The RAF recruiting manager has quit in protest at an “effective pause” in job offers to white male recruits in favor of women and ethnic minorities, defense sources have claimed.
The senior officer has apparently handed in his resignation in recent days, fearing that such hiring restrictions, even temporary and limited, could undermine the fighting strength of the Royal Air Force (RAF), the sources said.
They said the service was trying to achieve “impossible” diversity goals.
Defense sources accused Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, the head of the RAF, of appearing willing to compromise UK security at a time of growing threats from Russia and the China aimed at important goals such as improving diversity and inclusion.
One of the defense sources noted how General Sir Patrick Sanders, the army chief, compared today’s security challenges to those in the build-up to World War II, warning that the Kingdom United is facing its “1937 moment”.
“Then you look at the head of the RAF and he’s ready to smash the operational demands of the air force just to accommodate the diversity [targets]“, said the source.
“I think he needs to be challenged by the Ministry of Defense and tell him: it’s the defense agenda, go ahead.”
The recruitment demands prompted a response from Rishi Sunak, one of two candidates vying to be Britain’s next prime minister.
A spokesperson for Sunak’s leadership campaign said, “The only thing that should matter in recruiting is your character content, not your gender or skin color.
“That the Ministry of Defense is allowing Britain’s security to be potentially endangered by a campaign for so-called ‘diversity’ is not only shameful, it is dangerous.”
An RAF spokesman disputed the allegations.
“There is no pause in Royal Air Force recruitment and no new policy regarding meeting recruitment requirements during the year,” the spokesperson said.
“Royal Air Force commanders will not shy away from the challenges we face to create a service that attracts and recruits talent from all sectors of the UK workforce.
“As with the Royal Navy and British Army, we are doing everything we can to encourage recruitment from under-represented groups and ensure we have a diverse workforce.
“The Royal Air Force has a well-deserved reputation for operational excellence which is built on the quality of all our people. We will always seek to recruit the best talent available to us.”
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But another of the defense sources insisted there had been an “effective pause” before making job offers to white male recruits.
Also responding to questions from Sky News on the matter, a Ministry of Defense spokesperson said: “Operational efficiency is of paramount importance and no one lowers standards to join the Royal Air Force. The RAF recruits for many professions and, like the rest of the armed forces, is determined to be a force that reflects the society it serves to protect.”
Neither spokesperson mentioned the resignation of the RAF recruitment manager.
The RAF does not generally comment on individuals.
“Awakening” or “Misfortune”
Successive governments have challenged the three armed forces – the RAF, Army and Royal Navy – for years to improve their diversity statistics in what has traditionally been a predominantly white male profession.
It is an objective defended by the chiefs of the defense.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the head of the armed forces, used his first public speech in office last December to emphasize the importance of fighting for greater diversity.
He said it’s not “about awakening. It’s about sadness. The sadness of too few women. The sadness of not reflecting the ethnic, religious and cognitive diversity of our nation.”
The MOD has announced its goal of increasing the rate of female recruits entering the armed forces in general to 30% by 2030, from around 12%.
The RAF – which was the first of the services to open all positions to women and which already has the highest rate of feminisation – aims to go further. He wants the Air Force’s female recruit ratio to reach 40% by the end of the decade, more than double the current level.
The goal for ethnic minorities is to reach 20% of all Air Force recruits within the same time frame, up from around 10% previously.
Yet the RAF also needs to hire enough people in the right trades to meet its “influx operational needs” – the number of new staff needed to ensure the service can perform the full range of tasks assigned to it. entrusted to help keep the United Kingdom and its allies safe.
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A challenge believed to be encountered by recruiting officers is that women and ethnic minorities generally do not seek to join certain areas of the service, such as the RAF infantry force which protects airfields. Hiring white men who can apply ensures these vital roles are filled, but at the expense of diversity numbers.
“The ambition levels for ethnic targets…are absolutely insane”
According to defense sources, senior leaders appear to prioritize diversity over operational needs.
They said the recruiting arm of the RAF had effectively been told to pause in offering jobs to white male recruits in the hope that more posts could be filled by women and ethnic minorities over the course of the year. this exercise.
“We’re all really pro-diversity and we want to see better representation across all departments but…the levels of ambition for ethnic targets…are absolutely insane,” one of the sources said.
“There is no scientific or cultural context to these particular levels of ambition.”
Another source called diversity targets “impossible”.
The pressure appears to have prompted the head of recruitment and selection – a squad captain – to tender her resignation, unwilling to carry out such a request, defense sources said.
More generally, there seems to be a growing sense of frustration within the RAF at what some personnel privately – and sometimes publicly – claim is an overly ‘woke’ program being pursued by the Chief of Staff of air to the detriment of other priorities.
Defense sources noted how under his tenure since 2019, the RAF has taken steps to be more inclusive, such as changing the term for a service member to ‘airman’ from ‘airman’, adopting gender-specific or gender-neutral pronouns . in signatures and allowing staff to grow beards.
Pilot training in crisis situations
But at the same time, the Army’s flight training system – a fundamental element of a functioning Air Force – is in crisis, as revealed by Sky News earlier this month.
Hundreds of junior pilots are waiting for slots on the courses to open or take refresher courses even though Ben Wallace, the Secretary of Defense, has given Air Chief Marshal Wigston the task of fixing the training at the piloting as his “only priority” more than two and a half years ago.
The RAF itself sparked a rare public display of internal tension last weekend.
He posted his response to Sky News reports of the “mess” of military flight training on the official Air Force Facebook page, defending the RAF’s record.
“Our people are our greatest asset and we are committed to attracting and retaining the best and brightest talent to meet current and future threats,” the message reads. He acknowledged challenges with the training pipeline, but said work was underway to improve things.
The comment elicited a number of incredulous responses from readers.
“Is this message from a parallel universe or what?” asked a respondent.
Another said: “If you want to retain you need to make a big change at all levels within the RAF. Your people are your greatest asset. Start treating them that way.”
After some more hostile teasing, the RAF quietly deleted their own post.