Where is the pressure for the Armed Forces to invest so much time and effort in “diversity and inclusion” coming from? There is not a public demand for this to happen: most people want our servicemen and women to be recruited and trained properly to defend the country from its enemies.
Yet the Services are increasingly in thrall to the same new ideological doctrines that have taken a grip on the public and corporate sectors. The Army is expected to have a “diversity practitioner” for every 100 soldiers. Unit commanding officers are also assigned a series of diversity-related tasks to report on the “lived experience of personnel in their unit”.
Any relaxation of the security vetting procedures for overseas applicants is, as a group of senior officers has put it, “dangerous madness” in a world where Islamism and other extremism are rampant. The only people who benefit from a narrow obsession with diversity are this country’s enemies.
Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, said an extremist identity culture had infiltrated the Army, though the Royal Navy and RAF are similarly affected. How has this been allowed to happen? Mr Shapps has held talks with military chiefs about the issue and has launched a review of diversity and inclusion policies in his department.
But there are too many reviews that don’t result in action. Woke ideology is so deeply embedded that those charged with turning back the tide fail to see where the issues are, or can be too scared to say so for fear of being denounced.
One problem the diversity drive is supposed to address is the poor recruitment record in the Armed Forces. But this is largely caused by the removal over the years of the traditional high-street recruitment centres and their replacement with an outsourced online system run by Capita, which many feel is not up to the task.
The whole approach threatens to put people off seeking to join the Armed Forces in the first place, especially if divisive new policies damage the esprit de corps essential to a well-functioning military.
If Mr Shapps wants to “stop time and resources being squandered to promote a political agenda”, he could do something practical like restore the time-honoured method of recruiting for the Armed Forces.
“It is time for a proper shake-up, designed to refocus the military on its core mission – being a lethal fighting force,” he said. We agree.