Army's black and Asian recruitment drive turns to Kitchener for a role model

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The Independent Online
The Army yesterday unveiled its plan to re-use one of the most radical and successful advertising campaigns of all time to overcome its reputation for racial discrimination.

The enduring image of Lord Kitchener, pointing from a poster with the legend "Your Country Needs You", has been commandeered for an ethnic recruitment drive, which aims to increase by seven-fold the numbers of black and Asian soldiers.

In place of Kitchener, the face of Ghanaian-born Captain "Fiddles" Dalton, looks out at would-be new recruits. A separate poster, designed to attract more Asian troops, features Warrant Officer Ashok Kumar Chauhan.

Both soldiers are members of the Army's ethnic minorities recruitment team, which has been set up amid concerns that only 1.04 per cent of military personnel come from ethnic minorities compared to 5 per cent in the civil service.

The new equal opportunities directive was announced yesterday by General Sir Roger Wheeler, Chief of the General Staff. "There is still a perception in the ethnic communities that the Army is a racist organisation," he said.

"But we now have a long-term programme to improve representation of ethnic minorities and to make sure that everyone in my Army understands that discrimination of any sort is not acceptable." The campaign, devised by Saatchi and Saatchi has the backing of the Commission for Racial Equality, whose senior commissioner, Bob Purkiss, said: "I saw a black captain, Paul Ince, leading his troops to victory in Italy. There are many more in our society like him. They just need the opportunity."

The Army has been attacked in the past for ingrained racist attitudes and behaviour, particularly in the more elite units.

The Kitchener poster was first used to recruit 100,000 new troops after the disastrous British casualty rates suffered in the early months of the First World War.

Ian Burrell