Dear Secretary of State

We are writing to ask you to raise the minimum age for joining the British armed forces from 16 to 18.

As veterans of every conflict in which this country has been involved since the Second World War, we are convinced that 16 and 17-year-olds are too young to be recruited and trained for war.

We have been through military training; it is a brutal form of psychological conditioning designed to fundamentally alter the way your mind works, leaving the army in control of what you value and how you react. These values and reactions are very difficult to switch off and cause all sorts of problems later on in civilian life. No other country in Europe subjects 16 year olds to this process, it’s time this country caught up

We have seen conclusive research showing how joining the army early jeopardises the wellbeing and life chances of the youngest recruits. 16-year-old soldiers are much more likely than adults to be given jobs in the frontline infantry, where they face the toughest training and also the greatest risks once they turn 18 and are sent to war. Infantrymen were six times as likely to die in Afghanistan as soldiers in the rest of the army.

Military training is no place for 16 and 17 year olds, our children should be in real education until they turn 18. Then they can decide, at the age of adult responsibility, whether or not they want to join up.

We thank you for your attention to this and look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

Veterans For Peace UK


  1. Davy Stephenson says:

    ‘When men are engaged in war and conquest the tools of science become as dangerous as a razor in the hands of a child.’


    – Young Einstein
    – First World War
    – League of Nations
    – war resistance
    – disarmament
    – against Nazism
    – exile
    – atomic bomb
    – responsibility

    See also:
    russell-einsten manifesto
    atomic bomb
    scientists responsibility
    nuclear weapons


    My pacifism is an instinctive feeling, a feeling that possesses me because the murder of men is abhorrent. My attitude is not derived from intellectual theory but is based on my deepest antipathy to every kind of cruelty and hatred.’
    ‘Science is a powerful instrument. How it is used, whether it is a blessing or a curse to mankind, depends on mankind and not on the instrument. A knife is useful, but it can also kill.’

  2. Victoria Bignell says:

    This plea is from ex-service people who know what they’re talking about.

    Education until 18 is debatable in my view, and I believe you should be able to vote from 16 (you have a valid view on matters) – but the armed forces should be just for adults who have had a little experience at life first. Even if just to appreciate how precious it is.

    1. Victoria Bignell says:

      Make it 18.

  3. christopher burns-cox says:

    Please read Mark Twain’s Prayer for War. Noone should be recruited to kill people -and regret it terribly afterwards – until s/he is at least 18. The indoctrination is immoral and evil.

  4. A war to end all wars – as they say. Never ending, until our flaccid population wakes up – literally. Well done – but you are writing to a psychopath. (See Hare)

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