The Army’s “Policy, Guidance and Instructions on Inclusive Behaviours”, published in June 2022, states that “Acts of Remembrance, on Armistice Day and others, should be inclusive and seek to avoid being conducted as a wholly religious event”.
The guidance continues: “Acts of Remembrance should be agnostic of religious elements and separated from Remembrance Services. This may be achieved by holding a religious service after the Act of Remembrance.”
Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, is said to be “furious” about the policy, with a source close to him telling The Telegraph: “The Secretary of State is Jewish and he’s not offended one bit by Christian remembrance services – in fact, he believes it’s at the core of our nation’s history and who we are.”
Twelve former senior servicemen have written to Mr Shapps, describing the policy as “a particular insult to our ancestors who fought and died to lead the world in ending slavery” and stressed that Britain’s “civic culture on 11th November is sacred, Christian, tolerant and inclusive on our terms”.
The letter, signed by senior military figures including Major General Julian Thompson, Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott and Lieutenant General Sir Henry Beverly, continued: “No one should need to be reminded that this is a welcoming, inclusive and basically Christian country.”
An investigation by The Telegraph has laid bare the Ministry of Defence’s extensive diversity policies.
Official Army plans argue that diversity is crucial for operational effectiveness, and insist that “diverse teams, if well led by inclusive leaders, perform better”.
Last month, the Head of the British Army made shockwaves when he warned that Britain must prepare for conflict “as the pre-war generation”.
However, in the open letter, the former flag officers warned that the military is being forced into a “moral disarmament” due to “the lunacy of pushing woke ideas”.
General Sir Richard Barrons, commander of the Joint Forces Command between 2013 and 2016, told The Telegraph: “The purpose of the army is to fight and win, and that requires some, but not many, operational differences from organisations in civil society.”
Sir Richard continued: “The Armed Forces must reflect the population they defend, and be inclusive of everyone, including its current personnel.”
“In recruiting you cannot convey the impression that you only want ethnic minorities or women to serve. Everyone, including white men, should feel welcome in the Army.”
All military personnel, including civil servants in the MoD, are told to complete mandatory diversity and inclusion training annually.
The Army’s Inclusive Behaviours policy states that part of this training should include lessons on “unconscious bias”, a controversial and contested concept which holds that everyone has hidden prejudices that must be overcome.
The training was banned by ministers in the Civil Service in December 2020, who said that evidence shows “such training has no sustained impact on behaviour and may even be counter-productive”, and other public bodies were encouraged to follow suit.
However, the Army’s Race Action Plan, published in March 2023, refers to unconscious bias in its Elephant In The Room (EITR) training course for soldiers.
The plan states that EITR workshops should “unearth and interrupt unconscious (and conscious) biases”, “raise awareness of and discuss the issues e.g. race/identity, power and privilege” and “educate about micro-aggressions/micro-inequalities (day-to-day exchanges that transmit a sense of subordination) and how to reduce/tackle them”.
On January 30, 2024, the MoD posted an internal blog post for staff on the subject of “micro-behaviours”, defined as “small, and may be behavioural, intentional or unintentional unconscious things people say or do”.
The post warned military personnel against microaggressions, such as “asking a person ‘where they are really from’ or repeatedly misusing someone’s pronoun by referring to someone as a ‘he’ or ‘she’.”
The Royal Navy’s Race Action Plan, enacted in November 2023, pledges to update the Navy’s “mandatory D&I training course… with the inclusion of additional content covering Culture, Race and Intersectionality”, and encourages “all staff engagement in EM [ethnic minority] related events”, including Black History Month.
“But the Defence Secretary is genuinely furious about this woke nonsense and he’s determined it is routed out on his watch.”
Gender neutral ranks
The Army advises personnel to introduce their pronouns, offering the following examples: “Hello, my name is Sgt Smith and my pronouns are she/hers”, or “Hi, I’m Capt Harris, my pronouns are they/them”.
The Army’s Inclusive Behaviours guidance states that “all new Army policies and services must, where possible, use inclusive language”. Military officials argue that such policies are vital for moral, legal and operational reasons.
The Army guidance encourages personnel to include their pronouns in their email signatures to be inclusive of “people who may not conform to gender stereotypes, transgender and non-binary colleagues”.
An Army source, who asked not to be named, said: “The only time I saw a senior instructor lose their cool was when someone used the term ‘rifleman’ at which point they were berated, the instructor shouting at them that they’d better get with the program if they wanted to be a ‘professional f—ing officer’ in the British Army, in the least professional outburst possible.”
He continued: “On another occasion, we were lectured by a senior officer about the importance of not saying things like ‘manpower’, ‘rifleman’, ‘manning’ etc. Amusingly a more junior officer, evidently just trying to go with the flow, mentioned something similar later on, then quite unconsciously proceeded to use one of those terms repeatedly.”
In December 2021, the Royal Air Force transitioned to the use of “gender-neutral ranks and language”, scrapping the use of “airmen” and “airwomen” in favour of “aviator”.
In October 2023, the RAF’s Gender Network, a group for aviators to discuss gender, published a blog on the MoD intranet, accessible to all serving personnel, for “International Pronouns Day”.
