I am astonished at the ill-informed and prejudiced military-hating letters from your correspondents (14 December), particularly Dr Ian Davis, who obviously has not met many servicemen. I am afraid he has adopted the casual, leftwing anti-military view. As someone who started my army career as a 17-year-old soldier in 1968, when around 40% of my regiment were ex-national servicemen who had gone regular, and retired from the Territorial Army in 2008 as a major, I struggle to picture the army he bangs on about. Likewise the majority of other contributors.
One cannot compare the recruitment of junior tradesmen/women with developing-world child soldiers. Many of these fine youngsters are products of our country’s overcrowded, poorly financed state schools, ignored by Michael Gove and his lickspittle government. The army picks up the pieces, turning them into fine citizens – with many of them going on to obtain A-levels, professional qualifications and degrees.
Integrity and pride in oneself is keenly pursued by all three services. As someone who helped to run “civilian” youth clubs when stationed with airborne forces in Aldershot during the 1970s, I can only say that the youngsters who came through the door learned teamwork, motivation and a can-do ability. I refute the arguments put forward by your correspondents.
As a member of the Labour party, I have no truck with this excuse of a government. But I believe that for the sake of our young people, Gove may have hit on a good idea. Put prejudice aside and give it a chance.
Major (retd) James Allan