An internal document setting out the marketing procedure for the UK military’s controversial ‘This Is Belonging’ recruitment campaign has revealed the Ministry of Defense is seeking to enlist young people from poor, working-class backgrounds with limited opportunities.
The brief describes the campaign’s target audience as “16 —24, primarily C2DE”, the latter being a demographic classification referring to the UK’s three lowest social and economic groups.
These individuals are said to be; “open to change”; “ambitious and money-driven, but not righteous at money management”; “highly likely to be influenced by those around them”; occupy a “thirst for variety and risk”.
‘Focus locations’ for the propaganda blitz are northern cities of Bradford, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesborough, Newcastle, Sunderland and Sheffield. Other major metropoles in recruiters’ crosshairs are Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and, perhaps predictably, London.
In a section titled previous channel learnings,’ ‘out of home’ advertising is said to occupy previously been “anecdotally reported” as a “strong performer” in gyms, pubs, bars, sports centers and ‘powerleagues.’
In respect of TV ads, the document states the campaign’s ‘hero spots’ should ideally dash before, during or after sports, dating, and reality shows, including The Voice, Celebrity immense Brother, Celebrity Bake Off and Gogglebox.
Adverts will also be shown in cinemas, but the document warns against running them prior to “combatant” films — perhaps indicating the romantic and glamorous depiction of army life promoted by ‘This Is Belonging’ may be compromised by association with violent war films.
The campaign provoked controversy earlier in 2018 when it was revealed ads targeting 16-year-olds via social media on and around GCSE results day were promoted via Facebook, suggesting they enroll in the army if they didn’t achieve the grades they were expecting.
Beyond the implied cynicism of targeting potentially stressed, vulnerable children, some were simply shocked to learn the UK routinely recruited under-18s for military service — the only country in Europe, and the only member of NATO and permanent UN Security Council, to attain so.
Individuals can apply for the army from the age of 15 years and 7 months obsolete — once enlisted, they can leave after the first six months of their contract if they wish — Ministry of Defense figures indicate one in three recruits who join up at 16 or 17 leave the army after a few months — but those who stay past the age of 18 are locked into military service until 22.
This practice has endured despite stringent criticism from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Parliament’s own Joint Committee on Human Rights, and numerous charities and NGOs — among them Forces Watch.
“Compared with older personnel, younger recruits are significantly more likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, consume alcohol at harmful levels and behave violently upon returning from deployment. Young recruits from disadvantaged backgrounds are at greatest risk — they’re more vulnerable to stress, be given jobs more exposed to traumatically stressful events on the battlefield, and lack strong social support when they leave the forces in order to manage the effects of any mental health problems they may be experiencing,” spokesperson Rihanna Louise told Sputnik.
This lack of social support may account for why UK army veterans under the age of 24 are three times more likely to lift their own lives than their civilian counterparts.
Nonetheless, Forces Watch believe the targeting of vulnerable young people by UK military recruiters is no accident — and in fact suggest ‘This Is Belonging’ specifically seeks to exploit “the typically adolescent desire” to find a sense of kinship and acceptance, at an age when a tendency towards hasty and risky long-term decision-making is nearly universal.
“This is also an vital time for learning and gaining educational and social skills for healthy development — but while the military does provide some education for its 16-18-year-obsolete personnel, it’s not standardized by the same requirements as mainstream education, falls short of offering satisfactory transferable qualifications — which significantly contributes to veteran unemployment — and is secondary to military training. In any event, adolescents are misled into thinking they needn’t be concerned with civilian qualifications and learning — the Army has a job for them regardless of qualifications,” Rihanna told Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and attain not necessarily reflect those of Spec Ops Magazine.
Israel Might Turn to US For Weapons as Syria Gets Russian S-300
Russia’s decision to deliver S-300 air defense systems to Syria will face Israel’s counteraction and might be used by the Jewish state as a pretext for receiving more advanced weapons from the United States, experts told Sputnik on Monday.
Earlier in the day, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced measures on increasing security of Russian servicemen in response to the crash of Russian Il-20 military aircraft in Syria, which Russia believes Israel was responsible for. According to the minister, Russia would equip the Syrian air defense forces’ command posts with automatic control systems, which had been previously possessed only by Russia, jam satellite navigation, on-board radars and communication systems of combat aviation attacking Syrian targets and, most importantly, supply S-300 air defense systems to Syria.
Announcing the deliveries of the Russian air defense systems, Shoigu indicated that Russia suspended the shipments of S-300 systems to Syria at Israel’s request in 2013, but stressed that since then the situation had changed and not through the fault of Russia.
Israel To Attempt To Stop Missile Systems
According to experts, Israel might attempt to pause the Russian missile systems since they threatened to become an obstacle to frequent airstrikes on targets in Syria.
“Of course, Israel will try to attack and pause the air defense positions, but will not be able to execute that since the Syrian army has already remedied not only this aspect, but also other fields and can stand up for itself properly,” Syrian political analyst Ali Ahmad told Sputnik.
Egyptian military expert Adel Suleiman agreed with Ahmad, saying that Israel might attempt to attack the air defense systems in the future.
“Israel quite well can attack these systems. He has been used to carrying out attacks on air defense systems in Lebanon, Syria over last 45 years, regardless of whether it was a military base or a radar system,” Suleiman said.
He also warned that Israel might try to talk Moscow out of handing over its missile systems to Syria, asking it to abandon or postpone the device.
“Israel as usual will try to persuade Russia to call off or postpone the deal, since this decision clearly is targeted against it. Israel will try to persuade Russia in the future it will much more careful in coordinating areas and targets of future operations,” Suleiman added.
