Peace activists with the INNATE network held a picket of a British army recruitment day at the Kinnegar base, Holywood, County Down on 21 May. Information leaflets were distributed to potential army recruits and others attending the event.
“New recruits to the army are often unaware of the conditions they need to meet if they decide that army life isn't for them and they want to get out. The situation isn't helped by the lack of transparency in the army's rulebooks - the Queen's Regulations for the Army and the Manual of Military Law”, said Rob Fairmichael of INNATE. “We're here to make sure that potential recruits to the British army have all the information they need to make an informed choice about whether to join up or not,” said another member of the group.
Inside, the recruitment stalls were lined in a draughty hangar on the base, with various bits of military hardware on display. Talking to some of the staff on the stalls, it was clear that they thought the army needed more recruits but that the news from Iraq didn't help their recruitment efforts.
There was no mention of the drain of soldiers from the regular army to more highly paid jobs with private security firms of mercenaries in Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflict zones. In fact, it was explained to me that one reason for the convoluted and complicated procedure for new recruits to leave the army was that it would lessen the possibility of a mass exodus from the ranks!