The British army says it is on track to meet its annual recruitment target for only the second time in eight years amid tentative signs that the pandemic crisis has acted as a “rallying cry to serve”.
With nearly three months to go before the recruiting year ends in March, a total of 7,719 young people have signed up. That represents 78% of the numbers required, giving army chiefs confidence that the goal will be achieved.
Formally, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is not yet ready to declare that Covid-19 has helped with recruitment, but one defence source has said they believed the near-year-long crisis was among the factors persuading young people to join.
Applications often rise during periods of economic weakness, and the army offers a secure career at a time when many other employment opportunities have been curtailed. Another reason cited was the obvious need to help out around the UK in establishing Covid testing and vaccination sites. “It’s clear there is a rallying cry to serve,” the source added.
Five thousand troops and other members of the armed forces are currently deployed in locations around the UK in what the MoD described earlier this week as “the biggest homeland operation in peacetime”.
That includes 800 personnel providing coronavirus testing in Manchester, a further 420 in neighbouring Lancashire, and 390 in Kent – plus 160 planners and logistics specialists helping with fast-developing plans to supply the vaccine to sites around the country. Read from source….