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Is 16 too young to join the Army?

The UK is the only country in Europe to recruit soldiers at 16. The UN committee on the rights of the child is among the organisations that have challenged the UK’s position.

In fact, would-be recruits can apply to join the British army when they are 15 years and seven months old. In the US, the minimum recruitment age is 17.

Although parental consent is required for those under the age of 18, British teenagers can sign up to fight for their country before they are legally allowed to smoke, buy alcohol or drive.

While British soldiers cannot be sent to war zones until they are 18, Child Soldiers International claim 16- and 17-year-old soldiers have a higher incidence of mental health and behavioural problems than older recruits.

The British Army has been criticised for specifically targeting young people from working-class backgrounds via social media on and around GCSE results day.

What are your views? How would you feel if your 16-year-old son, daughter or grandchild wanted to enlist? Would you support this?

Is 16 too young for the Army?

292 people have already voted, what's your opinion? Yes No

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Costezuela
2nd Nov 2018
1
Thanks for voting!
I agree with those who suggest a return to conscription - I have lived in Spain for 20 years and when I first came here Spain still had limited conscription - something like 1 in 10 young men were called up at 18 - it was considered an honour to be one of them and I know quite a few who went from being rebellious arrogant children to respectful, smart, polite young men between their first call up and first leave!!
Since Spain stopped conscription the general attitude of youngsters here has slowly declined and most older people wish conscription was re-introduced.
Barry Joe
28th Oct 2018
-1
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I will not because he is not matured enough, if he riches 18 years and above than that would be ok to support him/her.
2
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Should bring back conscription. May teach some manners and respect! Not saying all youngsters need it but there are a lot who, unfortunately, do.
DerekJ9
19th Oct 2018
2
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I joined the Royal Navy at 15, HMS Ganges one of the hardest training establishments of its day, never looked back with regret on my service to Queen and Country. Would I do it again YES.

Taught me respect to others
jkrg123
28th Sep 2018
-1
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Intead of encouraging 16 year olds to join up as cannon fodder the country would benefit far more by re-introducing proper apprenticeships in trades and skilled jobs.
VelmaR
22nd Sep 2018
0
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Because they are at the age that they do not know what they really want
leo-lady30
14th Sep 2018
3
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Yes, I joined the RAF at 17 and never looked back it taught me respect, responsibility and team leadership.
iestynlad
27th Aug 2018
2
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Bring back National Service - most youngsters these days are not fit for purpose. Army will soon lick them into shape - girls as well as boys
SissieSis
17th Aug 2018
0
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I feel 18 would be a more suitable age.
Onecott
15th Aug 2018
0
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Could be the making of some of our young people who otherwise may not be able to get a job or career
andbrown01
15th Aug 2018
0
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viking
7th Aug 2018
3
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It would cause a great strain on the NHS with new 16 year old recruits being referred back for special treatment for those who suffered traumatic stress just before being paraded in front of the barbers shop for a short back and sides, and a whisper in the ear from the RSM.
J of Kirton
6th Aug 2018
3
Thanks for voting!
I believe it depends on their early upbringing, those from a loving home would be able to cope and understand the importance of discipline, but those that have been allowed to run wild and do just as they please would find it very difficult - maybe there should be a trial time of a year before signing on for four or more years.
It is a completely different way of life but a good one.
Richard65
5th Aug 2018
2
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Yes, I joined the RAF when I was 17 and a half.

These days a person joining could get fast-tracked for promotion and certain trades require you to have an acting junior NCO rank, such as military police. One of the reasons I came out of the RAF after my 15 years was because one evening in the NAAFI, I saw a corporal who must have been around 18-years old crying because someone had punched him.

Besides, the human body is still growing at that age. The human liver takes 21-years to fully grow.
DJSwaithe
17th Aug 2018
0
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I joined at 18 and did 31 years, a great but disciplined life. You most definitely need a strong liver!!!!!!!!
moray
4th Aug 2018
2
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It would be great to see far more women willing to join the army and fight on the front line like men do. Equality demands women take their share in defending our country like so many young men have done. A good starting age for both genders is 18.
Yodama
5th Aug 2018
0
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Yes, a good idea but an old one!
Only a woman will be able to give birth to the children of men and raise them while working full time and look after the household and fight men's wars.
Sigh! A woman's work is never done.

