Alright, time to get anal on the Army brochure. On the first page (in addition to the oh so cool opening sentence) the following gem can be found: You’ll find us under Army in the phone book. I sure hope they don’t hire the guys who needed to be told that.

Under the heading A force for good, you’re informed that There’ll be opportunity to see new countries and try new sports. Call me simple-minded, but if I wanted to try new sports, the first thing in my mind might not be the recruitment office. Later on those queasy at the prospect of overt learning are told that don’t worry, it won’t be like going back to school.

Then it’s contradiction time. Page 6 boasts the claims You’ll find that the Army is a full-time commitment but that It’s a time when you’ll […] have the freedom […] to make most of them all. And from contradictions to assurances: Once you’ve learned [to scuba dive, ski, parachute or climb] there’ll be nothing to stop you enjoying them whenever you can. So they won’t be brainwashing you on the way out after all. That’s a relief. Oh, and in case you hadn’t noticed, The world is a very big place.

More tongue twisters are on their way soon enough. On page 9 you’re told that If you want to push yourself to your physical and mental limits – and beyond. Talk about transgression. For some reason, the name ”Muranen” springs to mind. I’m quite sure he passed some limits, both mental and legal.

On to boasting. The Royal Artillery is the largest single regiment in the Army… […] and it’s also the loudest. Also note that We never leave anything to chance. I guess that’s left for the Americans then. Then there’s the mention that recently they’ve [Light Infantry] applied their skills to operations in Northern Ireland. Now there’s a merit to be proud of.

In case your wardrobe is running on empty, consider the fact that Units deployed as mountain infantry will be issued with […] the Army’s special all-white camouflage gear. Or then you could just be a failed med student with a uniform fetish.

From page 18 onwards the brochure boasts some pretty impressive success stories. How about private Chris Wainwright, who says I worked for a fast food chain. I wanted more from life. So naturally he joined the Army. Or what about lance corporal Tony Brocklesby, who’s qualified to lead eight men but still was pleased to be selected to qualify as a sniper. I’m sure sniping asks for a lot of leadership skills in situations that most civilians could never envisage.

Lance bombardier Kenny Brett has gotten some insights into life. I was deployed to Kosovo […] Experiences like that are a real eye-opener and show you just how lucky you are. I must agree. After all, carrying a 105mm gun in a country torn apart by ethnic cleansing, rape and all-around jolly destruction, you really start to feel like a lottery winner.

And the Army isn’t just for boys, no. Exhibit A is gunner Natalie Mehuet who became a Gunner because I can’t stand boredom. Once again, nothing cheers one up like toting an AS90 with a 92lb shell. For she does know that Live firing is the best and controlling a weapon as sophisticated and powerful as the AS90 feels fantastic. I’m sure Mr. Freud might have something poignant to say here.

For all you potential globetrotters out there, take note that since joining up I’ve been to places […] my old friends back in Devon can only dream of. The travel opportunities are unbeatable. So far, I’ve been to Cyprus, Venezuela, Norway and so on, says sergeant Darren Wight.

Maybe you’ve been abusing yourself too much lately and are really in need of some quality lovin’ from the opposite sex? Then look no further. Take it from corporal David Phillips, who knows that FHM magazine listed the top 10 jobs lads pretend to have when they’re trying to impress someone. Tank Commander came second – above professional footballer – and I really am one. Apparently it’s pussy galore in the Army.

The last few pages of the magazine are devoted to Frequently Asked Questions. But first the potential enlistees are told that the Army assessment test can help you find out [your right career]. Don’t worry, it’s not like an exam […] the assessment is designed to give us an idea of your potential. An assessment that still is not like an exam. I think I detect traces of Newspeak here.

Finally, in a rare moment of honesty (or poor copy editing) they say It’s easy to understand why parents don’t want to see their son or daughter marching off to war. As a footnote, I’ve been told that there actually are people who don’t like seeing anyone’s children, siblings or parents marching off to war. Despite the use of the word war here, most of the time it’s adventure, challenge, extreme and learning. Don’t bother looking for such arcane forms as killing or death – there’s no such thing in the New Army.

Why am I writing this 3 AM Saturday morning? Well, I just finished watching Existenz and am now taping Soylent Green. In other words, it’s as good a time as any.

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