Armed forces applicants surge to highest number in years

Armed forces applicants surge to highest number in years

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Jack Walters

By Jack Walters

Published: 09/02/2024

- 20:41

There are concerns personnel are leaving the military faster than new recruits can enlist

Applications to join the British armed forces have surged amid rising tensions around the world, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has claimed.

Shapps revealed there had been an eight-year high in Royal Navy applications and a six-year high in those seeking to join the army.

The RAF is also experiencing a boost in interest from potential recruits.

Shapps was unable to put a number on the boost in applications.

The Army Careers office in Canterbury, Kent

The Army Careers office in Canterbury, Kent


He said: “I have some good news for him, which is we’ve seen, since we’ve been talking very actively about these issues, an eight-year high in applications to the Royal Navy, a six-year high in applications to the army and 42 per cent increase this January to last January in applications to join the Royal Air Force.”

However, it was also suggested that the recruitment drive might not be quite as successful as many hope.

It has been claimed that service personnel have been leaving at a faster rate than those enlisting.

A report released by the Commons Defence Select Committee found that the Ministry of Defence recruits only five people for every eight who leave.

Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps lauded a boost in military recruitment


Concerns about recruitment were ramped up recently amid growing tensions in the Red Sea.

Sir Alec Shelbrooke, the Conservative MP for Elmet & Rothwell, said there was “concern about the stretch” on the Royal Navy.

He told the Commons: “It is a world-class leading navy but it is suffering from personnel issues to crew the ships and I think the responsibility of this does lie back at the Treasury in being able to provide the revenue streams that are needed to make sure that capital equipment can be used most effectively.”

Much has been made about military recruitment as there is growing speculation about the need for conscription.

Welsh Guards training at the Sennybridge training area

Welsh Guards training at the Sennybridge training area


Government figures show that there were 184,860 service personnel in the UK forces in October, including volunteer reserves.

The number reflects a fall of 7,440 from the previous year.

Shapps said last month that the UK needed to be “prepared” for war and the country was “moving from a post-war to pre-war world”.

General Sir Patrick Sanders, chief of the general staff, went further by suggesting the British public should prepare to fight in a “citizen army”.

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