Maybe a glance into the history books will show you that women were very much in the front line in the past...not mentioned much because the glory of war belongs to men!
Women are already fighting in the front lines, I have a friend who is a helicopter pilot and has been in the worst places in Afghanistan, she has children.
Ever hear of Boadicea?
Equality.. never happen!
moray
5th Aug 2018
1
Thanks for voting!
Yes I agree equality never happens - especially for men. I feel sorry for your one sided interpretation of life. Roll on the day we see real equality in this country. Too many vested interests will stop this happening and men and women will never agree.
Yodama
5th Aug 2018
1
Thanks for voting!
The original statement of yours that women should also join up and fight on the front line is already happening.

So true, so true ! Equality is just a word... the scales of justice have been heavily weighted in favour of the masculine, time to redress the balance.

Do you mean you would like equality for men in the aspect of giving birth and knowing cake recipes? You are most welcome!

Yep, I don't agree!
Yodama
5th Aug 2018
1
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Not getting into a slanging match on this subject!
moray
6th Aug 2018
1
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Clearly we are not going to agree. We are coming at equality from different experiences. Equality surely means both genders have the same choices. Men have been pushed into boxes from birth and don't let any man think he can step outside his box because society will quickly remind him of his role in life. I want equality where men have the freedom to choose and its accepted by society. This is way it would be great to have far more male nurses, far more females in the army on the front line, far more male primary teachers, far more female builders and so on. I include wages and pensions. Will it happen, I doubt it.
Richard65
17th Aug 2018
0
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Boadicea? Wasn't she a driver in the military?
Yodama
17th Aug 2018
0
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Yes, she drove the Romans mad, drove them until they were tyred. Yes, feeble I know.

Boadicea or Boudicca, was an angry woman beware the wrath of a woman scorned "they" say.

I copied this:
Boudicca's Army Attacks

Led by Boudicca, about 100,000 British attacked Camulodunum (now Colchester), where the Romans had their main center of rule. With Suetonius and most of the Roman forces away, she and her army attacked and the Romans were driven out.
Procurator Decianus was forced to flee. Boudicca's army burned Camulodunum to the ground; only the Roman temple was left.

Immediately Boudicca's army turned to the largest city in the British Isles, Londinium (London). Suetonius strategically abandoned the city, and Boudicca's army burned Londinium and massacred the 25,000 inhabitants who had not fled. Archaeological evidence of a layer of burned ash shows the extent of the destruction.

Next, Boudicca and her army marched on Verulamium (St. Albans), a city largely populated by Britons who had cooperated with the Romans and who were killed as the city was destroyed.

