The Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond has asked that the British Army consider the need for it to reflect the Britain of today.
That is to say that there needs to be a recruitment of more ethnic minorities into the Army, who are currently under represented. "The British Army needs to reflect British society," he said. "This is clearly a challenge now; to recruit from the ethnic minorities within British society in proportions that reflect that society."
Hammond acknowledges the fact that the Army must be the best it can be but says that the process of recruitment needs to be examined so as to ensure it properly considers demographic trends and the recruitment needs of tomorrow. Alongside varying factors that mean less people may be applying to the Army in coming years, there is also much need for structural reform throughout, largely due to budgetary cuts.
Although there is no system in place nor any talk of one, to ensure certain amounts of minorities are recruited, there needs to be a concerted push in this direction. Black and Asian minorities in particular, are under represented at the moment. This problem is truer still in the recruitment for the Army taking place in the northern cities of England. Less than seven per cent of the Armed Forces are from ethnic minorities. This figure, low as it is, actually includes a large number of people from outside the country. This means that the number of minorities actually employed from Britain is even lower. Contrast this to the Office for National Statistics estimate that around 15 per cent of the population is non-white.
Changes need to be put in place now. The Army is aware that those falling within the age group of people they tend to employ is set to reduce over the coming years. This will give them less choice. This is coupled with the fact that as the economy improves less will be looking to the Army for work and in the next few years pulling out of Afghanistan will also lead to a drop in those applying. Forward planning is therefore key and a real assessment of the recruitment needs of tomorrow will help ensure that the right decisions are made now to ensure a working Army tomorrow.