Regions of Connection

With MOD spending and bases focused in select areas of the UK, other regions have less understanding of, connection to and empathy with the Armed Forces.

Although maintaining a unified national military, understanding of and connection with the Armed Forces across all the regions in the UK vary. “Different regions of the UK are more predisposed to the military than others.” In England, the South West and South East, and across Scotland, there are strong cultural and economic ties; elsewhere, this is less so. In some areas, where job opportunities are limited, signing up to the Armed Forces is considered a gateway to new and better opportunities. “The North East of England generates squaddies as a form of escape … consequently, if they go back, their communities are less receptive and less absorbing.”

Some areas have long provided a home for the Armed Forces. Consider bases in South, Central and Eastern England (e.g. Aldershot, Brize Norton, Portsmouth & Gosport), South West (Devonport, Culdrose), Scotland (Faslane, Lossiemouth, Rosyth), and Lincolnshire (Cranwell, Waddington, etc.). Although their future size might be reduced, it is likely that their relationship with the Army, Royal Navy, or RAF will continue bringing with it the increased economic benefits of an MOD presence; “The RAF and the Royal Navy are probably better at this than the Army.” Maintaining this connection is one reason why many transitioning personnel choose to remain in the area: “In the South West, there is a close connection with the Royal Navy – it is visible, the dockyards are major employers, and sailors are welcomed into the maritime communities.”

Looking ahead, and with the likelihood of fewer uniformed personnel visible to the public, lower defence-driven economic activity, fewer bases across the UK, and without an effective public engagement process, general awareness of the Armed Forces may well decline. “No one teaches our children why we have a military mechanism, its role, or how we create security. Because they don’t see it, they don’t understand it. So the connection returns to sympathy, but not empathy. People don’t see the benefit that can be brought back to the community, and perhaps into the workplace.” Inevitably, this lack of understanding will impact the future prospects of transitioning personnel.

As communities change, their ability to accommodate ex-Service personnel, particularly in the phases that come immediately after leaving Service, changes too. Under-investment in communities, rising inequalities and political division may all serve to create more challenging environments for those seeking to integrate and settle within them. This risks a more prolonged period of alienation for ex-Service personnel re- entering civilian life. It also possibly brings greater challenges during the ‘Integrating’ phase of their journey. Where today this is a time of active, and for most, positive, rebuilding of stability; in the future, the challenges associated with the ‘Confronting’ phase could be carried forward for longer into their attempts at re-integrating.

Example Implication: Without proactive local engagement and education initiatives, the Armed Forces are misunderstood, making it harder for transitioners to communicate their value both socially and professionally.






There is perhaps a lack of understanding in 'receiving' communities in the values, strengths, assets that military personnel can bring back to the community.


The army, in particular, has a history of recruiting individuals who are less well educated. These people make fine soldiers, but will the regional sources need to change going forward? Will the Army need to find a way to change how it sources its supply of soldiers?