Women do have it in them to become warriors.
viking
4th Aug 2018
5
Thanks for voting!
It migt be a little difficult for the War Office to recruit the type who would respond to discipline in this day and age. There appears to be too many snowflakes and persons of non determined sex making the headlines in newspapers at the moment.
PeterY
5th Aug 2018
2
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How very, very true!
Lorraine
3rd Aug 2018
1
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One of my sons went into the Royal Navy when he was just 16. I just voted no in the survey and had forgotten about my son's age. It didn't do him any harm but I don't I think it would be too young for many as they haven't been used to doing chores for themselves.
MalcolmC18
3rd Aug 2018
2
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It could be a good career choice for some young folk, and provide direction to a good future.
AMP
3rd Aug 2018
3
Thanks for voting!
16 to 18 Army Cadets
18+ Join up
Bring back National Service
DaveJ06
3rd Aug 2018
1
Thanks for voting!
All depends on what you call joining, I joined at 15 3/4 as a boy soldier, admittedly in the 60's which took me through an apprenticeship. I feel there was no harm in this. I understood at that time front line service could not happen until you were1 18.
Maybe joining at 16 now, and the training that goes on it would take the person close to their 18th birthday then they could serve on the front line, So yes let them join at 16.
Alicia
2nd Aug 2018
1
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No, they can go to work at 16 so why not join the Army.
gel65
1st Aug 2018
0
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The voting age is 18 and should remain at 18 so why should you be able to join up at 16?
PeterY
2nd Aug 2018
2
Thanks for voting!
Those joining at 16 generally go to the Army Foundation College at Harrogate. It is a college where they continue with their education as well as basic military training. Once they leave they go onto an apprenticeship or further military training depending on whether they are joining a Corps, infantry or armoured regiment etc. It teaches discipline, respect and self awareness and confidence and depending on what branch you join sets you up for life. I went to Harrogate in 1960 as an apprentice radio technician when it was an Army Apprentice School and after the first 3 months I enjoyed every moment of my time there and subsequently in the regular army.
RussellC
1st Aug 2018
3
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I would go even further than just this vote. I say bring back conscription, It wouldn’t hurt anyone to do two years service.
DavidO4
2nd Aug 2018
0
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If they were killed in a war it would hurt them.
Weewoman49
1st Aug 2018
2
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I think that at 16 years old the brain is not mature enough to cope with extreme violence without damaging it.
I know if you listen to the adverts for the armed forces it sounds like the provisional wing of the social work dept but that is not reality.
You will see the worst that is in the world and that is not right for a child.
The indoctrination is too much for a young brain to cope with.
ChrisG45
1st Aug 2018
1
Thanks for voting!
Returning from holiday in Egypt,a young man told us his story.He lived with no future,then he joined the army ( he had spent 6 months in Canada training more training in UK done a turn in Afghanistan not in danger) he now was confident had a future his Horizons were. Lifted and we wished him well .yes it may be that certain places and classes are used but a fresh life
MarkH8
1st Aug 2018
3
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get them in there learn some discipline in them and they get to see the world for free the world as it really is
MichaelE6
1st Aug 2018
4
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I joined the RAF at 16 in 1981, and i served 30+ years, it was the making of me. I would not have experianced anything like i did had i stayed in 'civvie' street. Granted it was not all good, but life is like that no matter what you choose to do, and if any of my family or friends would ask me if i would do it again, ... in a drop of a hat.
HappyHippie
1st Aug 2018
3
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I would rather my child joined the army than a street gang, so many young people today drift into gangs because they can't find jobs so hang round the streets with mates, The forces gives young folk pride in them selves and instills discipline, not bad things to have.
ThomasL7
1st Aug 2018
4
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I joined the army at 15 did two years training with the junior leaders regiment before going into regular army.this stood me in good stead I had the choice if I wanted to leave or stay that was in 1969. I stayed for 27 years which were the best years so far.
Nellbat
1st Aug 2018
5
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Why is 16 too young to join the army. They can work in any other job at 16. They can smoke at 16. They can become low paid Apprentices at 16. They can become parents at 16. The Army will teach them skills for life, self-respect, self-control, self-motivation. They will learn Team Work, loyalty, learn about watching out for each other. Plus the many trades they can learn in the Army. If a young person wants to join the Army let them do it and good luck to them.
sunsetdove1
1st Aug 2018
2
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Young people require discipline. I believe that if they reach the age of 16 and do not want to continue further education then a 2 year stint in the armed forces would stand them In goodstead for the future. They would learn discipline, respect, responsibility and with a bit of luck, the ability to look after themselves and others.
angharad
1st Aug 2018
4
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Unfortunately we need some form of discipline in this country, thanks to the do-gooder's we are in a position that even a child as young as 4-5 is telling a teacher in school, (you can't do that, your not aloud) they are already primed before they start & those children's parent's are the one's who if called by the school over an incident say the school can sort it out, they haven't got the time or inclination to do so.
This is the reason something has to be do, these children will be running the country & voting one day (or not).
It would I hope also bring together the different cultures & make us all British.
Anne28
1st Aug 2018
3
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My 15 yr old granddaughter is applying for the army. Whilst i admit it is a worry i also admire and respect her decision and determination that she already knowswhat she wants to do as a career. Most young people today do nothave any direction so yes i am proud of her.
Mrsclikit
1st Aug 2018
2
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Our son joined with an apprenticeship at 16 in the Signals Regt and it set him up for life.
chickenmike
1st Aug 2018
4
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I joined the army when I was 15 years and 4 months old. It never did me any harm. It gave me a good grounding for the rest of my life.
ecarg
31st Jul 2018
5
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Whilst respecting the comments to date,I feel the lack of discipline that schools seem to administer has a lot to do with the wayward 16yr. olds. The brighter children head of to uni which seems to be the be all and end all now.If young adults have no hope for their future no wonder they become unruly and troublesome.The 're introduction of apprenticeships and practical college courses would enable the less academic to have something to work towards ,as would encouragement to take up volunteering learning social skills ,team working and responsibility.
Let those who want to enlist for the army but provide more options for those who don't.
DavidO4
1st Aug 2018
1
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'The lack of discipline that schools seem to administer,' Why should schools administer discipline and if it has too then there is already a problem with the people being disciplined and that has nothing to do with the school that is a problem of parenting that is then passed on to schools to deal with because parents can't be bothered. As you point out though the reason why kids want to join the army is A. there are usually low achievers and they see this as an easy option to achieve something in life or B. they are influenced by the propaganda of the 'hero' soldier and how great the British army is, perhaps if there were more opportunities for kids when they leave school to move into more creative areas we might not be so willing to let our kids fight wars and die to support the rich.
Nellbat
1st Aug 2018
3
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You are so right. They report an increase in Mental Health issues with young people joining the Army. This is mostly because for many it is the first time they have faced true discipline. They have grown up in what has become a nanny state where children can say, do and act how they want without being taught that Actions have Consequences. Army life will prepare them for anything and produce well rounded, well trained adults who can do anything they set their minds to.
ecarg
2nd Aug 2018
1
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Quite agree discipline starts at home but that relies on parents attitudes and values lazy parenting results in unruly children. Discipline at school ,respect for each other and teachers creates a better learning environment.
Why children choose to join the army has I'm sure several motivating factors and I agree more opportunities should be provided .However discipline ,respect and self respect should be in place before 16 as these values are required in all ares of life.
[deleted]
2nd Aug 2018
0
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ecarg
2nd Aug 2018
0
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Violence does not equate to disipline
[deleted]
2nd Aug 2018
0
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ecarg
2nd Aug 2018
0
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Depends on the young parent you happen to ask and how they were brought up themselves. Discipline is handed down through the family those who opt out of their responsibilities are excusing themselves by saying discipline equates to violence.
IanA
31st Jul 2018
3
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I joined the army when I was 15 in 1964. I went to a boys training unit for two years before joining "man's service". I can honestly say
the two years I spent in boys service molded my character. I served for over 26 years. It did me no harm.
Lionel
31st Jul 2018
5
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I can only agree with most comments here. Recruitment into the forces at 16 years old, I think for two years at least, would be an excellent thing for these 'free-expression' kids.

