|Issue 14 - July 1973|
|Thinking Of Joining The Forces...|
A MESSAGE TO SCHOOL LEAVERS, STUDENTS AND ALL UNEMPLOYED YOUNG PEOPLE
As a young person you are subjected to government pressure to join the armed forces. If you live in the north-east or other areas of high unemployment you will have to face special recruitment campaigns designed to exploit the pressure on you to get a training and find a job.
The areas of high unemployment are used to provide the cannon-fodder for the forces.
Before YOU take any action, here are some points and some questions you should consider. They were written by local trade unionists and ex-members of HM Forces.
The advertising campaigns for the forces show a life of beer, birds and bingo. They never mention killing - the main purpose of the forces. Why not do you think?
In the forces you may be expected to use physical violence and to kill ordinary people like yourself, your family and your friends.
Could you do this? You won't be given a chance to refuse!
You will have to learn to obey orders - any orders. If you are ordered to shoot you will have to shoot - even if it means the death of innocent women and children as has happened recently in Northern Ireland.
Could you really do this without question? Do you really know what the war in Ireland, say, is all about?
Can you really take sides and kill to orders?
Much of the equipment and many of the tactics you will be trained to use in the forces are intended for use against the people of this country when they are wanted. They will be used against so-called "trouble-makers" - trade unionists, strikers, pickets and students - people like yourself and your friends.
By joining the forces you will be helping to develop the tactics and weapons, the experimental guns and gas, which will be available for use against workers here. It has happened in the past, it is being planned again. The army chiefs, Brigadier Callvert and Brigadier Kitson, are already preaching a policy of training the armed forces to be used against strikers, students and other "troublemakers". The Tory pamphlet "In Defence of Peace" says that "The techniques of political terrorism must now be an integral part of every soldier's career".
There is a famous question asked of soldiers:
When your officers order you to shoot at your own people - in what direction will you point your rifle?
Your own people are your family and friends and the working class of this country, of Ireland, and the world. If you were asked this question what would be your answer?
Your life in the forces will be mainly one of boredom, red tape and bull. You will be bullied and browned off. There is no place to question authority. Are you prepared to be bossed around and never answer back?
And don't be conned by army propaganda about "training for a trade". Ask at the Employment Exchange how many vacancies they have for field gun mechanics or Chieftain tank drivers! And if you do get a civvy job it will cost you £150 to buy yourself out before your time's up!
Why is the government prepared to spend thousands of pounds to train a gunner or a tank driver while the training of a bricklayer or plumber is left to the chance forces of private profit?
Why can millions of pounds be spent to train missile-technicians while cancer and kidney research has to depend largely on voluntary support from charity donations?
When you look for a job make sure you demand a real job with proper training and good prospects. You cannot be forced to take just any job that's going - although pressure might be put on you to do this. It's not your fault there are no decent jobs. Don't feel guilty about it.
Remember there are alternatives to joining the forces - even if you cannot get a job:
a) You could go to the technical college and take a GCE or a technical course in engineering, electronics, commerce etc ... or study a hobby. You can draw social security while doing this provided you are prepared to take a suitable job if one turns up and you attend college for not more than 3 days a week.
b) You could go back to school. Many schools now put on special non-examination subjects and include hobbies and sport etc.
If you return to school, your parents can claim tax allowance and perhaps family allowance. Also the local authority says you can claim "maintenance allowance" - but your family will have to be near the starvation level to get this - so don't depend on it.
c) Until a suitable job turns up you could do some of the things you've always wanted to do but never had the time. You could join the trade union campaign for better job training, more apprenticeships, and more educational opportunities.
Parents will want you to do the best you can for yourself - to see that you get a good training and a job. In desperation they might be misguided to advise you to join the forces. They might tell you about the good times they had - they will have forgotten the bad times.
Ask them if they really want you to be trained to kill as a profession. Ask them if they really want you to be used in a war that you don't understand which is only in the interests of capital.
If you feel that undue pressure is being placed on you to join the forces or to take a rotten dead-end job - contact your local Trades Union Council. If you feel that you are being done out of dole or social security benefits - contact your local Claimants' Union. Their addresses are given on Graffiti page (page 23).
These organisations will help you to resist pressure and to fight back. This is where your fight is.
REMEMBER THE ARMY'S INTERESTS ARE NOT YOUR INTERESTS OR THE INTERESTS OF THE WORKING CLASS. LET THE BOSSES AND THE POLITICIANS DO THEIR OWN DIRTY WORK. THEIR LIFE IS NOT AT RISK ... YOURS WILL BE!
JOIN THE GROWING BODY OF OPINION FOR THE WITHDRAWAL OF TROOPS FROM NORTHERN IRELAND.
IF YOU ARE THINKING OF JOINING THE FORCES ... THINK AGAIN!
This article is from a leaflet of the same title published by South Shields Trades Union Council. The photographs are from Ink (RIP)