In the run up to Armed Forces Day a video exposing the brutal potential outcomes of armed service has become a viral hit online.
Action Man: Battlefield Casualties, a Veterans For Peace UK film has been viewed over 300,000 times in just 36 hours. The series of dark, satirical adverts showing three toy soldiers complete with anti-depressants, wheelchairs and bodybags has received wide praise from veterans and civilians alike, who have commented on its brutal honesty.
The film, written by artist Darren Cullen and directed by Price James, has been released this week to counter Armed Forces Day, a marketing push by the Ministry of Defence focused on children and their parents. Cullen said “Armed Forces Day is designed to capture the imagination of children, with face painting, marches and military vehicles. But the flag waving and grinning photo opportunities conceal the brutal possible outcomes of military service. Our film is intended to counter the recruitment propaganda of Armed Forces Day”.
The former head of the Army’s recruitment strategy Colonel David Allfrey has said that, “Our new model is about raising awareness, and that takes a ten-year span. It starts with a seven-year-old boy seeing a parachutist at an air-show and thinking, “That looks great” From then the army is trying to build interest by drip, drip, drip.”
Veterans For Peace UK are using the film to build support for the campaign to raise the recruitment age of the British Army. “The UK is one of only nineteen countries worldwide still recruiting 16 year olds into the Army” said John Boulton, who joined the army at 16 and went on to serve in Afghanistan. “The UK stands alongside Iran and North Korea in continuing to recruit children into its armed forces. We want to put pressure on the government to bring UK recruitment policy into line with the rest of the world.”
The Army website states “If you’re under 18, you’ll need parental consent to join”, but Kieran Devlin, who joined the British Army at 15 and served in the Gulf War said, “The recruitment adverts conceal the deadly possibilities of military service from children and their parents. It is official Army policy to funnel the youngest recruits into the most dangerous jobs. Those enlisting on their sixteenth birthday can only join combat arms such as the infantry. Those who enlisted at 16 and completed training were twice as likely to be killed in Afghanistan as those who joined at 18 or over.”
The Army has repeatedly claimed that it doesn’t recruit in schools but their own document Engagement with UK Schools states that their overall rationale for engaging with schools is to “provide an environment which raises awareness of the MoD and Armed Forces among young people and to enable recruiters to access the school environments.” While Colonel Allfrey has boasted that “army careers advisers who operate in schools are skilled salesmen.”
Veterans For Peace are calling for the recruitment age in the UK to be raised to 18 in line with most countries worldwide. The video as well as details about the campaign are on their website: www.battlefieldcasualties.co.