20 years ago, while the country was pulling it's pants back up after 50 years of Soviet domination, I saw this system at work.

Boys were conscripted into the Army at 18, serving a minimum of 18 months and were then on the reserve list, to be re-called periodically for a refresher and further training.

Although the Czechs hadn't a hope of defeating an invading Soviet force, they could most certainly give it a bloody none, thanks to the military and life skills instilled into youngsters. Besides these skills the Czech Army provided for a primary level trade, carpentry, stone mason, plumbing and much more.

Much of the youth I knew in Czech were already hard drinking, hard playing louts yet 18 months of rigorous full time Army training changed them beyond recognition.

They became responsible citizens, of a value to the country. patriotic and hard working.

Their military service was a life changing experience, a change for the better.

Can only commend this idea to Surfers because I know it works. But stand by for the squeals from children's rights lefties, human rights lawyers trying to get little Johnny out of conscription and many mums squawking their little people are only kids.

Britain needs a hard dose of reality. Let's get on with it!
viking
31st Jul 2018
4
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Perhaps it has passed me by, but are we talking here about joining a regiment of the line, or is it refering to the Army cadet corps, together with the Sea cadets, and Air foce cadets, all of whom have youngsters of this age.
No one can really think that this country would send 16 year olds to any war zone.
Maybe this is an example of "fake news".
Lionel
31st Jul 2018
3
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Viking, I think what is being suggested is not front line duty because these kids would be a hindrance, not a help for front line soldiers.

