Recruiting woes

Army risks losing its reputation, warns general
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 21/08/2005)

One of the Army's most senior officers has warned that it is in danger of losing its reputation as a "highly respected British institution" because it is being forced to recruit soldiers from a "morally corrupt and dysfunctional" society, where young men idolise foul-mouthed footballers.

Maj Gen Graeme Lamb: 'If trust is
lost the road back will be blocked'
Maj Gen Graeme Lamb branded many recruits as "cocky and arrogant and brought up on a diet of football brats and binge drinking. . . who are not educated in and able to recognise self-discipline".

His stark assessment came in a speech to senior infantry officers about the war in Iraq, entitled "Operational Success - Strategic Failure". He said that allegations of prisoner abuse against soldiers could fatally undermine the Army.

"We are in very real danger of losing our place in society as a highly respected British institution, an institution built on over two centuries of bloody investment and one which today stands virtually alone in the eyes of this and many other nations. . . This trust, this underlying admiration, is today under direct and sustained attack.

"This trust afforded to us by the Government and the public allows us to operate as an army unlike any other. If we lose this trust - like parts of the medical profession, the political parties, the police and even more recently the Catholic Church - the road back is simply blocked. Heed the warning, the road back if trust is lost will be blocked for the better part of my life if not a generation."

Gen Lamb, the commander of the Army's 3rd Division, received the DSO after leading troops in Iraq from July to December, 2003, when the Army was under almost daily attack from insurgents.

The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that his comments, made to the Infantry Conference in Warminster, Wiltshire, recently, reflect concern among senior officers, including Gen Sir Mike Jackson, the Chief of the General Staff, that the military's reputation is being eroded by allegations of abuse in Iraq, bullying and sex scandals and the deaths of recruits at Deepcut.

In a reference to abuse in Iraq, Gen Lamb said: "The officers and men under our command did not live up to the standard we expected of them. Those who failed were empowered when they should not have been, were left unsupervised when we probably knew they should not have, were allowed to embrace and populate a culture that was simply unworthy of us all."

He appeared to suggest that the problems were exacerbated by having to recruit and retain soldiers of poor quality because of the pressure of military commitments.

"In striving to achieve hard manning targets we retained some of those we might not have, while we recruited from a society which has in the last 30 years become marginally more dysfunctional and increasingly self-interested and in places morally corrupt. And all the while being told we were out of step with 'Cool Britannia'.

"The argument over whether highly paid and very public football stars should be allowed to swear blind mouthed and in public at authority, in this case the referee, has a bearing on my point. These are the role models our recruits and soldiers are brought up on."

A senior officer who was at the conference said: "Gen Lamb is a highly respected officer and he didn't pull any punches. His reference to foul-mouthed footballers, which we all knew was a reference to Wayne Rooney and others like him, was absolutely accurate. It needed to be said."

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "These are the personal views of Gen Lamb. The Army plays an important role in the personal development of new recruits and seeks to ensure the highest standards are maintained by providing first class training for all."

The above is from the Daily Telegraph, but appeared in a number of papers on the same date. I was surprised to find it isn't on ARRSE yet (unless I've missed the topic- sorry Mod!).

I have my own views on this. What do others think?
I think most of our recruits are actively choosing not to follow the yob/chav/ned lifestyle when they apply to join. Isn't this the same catchment population which reputedly has 1 in 3 using so-called recreational drugs whilst we are pegging the spread of this disease at less than 1 in a 100?

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