Monday, November 1, 1999 Published at 10:57 GMT
Taking the strife out of army life
Soldiers are encouraged not bullied over assault courses
The armed forces are being told to be nicer to their recruits as they struggle to get more people to join up.
And when the average soldier costs £30,000 to train, it is a cost the defence budget cannot continue to afford.
It appears that the Playstation generation is more used to computer-generated individual war heroes than the alien concept of team discipline.
So now a softly-softly approach is being recommended by senior officers who say intelligence is more important than the ability to obey a command without question.
Even assault courses have changed. Infantrymen have seven months to achieve the same level of fitness formerly required at the beginning of training.
Lance Corporal Roger Webb of the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment, said: "It's changed from the old image of the sergeant major screaming at you to get out of bed. A lot of the emphasis is on the individual now."
But retaining armed forces personnel has proved just as difficult as recruiting them.
Training programmes are being adapted to encourage a higher commitment to the service.
Pregnant women are encouraged to stay and degrees are offered in tandem with training.
Air Vice Marshall Tony Stables said: "The simple answer is that you have to make the Royal Air Force such an attractive way of life that nobody wants to leave it.
"It's a good vibrant organisation and we have to make it better. We have to improve the conditions of service, and leisure facilities and make it so attractive that no one wants to leave."