Recruitment problems

Hi guys,

wonder if you could help, doing an essay on therapy culture and whether this has produced weak individuals. Want to do a bit about recruit training and was wondering if anyone can point me in the direction for information regarding when the recruitment problems first started, in terms of drop out rates and guys not wanting to sign up in the first place. In particular regarding para reg and RM, if poss but anything would be a help. I imagine it was the mid 80's onwards, but dont really know for sure. As its for a uni essay i'd like to be able to quote it, i.e. ideally needs to be written down somewhere(online is fine)

Many thanks

Hmm you are not a military person are you?
Otherwise you would know the military has continually failed to hit recruiting targest on may occasions - what do you do when this happens well if you are at the top you reorgansed downwards and hey presto problem has gone. See SDR, see Options For Change see FAS the answers you seek lie within.

If you want the offical line then hey it all comes down to demgraphics there are peaks and there are troughs and since the eighties and the fall of the so call sixties boom ( people born in the sixties right age to join in the eighties) we have been in famine (ie the resource pool of potentials has fallen) and competition (better paid and less arduous jobs around and low unemployment). Hence recruiting has been hit from many different directions. Add to this what we have today ie involvment in a generally un popular hot potatoe like Iraq and Afghanistan and recruiting get hit once again.

I was asked recently how we could ever reverse the trend - easy I said we just need another world war - swell the ranks and then spend the next 60 years streamlining once again. Now what do they say about history repeating its self once again.

This probably helps little but there is more truth in it that you might think.

Thanks for your speedy response.

I'm embarrassed to say I actually am a military person, albeit a relatively young one, so I'm afraid have very little experience/memory of recruitment other than what has happened over the past 4 or 5 years. I was just wondering, particularly within RM/paras and to a lesser extent inf, whether or not these problems became noticably worse from the mid 80's onwards, the reason being this is when therapy culture(essentially a movement interested in peoples emotions, self esteem and 'issues' that brought about things like the stopping of milling during normal recruit training and a slight 'softening' of training as it was damaging to recruits personalities etc) first emerged in the UK. I was hoping to argue that modern generations have become 'softer' because of this and as such find military training harder because they have to take responsibility for their actions/are treated a bit harshly/cant blame their emotions because therapy culture doesnt really exist in the armed forces.


To prevent people blaming their emotions for whatever reason, the army is definately softening up. I am about to start phase 1 training, which has just been extended by two full weeks, because before it was a bit too concentrated, and the stress was leading to too many drop outs. That is ridiculous. If they cant handle even basic training then how are they meant to survive in an arena of war. I lose more and more respect for my countrymen every day, everyone is turning into big girls (and the big girls, are just getting bigger)!
SavageByName said:
To prevent people blaming their emotions for whatever reason, the army is definately softening up. I am about to start phase 1 training, which has just been extended by two full weeks, because before it was a bit too concentrated, and the stress was leading to too many drop outs. That is ridiculous.
You have two choices: lower the bar, or lengthen the run-up. I know which I would prefer...

thats an example of what I'm harping on about. Good luck with the training mate. So can anyone point me in the direction of any literature/press clippings etc?


There was an official paper I saw on Recruiting (proposal and comment paper) it was written by I feel either an outside org or someone in the Military (ATRA?) who had just done a Price 2 course (spoke of stakeholders, products etc - will be familiar to anyone who has done project management work). I think if I remember rightly it was about recruiting for the future but had a very detailed study about the past (hence my demographic comments). It was a fairly lengthy paper and may also have covered both Regular and TA recruiting. It was a paper and a half and a bit heavy reading but sounds perfect for what you may be looking for - I will hunt around to see if I can find a copy and get back to you - unless others are aware and can assist.

As for your other comments what you say may be true - personally I jioned because I took one look at what happened in the Falklands Conflict and thought I could do that and set out to prove it to myself - simple as that. Over my years of service both civilian and military life has changed. Civilian life has become more leisure orientated (Xbox culture), wealthy, performance driven and competitive (those with qualifications succeed). The forces has always been playing catch up. As a recruit training instructor I did two tours as a Cpl fresh from Brecon then in later years as a Sgt there could only have been 5 years between the two tours but the difference in the Recruit and the way we trained them was huge. When I questioned what had happened bearing in mind those we trained would then go to Bn's and I would then be judged by my peer group on what we provided. The answer was simple. Recruits are fewer in number coming through the door, they come from a culture less use to the riggers of a hard life than before and so as such the Army has had to adjust to reduce watsage and to maintain the quality of the end produce. In short like MSR said either lower the bar or increase the time to achieve the same end result.

That paper sounds pretty useful. If you could find it that would be ideal.

As for recruit problems I agree. As a reservist, my recruit training ended up taking nearly 3 years and again, even in that short period of time I noticed the difference in regular recruits when visiting the training establishment-also certain procedures were dropped, others taken up for reasons as stated above.

Many Thanks

An interesting question!

1. Demographics. There are a lot fewer 16-25 yr olds around than 10 or 20 years ago. The best named paper in the 1980s was called MARILYN - Manning And Recruitment In the Lean Years of the Nineties. Cracking name and well written. Lots of sensible suggestions like improving the Defence Estate, paying soldiers more money, employing more women, funding the Cadets and providing soldiers with civilian qualifications. But even though it was a good report, it ended up in the bin (along with the Bett report, but that's another story), although from memory, the recommendations to survive were to employ more women and provide more civilian qualifications. Ten to fifteen years later and we are fighting off the financiers who want to stop the award of civilian qualifications....

2. Options for Change. MARILYN was overtaken by the Berlin Wall falling over! Options for Change took a very large knife to a huge chunk of the Army. If I am correct, the Army's trained strength was 165,000 strong in 1990 and that had fallen to 110,000 by 1995. The main problem was that as ATRA was formed, it was told to save money, and it did so by cutting the recruiting budget. On paper, we were 110,000 strong but they didn't all exist. The public image was one of cuts, cuts and redundancies - and recruiting fell off a cliff in the mid to late 90s. The recovery programme since then has concentrated on recruiting from other countries and cutting posts (and regiments) from the ORBAT. I think the Army should have a trained strength of about 105,000 and we currently stand at 97,000.

3. Perceptions. Are the new recruits soft? Of course they are! But I am a grumpy old git! Do you mean "physically soft" or "mentally soft", because I think they are both. However, I have no hard evidence other than that which has been discussed elsewhere; it is my opinion based on my experiences. The decision to lengthen Basic Training proves the point, because we wouldn't do it unless there was a serious problem. An additional 14 days at £110 per soldier per day and 10,000 soldiers pa is a serious sum of money!!! (£15.4m pa for those who are challenged)! Edited to add: and that is just the base cost. No doubt, there will be other costs to push up that bill even further. The upside is that we should receive into the Field Army better trained soliders with fewer injuries! I look forward to it!

4. The information on recruiting problems will be available (the HCDC will have investigated and reported at some point) and I bet that the reports will be available through Hansard or the MOD Library in London. You'll have to go digging, though.

Thanks for the leads-will now begin the virtual dig-ex to find this stuff! P.s when I said soft, what I meant was lacking in mental toughness, but I agree that the playstation generation, soft trainers and lack of phyzz has meant they are also physically weaker than previous generations