The British Army is facing accusations of racism after a photo was posted from its official Twitter account showing a soldier wearing camouflage that critics compared to “blackface”.
“Being a #soldier in the jungle requires a robust sense of humour,” the tweet read, showing a troop pulling a face while wearing dark face paint and pointing a gun.
The message was deleted minutes after it was posted on Wednesday morning amid a storm of criticism.
One critic called the tweet an “offensive mess”, while several compared the image to “blackface” and many suggested it was racist.
But many were defending the post, saying the outrage was misplaced.
“If you think camouflage is racist, please wear a hi-vis jacket next time you’re being shot at,” one message read.
The British Army frequently publishes images of soldiers in camouflage, including during a recent exercise by the Irish Guards in Belize, where the photograph was taken.
A spokesperson said: “The content of the tweet shows a picture of a soldier wearing camouflage and concealment measures, standard for jungle training in Belize.
"We can see how the tweet may have been misinterpreted, have immediately removed it and apologise for any offence it may have caused.”
The furore came as the British armed forces continue attempts to attract more black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) recruits.
Soldiers from those groups make up just 7 per cent of the UK’s regular forces, under the proportion in the wider population and short of a 10 per cent target to be reached by 2020.
In the Army, the BAME figure stands at 10 per cent but falls dramatically for the Royal Navy and RAF, at 3.5 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively.
The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter, insisted the military’s values shared “common ground” with minority communities last year, saying increasing representation was his highest priority.
“Our recruitment from the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities has been improving over the years, but it is nowhere near where it needs to be,” he added. “We have to do more.”
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