The post told airmen and women “it can be offensive or harassing to guess at someone’s pronouns” and pointed to examples of “neopronouns” including “xe/xir/xirs, ze/zir/zirs and fae/faer/faers”.
The Royal Navy’s official guidance on pronouns, released in May 2023, tells sailors to “avoid using gender when referring to a person generically”, encourages them “to routinely share” their pronouns and urges them to avoid saying “Good morning, guys” [and to] replace this with “Good morning, everyone/team”.
The Armed Forces gender neutral drive has led to questions from soldiers; in June 2021, one asked on the MoD’s intranet site where personnel can ask questions of those in higher ranks. “What is a suitable and respectful gender-neutral alternative to Sir or Ma’am?”
An officer replied that while “there’s no specific winner in the debate” there are options including “Mx”, using military titles, or terms from Japanese martial arts “like ‘sensei’ and ‘senpai’ [which] are gender-neutral”.
Official Army Inclusive Behaviours guidance on non-binary personnel, defined as “people whose gender identities do not fit into the gender binary of male and female” gives commanders examples of how to “manage non-binary individuals sympathetically without adversely impacting on operational effectiveness”.
Commanders are also told to use gender-neutral pronouns when referring to non-binary servicepeople.
An Army briefing note from October 2022 states that “Every sub-unit [a group of around 100 soldiers] is mandated to have at least one qualified Diversity and Inclusion Practitioner”.
Diversity practitioners are serving members of the military who provide support to their unit on diversity-related matters, including training and reports of bullying and harassment.
The Army’s Inclusive Behaviours policy states that Unit Commanding Officers, who are responsible for roughly 600-700 personnel, are also assigned a series of diversity-related tasks including appointing diversity advisors and practitioners to units and providing diversity boards, training, reviews, inspections and assessments to report on the “lived experience of personnel in their unit”.
Commanders must also display a public diversity and inclusion “policy statement which outlines the law, Army policy, their personal commitment and the responsibilities of all unit personnel in creating an inclusive culture and climate”.
The officer continued: “I welcome and encourage you to challenge me when, for any reason, you believe my intent is not being met by myself or anyone else onboard.”
Another poster on display in an army barracks, and seen by The Telegraph, lists the unit’s six diversity advisors.
Posters promoting diversity and inclusion have become commonplace across the sites used by all three forces.
The Compass Network, a group for LGBT sailors described on its website as the Royal Navy Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression Network, displayed one poster defining 51 of the “most commonly used” terms around LGBT issues.
Among these are “LGBPTTQQIIAA+”, defined as “any combination of letters attempting to represent all the identities of the queer community, this near-exhaustive one (but not exhaustive) represents Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Intergender, Asexual, Ally.”
Other terms defined include “cross-dressing”, “bi-gender”, “poly gender”, “drag queen” and “faggot” which is accompanied by the message “HEAR IT, STOP IT”.
Other Royal Navy diversity posters ask sailors “Are you an ally?” in reference to minority groups, display a group of swimmers under different headlines to explain “sexual orientation and gender identity”, and a poster from November 2021 asks personnel to fill out a questionnaire for the controversial LGBT charity Stonewall.
There has been a significant focus on recruiting ethnic minority people into the Armed Forces in recent years, both to improve ethnic minority representation and to engage with different communities to combat a forces-wide recruitment crisis.
The Army’s equivalent plan mandates “increased EM prominence in all marketing” and the exploitation of “the targeting of cultural, behavioural, structural and policy barriers to EM serving in the Army (e.g. dress, hair and beards)”.
A Royal Navy recruiter, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said these recruitment drives were doomed to fail: “As a recruiter, I have always taken great joy and pride in inspiring young people about the Armed forces, no matter their background. However, that job sadly becomes a little more difficult with the disproportionate focus on the race of recruits, rather than how much we can inspire people regardless of their ethnicity.”
They continued: “Most people who join the forces do so because they want to serve their country, follow the tradition of their family or their hometown, and want to take on the challenge of serving. They are not thinking about diversity initiatives, lived experience or their pronouns.”
‘White privilege’ backlash
The MoD’s push for diversity and inclusion has not gone unchallenged among military personnel.
Civil servants and military personnel can question their seniors through the Defence Connect intranet forum.
In February 2022, a questioner wrote: “Sir, sadly I’ve already had to report racist content among the resources… [on] ‘White Privilege’ (the title alone is unacceptable) containing an error-strewn, racist critique of cinematic coverage of the transatlantic slave trade, advocating the apportioning of collective guilt to one ethnicity.”
One officer responded by saying white privilege is offensive, and wrote: “We may stifle recognition of the white privilege that may lurk in the every day – and therefore perpetuate the damage this causes in our (or any other) organisation.”
Another officer agreed, and urged personnel to read the controversial book, Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race.
However, several junior personnel fought back, with one saying: “There is only one race, called the ‘human race’… As a Christian and a commonwealth soldier myself, I believe that every human being is created in the image of God and we should be treating every human being with respect and dignity.”
Another wrote: “Thank you for calling out postmodern racism” and compared white privilege to Marxism “which also visualised an oppressed and oppressor dynamic as the fundamental ordering of human society, except now it is based on race, gender, sexuality, and politics”.
The MoD was approached for comment.
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