New Army recruitment campaign criticised for 'political correctness' and 'neglecting those most interested in joining'

The Army's new advertising campaign promoting the emotional support available to recruits has been criticised for failing to target those most interested in joining the forces.

A series of films - due to be broadcast across television, radio and digital platforms - ask "Can I be gay in the Army?" and "What if I get emotional?" in a bid to appeal to potential soldiers from different backgrounds.

But critics claim the Army is being "forced down a route of political correctness" and the £1.6 million campaign would not appeal to the right people, and ultimately solve the recruitment crisis.

"The main group of people who are interested in joining aren't worrying so much about whether they are going to be listened to or if there's an emotional issue," Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, told BBC Breakfast.

"What they are worried about more is how they are going to face combat and, not only that - they are going to be attracted by images of combat because that's why people join the armed forces."

The head of the Army, General Sir Nick Carter, said the demography of the country has changed and it needs to reach out "to a broader community".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "What this campaign is about, frankly, is a recognition that we don't have a fully manned Army at the moment, that the demography of our country has changed, and that we need to reach out to a broader community in order to man that Army with the right talent."

The campaign comes amid growing concern over recruitment to the armed forces.

In the year to April 2017, 12,950 recruits joined the regular armed forces, but 14,970 service personnel left in the same period.

Last month, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson blocked an attempt to drop its traditional "Be the Best" slogan and historic crest following criticism.