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Army preys on vulnerable teenagers with misleading new adverts

Army advert for the 2020 recruitment campaign

Army preys on vulnerable teenagers with misleading new adverts

The UK army has been accused of trying to exploit teenagers who lack self-confidence after launching their 2020 recruitment campaign. 

The army's new recruitment adverts claim that signing up can provide young people with "confidence that lasts a lifetime". 

Military recruitment campaigns have become increasingly desperate in recent years after nearly a decade of failure to meet recruitment targets. 

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) said the adverts mislead potential recruits about the realities of military life, given the widespread evidence of bullying and coercion, which are much more likely to reduce confidence.

The PPU pointed out that the Army Foundation College, where 16- and 17-year-old recruits are trained, received 50 formal allegations of abuse and ill-treatment between 2014 and 2017.

PPU Campaigns Manager Symon Hill said: "Self-confidence does not come with doing what you're told, or with killing on behalf of the powerful. Self-confidence involves forming your own views and relating to other people as equals." 

He added, "Rather than launching yet more desperate recruitment campaigns, military leaders should be asking why so few young people are willing to sign up. Unlike generals and ministers, many young people realise that global problems cannot be solved with yet more weapons. The money wasted on armed forces needs to be diverted to tackling the root causes of problems such as insecurity, poverty and climate change."

Teenage PPU members also expressed their disgust with the army's patronising new campaign.

19-year-old PPU member Jay Sutherland, from Ayrshire, described the adverts as "Another embarrassing attempt at trying to relate to youth".

He tweeted, "We need housing, climate and economic justice & solidarity - confidence will never be accomplished with the army, but by the opposite - a community built on genuine support & love."

Read the PPU's briefing: Ten Truths on Military Spending and Recruitment.