£100m 'Wasted' On Training Young Soldiers, ergo, young sailors and young airmen!

It costs twice as much for the army to train a minor compared to an adult, and they're more likely to quit, say campaign groups.

5:54am UK, Tuesday 23 April 2013

 Almost £100m is wasted every year by the Ministry of Defence in training 16 and 17-year-old army recruits, campaign groups have claimed.

The report, by


found it costs the MoD twice as much to train a 16-year-old as an 18-year-old.

The organisations added that the UK was becoming "increasingly isolated" internationally in continuing to recruit people below the age of 18 into the armed forces.

The report found it cost an estimated minimum of £88,985 to recruit and train each new soldier aged 16 to 17-and-a-half, compared with £42,818 for each adult recruit, including salary costs.

Initial training for minors lasted either 23 or 50 weeks, depending on the recruit's trade, but enlisting adults could complete the phase one course in 14 weeks.

The drop-out rate for minors was 36.6% compared with 28.3% for adults but under-18s who complete training are likely to serve for 10 years rather than the 7.6-year average for over-18s.

As a result, the report finds the taxpayer would have saved between £81.5m and £94m each year had only adults enlisted, based on recruiting for a nominal 10-year career and accounting for differing trainee drop-out rates and average career lengths.

Tory MP and former army officer Patrick Mercer said the report needed to be examined carefully.

He said: "I commanded 150 Junior Leaders in the 1980s, the majority of whom went on to be first class infantry soldiers.

"However, social conditions, financial conditions and recruiting have all changed over the last couple of decades and if it now seems that junior entry soldiers are less than cost effective, the whole issue needs to be looked at."

David Gee of ForcesWatch said: "Recruiting minors into the army is a practice from a bygone era. It's not just young recruits who pay the price for outdated MoD policies - taxpayers do too.

"And so does the army, when it finds itself undermanned on the frontline because so many minors have dropped out of training." END OF REPORT.

For those of you not in the know, the above mentioned title of "Child soldiers International and Forces Watch"  - two organisations - although related, are, for action/implementation purposes, two quite separate bodies. The Child Soldiers International bit [which of course includes the UK] has this to say about the UK


The United Kingdom is one of a group of fewer than 20 states which have a minimum voluntary recruitment age of 16 years. As such it is out of step with the prevailing trend towards a global ban on the recruitment of anyone below 18 years of age.

According to British government policy under-18s in the British armed forces are prohibited from participation in armed conflict, but this policy can be overruled if there is a “genuine” military need or if it is otherwise impracticable to withdraw minors before deployment. Its systems for tracking personnel to ensure that under-18s are not deployed has reduced, but not entirely stopped, soldiers from being inadvertently deployed to operation theatres before they turn 18, and the UK has repeatedly exposed children to the risk of participation in hostilities. By me, Godfrey Dykes: I take gross exception for being considered as "an exposed child" for before my 18th birthday in 1956, I had earned a campaign medal [the Naval GSM] with a clasp showing Cyprus, and very shortly after, I had a second clasp for Near East.

Following campaigning by Child Soldiers International and ForcesWatch, in June 2011 the government announced an amendment to existing Armed Forces regulations granting under-18s in the armed forces discharge as a right. Prior to this, discharge of "unhappy minors" was at the discretion of their commanding officer.

UN experts and various UK parliamentary bodies have on many occasions recommended that the Ministry of Defence reviews the recruitment age, with a view to raising it to 18 years, but to date no such review has been undertaken.

Our work in the UK aims to persuade the UK government to raise the age of voluntary recruitment in the British armed forces from 16 to 18 years.


Frankly, I would expect our young men [doesn't of course apply to women] to take offence at being called "children" and moreover, given the standards of British training, I find it difficult to compare say, a country like the UK with a country like Chad whose twenty year olds, never mind their sixteen year olds, are still very immature, still tribal, very unpredictable, and aware that the very people who train them and put them into uniform, are likely to stage some kind of a military coup at some stage during their careers. In Chad inter alia, a boy of sixteen joins for as much as anything else a pair of boots, regular meals, and an official rifle as opposed the thousands of weapons in Africa available to and used by militia's/rebels.  Not the same for our boys and any comparison is for the number-crunchers and not for meaningful statistics.    It is impossible to legislate what one country does vis à vis another especially when one might be a leading first-world nation and another a poverty stricken third-world nation.  However, the argument is out there in the international public domain, and people of our background should be aware of it. You will have observed that these pressure-groups have already made in roads into altering the service conditions for those already serving under the age of 18 and who knows what they will achieve in the years ahead? 

To differentiate between 'Child Soldiers International' and 'Forces Watch' which is a UK based pressure-group, open up the following file and read the first two statements; thereafter of course, read the whole file. When you have done that, return here to read the results of a Survey taken on the subject matter of age in the armed forces.



Best of luck especially to those under the age of eighteen who are serving their country in the way we Brits understand it.  Keep up your good work.