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.uk



  1. Lastly, I would not discourage anyone form joining the military. It can offer many positives, as it did for me in 1987 and there are lots of careers that will not put you on the front line as also was the case for me. Military power is a tool of government used by government as a facilitator of foreign policy. If it is your will to undue a bolt, then the spanner will be the tool you use in order to bring that will into reality. As a young person, unless you are very well educated and well informed, you are not really aware of the world and how it works, I bet there were many young men serving in NI not really understanding the historical context of Irish/British history and the basis for OpBanner, I bet there are many young people who served in Iraq and Afghanistan who were equally ignorant of the history of UK and western involvement and meddling of in the Middle East and Central Asia long before oil and gas were the prime factors for modern day involvement. I did not appreciate the UK and US interests in the Mid East when I helped send out Tornado GR1 aircraft toliberateKuwatt fromIraqi aggression. You dont need to, Its an adventure, it`s what you trained to do, The video eloquently depicts the terrible things that happen to our brilliant soldiers on the battle field, that is beyond question, But our military men and women are not the only casualties either. The video does not show the real forces that send these young men into battle ad the real reasons why!

  2. Violence, war, conflict, political/religious ideology are facets of human nature that have been around since life began and always will be, more so in a world of 7 billion inhabitants all competing for influence power, dominance, land, food, water, energy and other resources necessary for individual and collective survival, and these facets of human nature are also transferable to all living organisms too.

    For me, and more so since my residency of the USA. I understand that war and conflict and the basis for them, are all beholden to an elite sect of highly influential. powerful, wealthy and unelected individuals who want to see the world as they see it which, in tern, drives foreign policy. I have just read Steven Kinzers latest bookThe Brothers, a duel biography of John Foster and Allen Dulles (US Secretary of State and CIA Director under Eisenhower) which eloquently highlights this point and reminded me of modern times and the NEOCONS in the Bushpresidency` that tool the US and the majority of the west into abhorrent new direction that, had horrendous consequences For me, it is the above that makes war, conflict and the military such a poisoned chalice of a subject today and why I oppose war . We are, with no question, dependant on oil and gas in all aspects of our lives and we could not function as we do today without it, This is also associated with military conflict in the modern age and thus we are all culpable as human beings.

  3. I was blown away (no pun intended) by this film. It was really very well put together, more so with the 1970s/80s TV ads as I remember them form these days and the way in which Action Man was portrayed. I joined the military in 1987 aged 17. I grew up in a northern English town that lacked any real prosperity and if I had not joined, with no education and a unhappy childhood, I really do not know what would have become of me. I have mixed feelings about my RAF career that lasted almost 20 years and I have not had a good career since.

    I now live in the USA and work with at risk youth who come from a similar complex background as myself but in a time where even getting a job at all, yet a alone a career, with no education is a real challenge. I work for the Youth Challenge Academy which offers at risk youth the chance to complete their high school education in 6 months with structure based around a military style doctrine. Here in the USA, youth face real challenges in finding good paying jobs that offer a career and college education is very expensive and out of reach to most working class/poor families and for many, the military offers a good chance, if they can make the grade, of a good paid job and career. This makes me feel sad for the kids as there should be more on offer to them. In the UK, too, if you are not academic, then there is little else to offer as YTS and YOP schemes and apprentices have been eliminated completely.

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