Military life still an attractive option to the young - even in wartime
Britain’s military face mounting losses in action, yet Birmingham’s army recruitment centre continues to exceed its yearly quota of “new blood”. Reporter Paul Bradley finds out why.
Deep in the Wiltshire countryside a violent and bloody war is being fought.
Turkish troops are laying siege to a British base where the last few brave Birmingham Fusiliers are fighting for their lives.
Meticulously and methodically the Turks smoke out the remaining UK troops, crashing through the buildings in teams of four. When their mission is completed the First Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers are left to contemplate their fate.
The dead soldiers get to their feet, dust themselves down and give the Turkish fighters a well earned pat on the back.
The exercise at the Ministry of Defence’s military training centre on the Salisbury Plains has been a success and the Turkish conscripts have learnt how to clear enemy compounds.
This is the exciting and adventurous face of the military that attracts around 15,000 new recruits every year.
The Birmingham army recruitment office alone drafted in 844 new soldiers last year –14 more than their quota.
So what is it that makes young men and women sign up when the army is suffering catastrophic casualties and fatalities?
Major Bob Bath, who runs the recruitment drive in Birmingham, believes the army still offers the perks to balance out the threat of death and injury on the battlefield.
Maj Bath said: “We have around 40 people every week who apply for the army. They are very clear that they will be required to go on operations when they are fully trained.
“But that doesn’t seem to bother the majority of them.
“I think many of them have the rationale that maybe it won’t happen to them.
“They are detached, the conflict in Afghanistan is a long way away, it is something that they watch on television.
“In fact it is often the parents who are most concerned and we spend a lot of time laying out the facts, answering questions and generally being as honest and clear as we can.”
“The package we offer is still very appealing,” he insisted.
“People are attracted to the adventure, the respect they get from being a soldier, the job security and the pay. They know the training can set them up for life.”
The sales pitch is impressive but recruits will have to weigh up the less attractive side of the equation before they sign themselves up for 12 years, with a minimum of four years service.
Just like the 413 British servicemen killed in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, and the 1,200 wounded in action, they must consider the threat to their lives. In theory, a new recruit could be deployed to Afghanistan within a year of signing on the dotted line.