Sunday, 15 February 2009

Operation Solomon: is it still wise?

The MoD is planning a summer campaign, code named Operation Solomon, which aims to exploit the Recession and draft thousands of new recruits into the UK's Armed Forces in a bid to reverse the declining numbers of recent years.
Recruitment centres across the country are already witnessing a massive increase in applicants desperate to seek a bolt hole away from the dole queue and extra staff are already having to be taken on to deal with the surge. Inquiries at recruitment centres have doubled over the last two months to 24,500 and queues are building up at the doors.

With the obvious demand that there is to get into the Services, is it necessary for the MoD to go to the expense of staging a recruitment campaign at all? Why not just sit back, tick the boxes and put the £14million recruitment budget to better use?

You also wonder whether the motives behind many of these new recruits will sustain them through basic training. It costs a lot to bring a raw recruit up to the standards expected by today's Armed Forces (particularly as these days they also have to be taught the 3Rs) and you wonder whether there will be a reasonable return on the investment involved.

Just as the Recession is driving the unemployed towards the Colours so too it must be giving those contemplating leaving the Services second thoughts. Whereas once a skilled ex-soldier could expect to walk into a higher paid job on civvie street, today that is no longer the case. And it has been the loss of experienced, fully trained service personnel which has been so debilitating for the Armed Forces.

Would it not be wiser for the MoD to redirect Operation Soloman away from drawing in large numbers of raw recruits and towards improving Service conditions to retain those who are already beginning to have cold feet about leaving?

The Express: The Army signs up recession's jobless