I believe we're here talking about basic military training, with some ferociously competitive body contact sports and much training in a life skill.

Just the military disciple would be beneficial, having to do what they're told, when they're told to and not be feral kids roaming around.
Yvonnewilkie
1st Aug 2018
2
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Under 18s have the same training as the other recruits and have access to the trades but are not sent to war zones. Also being under 18 they can leave at short notice. When my daughter was in the Royal Navy during the gulf war, the under 18s were taken off the ship in the UK before sailing they sailed to the Gulf.
Nellbat
1st Aug 2018
1
Thanks for voting!
They would not be sent on front line services until they reached 18. By this time they would have received 2 years training and moulding them into what being a soldier really means, physical training, as well as awareness of self and others, and training in specific skills that they can make use of when they leave the army. I agree about your comments about the Cadet force. Children much younger join these organisations and it is wonderful to see them learn skills that will help them grow and develop into worthy adults.
Margaret Hart
31st Jul 2018
4
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As things are at the movement most of the trouble is caused by those of 14+ and I believe if the young go in the Army or any of the .,services where they will be trained lo live an organised life and hopefully learn to be a well rounded and good member of society and be a good example to other young people although I think i’ll be pushing up daisies by then.

Many of them are in dire need of some ordinary behavioural training as they have gone through life never being told to know right from wrong or to take notice when told they can’t do something as they are used to pleasing themselves as many parents no,longer bother.
Lionel
31st Jul 2018
2
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So well said Margaret. Could disagree with anything you said.
Margaret Hart
31st Jul 2018
6
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If everyone gets there brain into gear they will realise that nobody is talking about sending 16 year olds to the front line.
It would be a new branch of the Services with the aim of bringing some sort of order back to many of our youth instead of them wandering around stabbing people, taking drugs and generally causing mayhem in this country. If parents will no longer take responsibility for bringing their children up then as a country something else must be done while we still have some form or order left. Anyone who disagrees try getting on a few buses either taking students to school or bringinG them home and then see how you feel.
Lionel
31st Jul 2018
2
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Margaret, once again, I couldn't agree more.

What I think we're talking about is a massive bolstering of the Territorial Army, a sort of civil defence force, well trained and prepared, quite unlike Dad's Army. We're talking about corporate discipline, corporate responsibility and a single viewpoint - defence of the realm.

Below Bald 123 point out Turkey, Switzerland and Israel have such civilian reserves. I know about one of these, and very effective it is too!

Margaret, at some point, whatever it takes, this nation must get away from thinking about the self and think in terms of a nation. We're a people, not individuals and it may take conscription and a war to restore some sense of this reality.
Margaret Hart
31st Jul 2018
2
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We. Are obviously thinking along the same lines LIONEL and we both have the welfare and future of the nation to consider. It would possibly give us a very well trained populace for the services or apprentices to go on into private firms. However it should definitely give this country a lot of well mannered and hopefully we’ll rounded young adults who have at least learned how to be good civilians.
Lionel
31st Jul 2018
2
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My word, that was a quick reply!

I hold to some very unpopular views for which I've been heavily censured on Surfers. But I remain convinced military service is the best option, one governments avoid because it will be unpopular among voters with teenagers.

Yet so many of these same teenagers roam the streets in feral gangs, peddling and consuming dope and living a false life on social media. Not all youngsters by any means.

We've lived in a false peace for 70 years; a peace because at first we feared a 3rd world war, then we feared a Cold War ... but now? Yet our enemies are at the gates, they're ranged against us across the Channel, they're even at our domestic borders. We need to smarten up, get lively and realise the world doesn't love Brits, it actually hates us, but it was ever so.

Today we sent 20 men to protect British shipping in the Red Sea. 20 men. What good will that do?

We absolutely must have a well trained, well disciplined militia, a civilian force of millions who will defend this green and pleasant land.

Don't want to serve? Then go home to your own country or spend 10 years in a prison camp in the Outer Hebrides.

Hard liner, yes, I suppose I am. But in my lifetime I've read widely, especially about our history. I've learned we Brits need to be prepared for anything yet right now we're not even prepared militarily to fight a moorland fire.

