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Should the Armed Forces stop recruitment at 16 ?

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


OneFootInTheGrave Report 23 Apr 2013 12:19

The outdated practice of recruiting 16-year-olds into the Army is wasting up to £94m a year and should stop, two human rights groups have said.

David Gee, of ForcesWatch, said recruiting under-18s into the Army was, a practice from a bygone era.

On the other side of the argument, one former serviceman said that joining the armed forces as a teenager was "a good thing for young people".

Jason Hardick, from Maidenhead, Berkshire, told the BBC, It gives you self-confidence, self-discipline and a certain self-determination. You never want to fail, you always want to move forward.

He joined two weeks after his 16th birthday, and stayed for 10 years, only leaving to get married. I had a brilliant time, it's a good thing for young people to do and I was the youngest of my intake.

I personally think it is a good opportunity for young people, what do you think?


+++DetEcTive+++ Report 23 Apr 2013 12:28

Read the article earlier and got the impression that it was the cost of training them which some people see as a problem.

For some youngsters, it gives them a sense of security and confidence which they may not have experienced in their formative years.
For those reasons alone, the option should be kept.

Do they have the option to leave when they are 18 and eligible for active service?

♥†۩ Carol   Paine ۩†♥

♥†۩ Carol Paine ۩†♥ Report 23 Apr 2013 13:02

As school leaving age rules are raised this will be a possibility together with other work training or further education.


Porkie_Pie Report 23 Apr 2013 13:05

Soldiers today don't sign on as in days gone by, once their initial term think it's 2 or 3 years has expired they are on what's called open engagement (12 months each time) so can give notice at any time.

They should never have ended Boy service, "Junior leaders" where they continued their education in a disciplined environment whilst learning military skills and about life



Porkie_Pie Report 23 Apr 2013 13:19

If its a waste of money to have 16 year olds in the Army and is "wasting up to £94m a year" and should stop then you could argue that the money spent on the Cadet forces is also wasted so do we get rid of Cadets also

Cadet forces are sponsored by the armed forces and they also have separate assets Offices/camp accommodation and the adult cadet staff are paid a similar daily rate of pay to that of the regular soldiers

Where does it stop?

personally if it helps the youth of today i say keep it


The youth of today are the future


BarneyKent Report 23 Apr 2013 13:23

No Way should it end !!!! Keep the age 16 entry. My Grandson went to Harrogate Army Training School when he was 16. It was the making of him. He then did six years in the Regular Army, came out and got a job with a Telecommunications firm. He is now has his own home and a family. Harrogate was the best thing that happened to him.


BarneyKent Report 23 Apr 2013 13:24



Human Rights Groups suck - big time.


OneFootInTheGrave Report 23 Apr 2013 13:49

Looking at some of the problems young people are facing these days, I think that anything which gives them opportunities and a purpose in life, is a good thing, and I think joining the armed forces offers them this. If they decide it is not the life for them, I don't think it is to difficult for them to leave.

It used to be, I may be wrong, that if you enlisted under the age of 18, your contract lasted until the day before your 22nd birthday. Once you had enlisted you had to serve 28 days in training, and after those 28 days you could apply, in writing, to your commanding officer to leave and you then had six months to let your commanding officer know your decision.


PatinCyprus Report 23 Apr 2013 14:20

Could this report be based on inaccurate information?

Relating the report to what I know of 16 year olds in the armed forces when I was in the WRAF - I wonder if they realise that the training for 16 year olds is based in education.

My husband was an electronics technician in the RAF for almost 25 years. He joined at 16 and spent the first 3 years as an apprentice learning his trade. Yes he was in the RAF and learning the discipline etc. but he was also very thoroughly learning his trade. 1 of his jobs later was helping the science museum set up their first computer section. When he left he had 3 civvy firms fighting for him because of his knowledge, a friend of his walked into a job advertised for graduates, it was between him and about a dozen graduates. That's the quality of the training.

The cost of this is high, the over 18s learnt this trade in far less time but in far less depth so they didn't have the same pay scale and rank advancement as my husband. The Army also had technical apprentices.

If the same exists today then the figures are screwed because they don't understand the depth of training given to the youngsters.


OneFootInTheGrave Report 23 Apr 2013 14:40

PatinCyprus - that is an excellent contribution


PatinCyprus Report 23 Apr 2013 14:51



Porkie_Pie Report 23 Apr 2013 14:57

OFITG, all recruits still have the opportunity to leave in the first part of training thinks it the around the 3 month period, training is in two parts the first is the BullSh*t part basic training housekeeping such as how to keep clean, wash and ironing kit and bulling boots plus the discipline through Drill with lessons on other basic soldiering skills because no matter what part of the Army your going for your still a soldier first

Part two training is trade specific,

I also thought that you had to now be over 17 before you could join the Regular Army and the TA, that was the case in the 1990's when my son enlisted


OneFootInTheGrave Report 23 Apr 2013 15:17

Thanks Roy, I think the regulations on enlistment were changed in 2006 and again in 2008, and no doubt they have been tinkered with several times since then.


