'British Army's new soldiers aren't "woke softies" - they're as tough as ever', insists Johnny Mercer

BRITAIN’S ‘woke’ generation of soldiers are just as tough as the heroes who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, a defence minister has said.

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 7:00 am

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer has come to the defence of the latest batch of soldiers and recruits coming through training, insisting they aren’t ‘soft’.

It comes after the British Army was accused capitulating to ‘snowflakes’ after launching a new recruitment campaign promoting ‘the power of failure’.

The latest ‘Fail. Learn. Win.’ advert tells wannabe recruits failing is an essential life lesson: ‘it is only by failing, learning and growing, that soldiers can become their best’, it says.

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A soldier with the 4th Mechanised Brigade is pictured engaging the enemy during Operation Qalb in Helmand, Afghanistan.

It is part of a softer series of recruitment campaigns in recent years which have been used to attract the ‘gaming generation' into the military.

Conservative MP Sir John Hayes was among those to blast the campaign and accused the army of kowtowing to ‘snowflakes’.

‘Our armed services are one of the many things that makes people proud to be British but they must avoid embracing all of the snowflake occupations that have poisoned so many other institutions,’ he said.

But Mr Mercer, a retired army officer and Afghanistan veteran, fired back as he insisted the modern soldier was as tough as ever.

Johnny Mercer, Plymouth Moor MP and veterans minister. Picture: UK Parliament

‘I don’t think there’s a softness to it at all,’ the veterans minister told The News during an interview over Zoom.

‘Whenever the military goes on operations you operate in that environment – in Afghanistan for example, you could see the same basic qualities that our British soldiers had in Normandy and in Korea and the Falklands.’

His comments came as the military ramps up its efforts to provide more mental health support to troops.

Mr Mercer insisted the Ministry of Defence was ‘engaged in a relentless pursuit of excellence’ and that mental health and well-being had a ‘significant part to play’ in how personnel perform.

Asked if he believed whether Britain’s youth were ‘woke’ and needed a softer, less aggressive style of training to unlock their potential, Mr Mercer said: ‘I personally don’t see that or buy into it.

‘I think people are much more aware of their mental health and I think that’s a really positive thing.

‘Suicide is still the biggest killer of men under 44 so we have a long way to go to get people to understand that it’s okay to talk about these things.

‘Have we made progress? Yes and that is a good thing but we still have a long way to go.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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