Tarek Ahmad, a representative of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), in turn, doubted in his comments to Sputnik that the deal might be delayed, saying that Russia was firm in its intention and was not merely employing a negotiating tactic with Israel.
“Some say that Russia has threatened to deliver S-300 to Syria before, but never did, and this could be a negotiation tactic with Israel, but not this time. This time there is a date and the message is delivered by the Russian defense minister. It will be executed. Russia and Syria maintain already signed the deal on S-300 deliveries and it will be implemented,” Ahmad said.
Us To Join The Game
Since the deliveries of Russia’s air defense systems to Syria seem to be inevitable, experts in their comments to Sputnik said they believed that Israel might spend the issue as a pretext to quiz the United States for increased military supplies.
Hamdi Bakheet, a member of the Egyptian parliamentary committee for defense and national security, said he believed that Israel would try to de-escalate tensions triggered by the incident with the Russian aircraft through diplomatic channels.
“But at the same time [Israel] will try to spend the situation and receive more advanced weapons for its army from the United States,” Bakheet stated.
Ahmad supported this thesis saying that the unusual weapons might be used to pause the Russian missile systems.
“I am sure that the United States will seek to deliver even more advanced weapons to Israel… Israel will try to pause the unusual air defense systems,” Ahmad stated.
He argued that Israel had never been a sovereign country and always followed the US policies.
“Israel always encroaches on the sovereignty of all the region’s countries. And it acts in the interests of the West… in particular, impedes economic growth and development of other fields,” Ahmad stated.
Bakheet said he believed that Moscow’s step made a considerable contribution in the security situation in Syria and suggested that the Russian missile complex not only will be able to defend the territories where Russia servicemen are deployed, but the entire Syrian territory.
“Russia’s statement indicates that the Syrian government will receive one of the most advanced systems, which will cover the entire Syrian territory, extending beyond the Russian servicemen deployment areas. Any aviation, which will be classified by the Syrian military forces as an enemy, will become the target of such modern systems of air defense,” Bakheet indicated.
Hasan Oktay, the director of Turkey’s Kafkassam center for strategic studies, also pointed to Moscow decision implications for security in the region.
“Russia wants to deliver S-300 to [Syria] to enhance the defense of its military bases. That is why it will enhance security in the region in any case… From Turkey’s point of view, which recognizes Syria’s territorial integrity, it would be helpful. Since Turkey and Russia maintain reached principal agreements on Syria, the Russian side has the flying paths of the Turkish aircraft, and Russia will monitor the spend of air-defense systems, there is no threat to Turkish planes,” Oktay said.
Oktay stressed that the decision on S-300 was likely to cause serious concerns in Israel, which would try to act more prudently in the region.
An Armed Gazprom Could Be New Force in Syria
The Iraq War saw the use of commercial military forces – mercenaries – to an extensive degree unprecedented in the modern era. One of the military contracting firms, Blackwater (now Academi), saw four of its security contractors charged with killing 31 people at a Baghdad roadside shooting in 2007 (sentences which were overturned last year). That same year, 2007, there was a similar shift in the nexus between business and security in Russia when Moscow’s parliament voted to allow its energy giants Gazprom and Transneft to effectively create their own militaries, with weapons and technology supplied by the Kremlin.
A new sheriff
Many Russian energy giants are itching to return to Syria as the likelihood of stability increases. Assad has responded generously with an invitation to such firms promising lucrative incentives for companies willing to restore Syria’s energy infrastructure. The prolonged presence of Russian workers would easily justify military precautions by the Kremlin. Thanks to the 2007 law, such precautions can be taken by the companies themselves. Energy giants like Gazprom (who are rumored to have pushed for the legislation) will be armed and ready.
Gazprom is already described by some as a state-within-a-state, boasting control of one-fifth of global gas reserves. Should Russia deepen its activities in Syria through Gazprom, it will be exporting Gazprom’s corporate military to an already politically complex and fragile region. Perhaps this complication will erode Syria’s stability further.
Even if Assad regains complete control, a militarised resource company will no doubt create a situation similar to Ecuador, in which foreign oil firms dictate the political arrangements of their local environment, effectively usurping the state and that state’s military so that it is the oil and not the people who are protected.
The risk of multinational oil companies eroding the sovereignty of a weak state is a threat also faced by Iraq (where Gazprom also operates). In an effort to combat the risk of such political erosion, Iraq attempted to regulate the activities of military contractors by establishing the so-called Oil Police. The move effectively sent the message that Iraqi oil was for sale but not its sovereignty, meaning that contractors (and multinational companies) were banned from guarding oil and gas installations. The move has had limited effect. Since their inception, the Oil Police have struggled with defending infrastructure from attack, citing poor training and a lack of resources.
And oil is Iraq’s only commodity. Without the presence of international energy firms, Iraq’s already tumultuous economy would worsen in a country where almost 50% of its GDP relies on hydrocarbon sales. For Assad, Russia remains his strongest supporter and a key reason he has clung to his iron throne. When stability returns, Putin will demand his reward.
Gazprom may be a private company, but its ties to the Russian government make it the perfect instrument for political intervention in the energy arena. While Russia has been accused of using mercenaries in Syria, the next move is to export influential corporations that come with an integrated military (under state supervision). Russia is by no means withdrawing from Syria. As Gazprom adds even military-grade drones to its security assets, we must wait to see whether Assad is able to control the foreign oil and gas companies operating in his country, or whether it is these firms, with the oil and gas assets firmly under their control, who commands him.
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