Ron2 Report 23 Apr 2013 22:58

I joined (Sappers) Boys Service January 1956 at age of 15 - much better than continuing to live in a mining village in Black Country and stayed for 16 years. Made many good friends and still in touch with a lot of them. It would be silly to end recruiting at age of 16. We young uns were regarded as future SNCOs/WOs of the Corps. 'Boys' later became "Junior Leaders" and they were known as "FREDS" = Future Royal Engineers Disasters".


Ron2 Report 23 Apr 2013 22:59

Staffy Knot - couldn't agree more


Barry_ Report 24 Apr 2013 01:14

I wonder if the article would have been written if there was no minimum age a soldier could be sent to war? No money wasted then on (un)soldiers who could be sent regardless their young age. Is this another ploy to bring UK ‘into line’ with EU once more - or really to save money?

I was 15 when I became a Boy Entrant and with my flight of chums we received 18 months training. From the get-go we had impressed upon us “Use your initiative!” Where to buy that on a quid a week? (What the heck is it, anyway, we wondered?)

Over the decades I have expanded upon this advice and I say “Use your initiative, good judgement, and common sense.”

I said this to my apartment manager recently when chatting and she almost exploded replying “But no one’s got any common sense these days!”

I replied that’s because no one has texted their cell phone to tell them to use their common sense. In this electronic world so many (mostly younger) folk cannot think for themselves, sad to say!

When I ‘passed out’ from training and into man’s service I still had to be addressed as Boy Entrant until I became 17 ½ almost four months later. I was not allowed to sew onto my uniform my badge of rank until then. 17 ½ did, however, allow one to start on the ladder if ‘recommended’ for the next higher rank. It was (at that time, I have no idea today) the age of 18 when a military person’s service engagement began. It also counted toward a pension if the engagement was for 22 years or greater.

Some time ago my picture here showed me - under 17 ½ - with my service rifle and a big cup I won within weeks of passing out. My rank was engraved (unfortunately) as Boy Entrant on the individual name plate for 1962.

Money comes into play for everything - it always has and it always will! It may cost MOD x pounds to train a younger person but that money comes from the taxpayer in the first place. If these youngsters do not go into the military - always by their own choice if they have the opportunity as no one HAS to join these days - will a number of them remaining in 'civvy street' become delinquent and cost the taxpayer more money keeping them in custody / jail etc for a long time? Many surely will. The pounds to keep them comes from another purse within the Treasury!

What happened to good parenting to show responsibility today? Look how many kids can barely read or write after they leave school and also have no respect for anyone. How much did their ten years at school cost the taxpayer - and for what, in many cases?

While joining the military certainly is not meant to be the answer to today’s problems it certainly gives these youngsters the opportunity to learn many things about themselves, to learn a trade, and hopefully to lead a good honest life. In return they will contribute meaningfully to their country. Not so bad a trade-off, methinks!
Better than those who immigrate to a country and expect to be kept by its good citizens who cannot do anything to change this idle and ungrateful attitude of the newly cared for 'citizens'!

BTW, very good comment by Roy, Pat, and OFItG.
(Jus’ thinking. Aren’t we missing a contributor to this thread?)


OneFootInTheGrave Report 24 Apr 2013 07:20

Barry, this comment you made sums up my view:-

"While joining the military certainly is not meant to be the answer to today’s problems it certainly gives these youngsters the opportunity to learn many things about themselves, to learn a trade, and hopefully to lead a good honest life. In return they will contribute meaningfully to their country. Not so bad a trade-off, methinks"

As to your question - Aren’t we missing a contributor to this thread - shhhhhh, don't tempt fate ;-)


Dermot Report 24 Apr 2013 07:53

Apparently, more American soldiers in Afghanistan died from suicide than in combat. And the war continues.


Porkie_Pie Report 24 Apr 2013 08:12

Dermot, I fail to see the relevance of American soldiers committing suicide and this thread,

We are not Americans and we do things a different way to them

When did we last have mass murder as our US cousins have from within?


Barry, Good post as OFITG said sums up my views also


Dermot Report 24 Apr 2013 09:54

Hungerford in 1987.

Monkseaton - 1989.

Dunblane in 1996 is the one I remember most.

Cumbria - 2010.