Letter: Self-sustaining Army snobbery

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is silly to deny that social elitism exists in the Army ("Major suspended after class charge", 8 August). Between the Household Division, the Cavalry and the rest of the Army the distinction is very class-orientated.

Selection for such regiments is largely based on schools attended, social status and regimental antecedents. Potential candidates are not encouraged from state schools. State school entrants are limited in their choice of regiment (although the range of choice is widening - hence the increasing number of state-educated officers).

It should not therefore come as a surprise that promotion for those restricted to the less socially elite regiments tends to be limited by function, which makes it much more difficult to reach the higher echelons of command. Not that exceptional individuals cannot progress, but the hierarchy tends to be self-perpetuating and that makes promotion more difficult for those who do not belong to, or ape, the conventional image. This problem is compounded in the Army because the reporting and promotion system is closed to the individuals concerned, and is therefore without any chance of redress.

In such an environment it is unlikely that such a thorny problem as self- sustaining snobbery within the Army is ever going to be addressed. That is, unless some foolish individual should raise the subject in public.

PHILIP WILKINSON

Coombe, Wiltshire

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