The British Armed Forces are ineffective at recruiting, and the company responsible, Capita, has failed to meet all recruitment targets for the last five years. After a wave of controversial army recruitment ads, the armed forces are not willing to let an SAS applicant, who has been described by his interviewing officer as ‘amongst the most impressive candidates I have dealt with in my eight years at the assessment centre’, into its ranks.
The Special Forces recruit, who made a ‘truly impressive effort’, is ‘fit and robust, as well as bright and very determined.’ He ‘coped easily with everything,’ but will not be allowed to join any branch of the British Armed Forces due to a food allergy as a result of strict medical policies. Over 14,000 potential recruits were rejected from the army in 2017 over ‘medical restrictions.’
The Rt Hon. Mark Francois MP, the Ex-Minister of State for the Armed Forces, highlighted these issues when recruiting new soldiers in a report for the Prime Minister. He wrote, ‘at a time when the armed forces are crying out for new recruits, they have to cope with a medical system which appears bureaucratic and inflexible, and also which often does not demonstrate sufficient attention to individual circumstances and medical histories.’
Since October 2017, the recruit has been appealing to army officials to counter his declined application based on the fact that he has never had to use an epi-pen for his allergies - the use of which is currently listed as a bar to service.
He said, 'At 28 years old, I have eaten over 30,000 meals without any reaction. I do test positive to a particular food, but it is only in a tightly controlled skin-prick test. That’s 245,000 hours of controlling my own allergy and being alert. I not only manage my allergy, but also thrive regardless. Discipline is a core army value.'
The army medical standards, known as the ‘JSP 950,’ state that ‘army personnel need to be physically and mentally fit enough to train, serve and fight anywhere in the world.’
The recruit has provided multiple examples of evidence to support his appeal, stating that his allergies did not affect his numerous years with Cadets and the Military Intelligence Reserves - nor did they have an impact upon his past career as a Bushcraft Survival Instructor.
In addition to this, he was unaffected during his time spent Kung Fu training at a martial arts academy in China, trekking through the Indian Himalayas, training continuously in the Scottish Highlands to prepare for selection, or running a 1.5-mile fitness test in 8 minutes and 22 seconds at the assessment centre. The latter surpassed the ‘10 minutes and 30 seconds’ time limit needed to enter the Special Forces Reserves selection process.
The recruit, who describes the medical restrictions as ‘unrealistic and far too strict,’ has launched a campaign called Right To Fight at righttofight.co.uk. He wants to change the medical limitation rules across all of the British Armed Forces - the army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the RAF. He hopes that like-minded supporters and those directly affected by the medical restrictions will come forward to share their stories and support his campaign.
The recruit added: 'The Army has stated to me that I can’t join with a food allergy because they can’t guarantee my safety. This dietary discrimination seems trivial as I am volunteering for combat at the highest level.'
Discussing his plans for the campaign, he said, 'I totally believe that my personal attributes can far outweigh any doubts for clearing me for service in the world’s most professional army, and I believe there are many other potential soldiers who are in the same position as me. I would urge them to come forward today.