle feedback and cannot yet respond to opinions given in response - so please don't expect replies yet.

Westminster Hall Debate: Armed Forces Recruitment Age
Tuesday, 21[SUP]st[/SUP] May 4pm-4.30pm

A Westminster Hall Debate on the armed forces recruitment age will take place on Tuesday, arguing to change the age for recruitment from 16 years old to 18 years old.

A 30 minute adjournment debate provides an opportunity for backbench MPs to raise matters relating to government administration or policy - and to obtain a response from a government minister who must be present during the debate.

To watch this debate live go to: Player.
If they raise the age to 18 they will lose a lot of potentially very good recruits, who on achieving 18 may by then, be in other employment.

This is all down to some cobblers about 'Child Soldiers'. FFS it's the British not the Lords Resistance Army we're talking about!


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Ah but we've already established in that other thread on child soldiering that we're up there with the likes of Liberia; we're clearly an evil country.

Opposition to UK policy on recruitment age is nothing to do with the allowing charity lobbyists an opportunity to work in a country with plumbing, media coverage and lower instances of rape and murder.
Forget all the child soldier nonsense, no soldier fresh out of training will deploy on an operational tour until they are 18 anyway. The time between a fresh recruit signing up at 16/17 and passing out to join a unit is spent training and learning skills.

So IMO this is more about further education and employment training beyond secondary school and whether taking the Queen's shilling at such a young age is giving teenagers an opportunity of a career, or at an impressionable age are they being coerced into embarking on a career which they wouldn't necessarily consider if they had spent 2 years in civilian further education.

Some of us may not have joined the army had we stayed on in further education past 18, however being coerced or not the advantage of attracting impressionable teenagers and giving them options beyond a life of petty crime far out weigh the disadvantage of a few who may sign up for a life of green which they may not necessarily be suited to or wanted.

With one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Europe a life in the armed forces is about the only option out there for school leavers. I entered my final year at school knowing I had a place to join the army as a Junior Leader, true that this took my eye off the ball in terms of exams and exploring other career options, but I certainly don't think I was exploited in any way or that it did me any harm.

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Whilst not disagreeing with your post, UK youth unemployment, though too high, is one of the lower rates in Europe.

I joined at 15 (1971 Junior Leaders) as an alternative to (civilian) further education, while it was clearly "military" it prepared me for not only the rigours of the regular army (only did 6 years) but civilian life, in which I have been very successful, I have also been able to use the skills learnt as a junior leader while deploying to Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Haiti as a civilian team leader .

I am also aware of former Junior Leaders who have been very successful in business and commerce.
Junior soldering - well, it's not really 'true' soldiering, just schooling in a form that the state, especially via the often very blinkered teaching profession cannot provide - has probably saved tens of thousands of youngsters from being cast on the scrap-heap of life over the past 50 years.
I know it did me. I also suspect many discussions such as this are going to be very one sided, I'd like to be proven wrong, but I don't see much call for us ex-junior leaders to speak up to show the long-term benefits of this system.
I was in the wrong crowd at age 14-15,and luckily my dad, took me by the ear, to the recruiting office, to join up.
Which probably saved me,from a life of petty crime, and drugs.
Once away from those bad influences, I knuckled down, to make a career of sorts in the army, and then onto the Police.
Would not have been possible, if I'd waited until 18.
So the system does work, but is it cost effective?.
BAFF is actively engaged with this and has been for some time, including our written evidence to the Armed Forces Bill Committee in 2011. With several MPs, a distinguished retired General and the obvious usual suspects we took part in a discussion at Portcullis House last week. We have raised some detailed points but we emphatically do not support the campaign against under-18 recruitment.

We all know people we know who were juniors and have gone on to do brilliantly in the services, and in subsequent civilian careers. Quite a few ARRSErs have said much the same in a recent thread. What would be tremendously helpful would be to hear from more of the fairly recent graduates of the Foundation Colleges or RN or RAF apprenticeships.


If under 18s cannot be capable of making an informed decision to volunteer for the forces, then logically cannot be capable of making a decision to become a plumber, or a doctor, or anything else, including further education at university. And if they cannot be deemed capable of decision-making, then they must be absolved of all responsibility and must be unable to face prosecution.
Agree broadly with the sentiment of this thread, but when I look back at pictures of my tours I without fail think "****ing hell they were pretty much kids" about some of the very capable young infanteers. I can see why Civvi's would freak out seeing photo's of eighteen year old's on tour - not much is expected from young adults nowadays, its quite a divergence from the norm.
If under 18s cannot be capable of making an informed decision to volunteer for the forces, then logically cannot be capable of making a decision to become a plumber, or a doctor, or anything else, including further education at university. And if they cannot be deemed capable of decision-making, then they must be absolved of all responsibility and must be unable to face prosecution.
That's maybe stretching it slightly. You can walk away from the other career choices. Although these days you might be burdened with a massive student loan for your pains!

For those of you who did not watch the debate on Armed Forces recruitment age on Tuesday 21 May, many of the points raised by MPs during the debate were also raised by forum members in this thread and others.

The transcript of the half hour Westminster Hall adjournment debate is now available online:
House of Commons Hansard Debates for 21 May 2013 (pt 0002)
This includes the response by the Minister who responded on behalf of the Government.

To watch the debate again, the video of the debate is also available online:
Interesting arguments put there thanks, I don't believe in the advantages of cost savings being more valuable than offering 16 year olds an apprenticeship, but the maturity of junior soldiers going straight to a regiment and potentially onto an operational tour could be a reason to consider raising the minimum age limit. I say that as a Junior entrant who deployed on an operational tour within 12 months of joining his regiment, whilst it was a positive and rewarding experience in which no way do I regret I do wonder if my basic training was enough. Perhaps it is only whilst on a tour that any soldier matures regardless of age.

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In similar vein - what about the discriminatory "retirement" ages for Officers and NCOs? Officers 60, NCOs 55. The same applies when applying to go away on tour; SNCO aged 50 is too old, but if Commissioned, can go up to 55?

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