Royal Marines Mud Run (Crown Copyright, 2011)

Royal Marines Morale Hits Rock Bottom

UK Armed Forces Survey Shows Declining Morale Across All Military Services

The MOD has released the findings of its Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey (AFCAS) 2018. From September 2017 to February 2018, they handed out 27,333 questionnaires to Regular serving personnel in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, British Army and RAF, and got 11,069 back (40%). This is what they found out.

Most noticeably, satisfaction with Service life has been on a downward spiral since a high of 61% in 2009 to now stand at a dismal 41%.

Overall, personal morale was generally higher, decreasing for unit and lowest for Service. Across all the Services, 36% described personal morale as high, while only 17% described unit morale as high and only 7% described Service morale as high. Two-thirds (67%) described Service morale as low. The report noted that the main reason for this lay with dramatically falling morale among Royal Marines.

Royal Marines Morale At All-Time Low

In 2015, 64% of Royal Marine officers and 32% of Royal Marine other ranks rated Service morale as high. Now, only 23% of officers and just 9% of other ranks do so.

The Royal Marines have been the subject of a number of rumours and reports that have suggested that the Marines’ 6,600 strong force may be reduced as many as 2,000, with the additional loss of the Royal Navy’s amphibious assault ships, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark.

Low Military Morale Affects Recruitment

The morale of serving personnel is critical, not only to retention, but also to recruitment. Overall, less than half (41%) of those now serving would recommend joining up to others.

Recommendation was also based on rank. More than half of officers (56%) would recommend joining up to others, but only 38% of other ranks would do so.

It is not only a problem of morale. Across the board, servicemen and women are increasingly dissatisfied with pay, allowances and benefits. They are less satisfied with appraisal and promotion.

… And Retention

Consequently, many of those now in uniform are planning on leaving: 31% of those in the Royal Navy, 26% of those in the Royal Marines, 25% of those in the Army and 27% of those in RAF all plan on leaving the service. Many others are undecided, meaning that 57% overall intend to stay on at least until the end of their current engagement/commission.

Things most likely to influence the decision to leave were the impact of service life on family and personal life, and spouse/partner’s career.

Still Making Their Families Proud

Is there any good news? Most (88%) serving personnel believed that their family was proud of the fact that they were in uniform. Even this was tempered by the fact that only 24% thought that their family benefitted from their service.

While 71% thought that they offered an important service to the country, only 38% thought that society valued them.

Finally, few Service personnel thought that effective action had been taken on previous survey results – only 16% – or would be taken – only 20%. So is it all a waste of time?

An MOD spokesman told Forces Network, “We will now work with the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force to address the findings of this year’s survey.”


Source: Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey 2018.

Image: Royal Marines Mud Run (Crown Copyright, 2011).