Why the New Army Jobs UK ad is problematic

The British Army has recently released a new series of Ads to appeal to minority groups such as women, homosexuals, people of colour, and Muslims. Since I don’t watch any TV, I first saw the ‘Keeping my Faith’ Ad when I went to the cinema to see Black Panther and I can say hands down that I found it distasteful. 

I wasn’t surprised that they had launched this new series of Ads to appeal to minorities groups, in fact this has been in the works for years as recruitment campaign chief Nick Carter clearly stated himself in an interview on BBC Radio 4 that a 25% drop of ‘traditional cohort [of] white, male, caucasian 16-25 years old’ has led to more efforts in trying to engage the ‘rest of society’. The campaign has received quite a backlash for ‘neglecting’ the people who are actually interested in joining the army with these ‘softer’ recruitment ads, deviating a lot from the previous action-packed campaigns that sold the army as a way to ‘travel the world’ with a bit of adventure. 

Retired Colonel Richard Kemp accused the £1.6m campaign for not doing its best to attract the right recruits because it doesn’t focus on the images of combat, adding that the Army has been forced into a ‘route of political correctness’. It didn’t surprise me in the least that he continues to say ‘what is most important is that the Army recruits and is full of soldiers. It’s of secondary importance that they reflect the composition of society.’ 

Forget the fact that this is a painstakingly obvious attempt to recuperate the steadily decreasing number of enlistees (April 2017 saw 12,950 recruits joined the regular armed forced, and a simultaneous 14,970 service personnels quitting), what is particularly problematic with the ‘Keeping my Faith’ Ad  is the underlying narrative of ‘with us’ or ‘against us’. It would be naïve to believe that this ad was crafted entirely on the notion of ‘inclusivity’. Peel back the layers and I think it becomes quite clear that this is a shrewd military move to kill two birds with one stone: get more recruits and (hopefully) stop Islamists.

The British government may define extremism as a ‘vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs’, but there’s no point in beating round the bush: a disproportionate amount of attention has been focused on Islamist extremism. Whilst in the past, Tony Blair and David Cameroon have advocated ‘eradication’ of (specifically Islamist) extremist ideologies, now it seems that the British government is taking the route of integration rather than separation. This would all be fine and well if the idea of integration was through education and didn’t essentially involve changing sides of the pitch. To say that to fight extremism means commanding the gun to be pointed elsewhere in the name of patriotism instead is, ludicrous. Only education can defeat terrorism, not a precarious attempt to transform vulnerable, isolated individuals into ‘British’ firing machine guns. If anything, this Ad will only further drive a wedge between the clear defined  lines of  ‘us’ and ‘them’. 


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