Letter: Young soldiers
Tuesday 26 January 1999
The MOD has said that "young servicemen ... could leave at any time during their basic training". However, basic training, for those who join before 18 years, means a period of only five months, from the second to the sixth month of service.
Six months after signing a document which most of them do not understand, the 16-year-old soldiers are committed to full-time service at least until the age of 21 plus three months, and to Reserve obligation until the age of 40.
In 1996 Dr John Reid promised a delegation of which I was a member that, when Labour was elected and he became Minister for the Armed Forces, the recruitment contracts for under-18s would be reformed. He suggested keeping the present five-month recruit's right of discharge but giving an additional one-off chance to leave at the age of 18, with a financial bonus for those who remained.
Not only has this promise not been kept but the Government has intensified a recruitment campaign targeted at younger teenagers.
At Ease voluntary counsellor
Arts & Ents blogs
One Direction urge fans to lobby George Osborne about corporate tax avoidance
What are the best first lines in fiction?
EDL Girls: Don't Call Me Racist, BBC3 - TV review: EDL Angel gets into a right muddle
Russell Crowe's Noah banned in three Arab countries before worldwide premiere
Call The Midwife: Jessica Raine leaves in series three finale
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 Bad cattitude: Family call police after crazed and 'hostile cat with a history of violence' attacks baby before attempting to 'flee custody'
- 2 Family forced to flee home after discovering 'terrifying' nest of spiders in bananas
- 3 First Kiss: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 4 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 5 Bob Crow death: 'Admired by his members, feared by employers' - Tributes pour in for RMT union leader and 'working class hero' Bob Crow