30 odd years ago an RSM I knew at Claro Barracks in Ripon told me we couldn't possibly defend this island. Then we had 200,000 men under arms. Today we have less than 90,000.

I'll leave the conclusions to you.
Wilf
1st Aug 2018
1
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Lionel regarding your last remark I think that we used to have a much bigger army but that was built for the possibility of hoards of Germans in WW2 or the Russians in the cold war. The politicians keep going on about danger from Russia-maybe if you are Estonia but there is no way they would or could invade Europe let alone Blighty...Did you see the state of that Aircraft carrier they had going through the English Channel about a year ago. It was a huffing puffing piece of junk!. Wars are different now and in 50 years time will probably be fought by robots with a few soldiers on "games consols"...the world keeps evolving faster than ever. Maybe one day we may ever get rid of all armies?...lets hope so!
Billythequiche
31st Jul 2018
4
Thanks for voting!
A shortish series of lessons in discipline, self respect and self reliance is absolutely a good thing. The life lessons learned, even if a military career does not happen would be invaluable. The education opportunities are more equal.
JeremyHayden
31st Jul 2018
5
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They will learn important life skills and disciplines which will form a strong foundation for the rest of their lives.

At 16 they are not ready for the front line, but will be far better prepared when they reach 18, than new, 18 year old recruits.

I agree that national service would be a huge benefit to the country as well.

They are not too young at 16!
Lionel
31st Jul 2018
2
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Couldn't agree more!
arnoldbradford
31st Jul 2018
2
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I believe that all boys/girls should do national service for at least leaving education for at least two years. this might keep some of the scum off the streets that cause trouble.
Lionel
31st Jul 2018
3
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And hopefully turn them into responsible citizens rather than feral kids operating in gangs.
Yodama
31st Jul 2018
3
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An ideal age for young men, (for that is what they are) to join up. Mainly for the chance to learn a trade discipline and camaraderie..

Not sure I would like to see them in a place like Afghanistan though. Seasoned soldiers should be front line troops, 16 year old's may be a too young.
kentrix39
31st Jul 2018
3
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Certainly not it is just what kids these days need. They learn how to take care of themselves, respect for others, the parameters that govern life, confidence to face all odds with patience in fact how to live a life to the full.

They are never deployed to theatres of operation till their eighteenth year by which time they are a great asset to any unit be it Army or Royal Marines. They will, due to early training and induction into service life probably earn promotion quicker on merit not as in civilian life by quota. This gives the service a far better structured way of live and a family feel.
Lionel
31st Jul 2018
2
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Well said Centric, I couldn't agree more.
Wilf
31st Jul 2018
3
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I think joining at 16 is positive as it can help youngsters develop a trade and for those who are not interested in school or A levels gets them out and earning money and meeting new pals. The system doesn't seem to be broken so why change it? I have just read the obituary about one of "The Few" Spitfire pilots who has just died. he was flying in the Battle of Britain aged just 18 and was a Flight Commander by 19-so young! Many of those young men grew up fast. If young people want to join the army at 16 and be ready fully trained and having learnt a trade by 18 that can only be a good thing for the army and for themselves.
Lionel
31st Jul 2018
2
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We agree yet again, Wilf.
[deleted]
31st Jul 2018
4
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Lionel
31st Jul 2018
2
Thanks for voting!
Jorid, I enjoyed the Scouts until they kicked me out for having my hand on a Guide's thigh during a local show. But I must say the background that organisation gave me has been invaluable in life.
Bald123
31st Jul 2018
5
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Not at all. The youngsters can learn a trade which is a really valuable thing at 16/17. they do not have to fight but get self respect and some discipline. If I had my way all young men at 20 would do compulsory national service at 18-20 it would knock some sense into a lot of them, learn discipline and get many of them a lot fitter. The Israelis and Turks and Swiss do it. We should reinstate it.
Lionel
31st Jul 2018
2
Thanks for voting!
Yes, these countries mostly certainly do this but what I think we're talking about here is a version of the Territorial Army, trained up and ready to serve once over a certain age, but living a civilian life until called up for war.

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contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!