Armed forces head General Sir Nick Carter defends ‘laddish culture’


The Army needs ‘laddish culture’ because its soldiers need to be ‘good at winning on battlefields’, says armed forces head General Sir Nick Carter

  • General came under fire after giving evidence to Commons Defence Committee
  • He said he has never personally referred to himself as a he/him and that it was difficult to be a public figure in the world of modern media
  • It comes after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace summoned senior commanders for a discussion on the treatment of women in the service 


Armed forces head General Sir Nick Carter has defended his ‘laddish culture’ comment as he says he needs ‘people who are good at winning on battlefields’. 

The army chief came under fire this week after giving evidence to the Commons Defence Committee where he acknowledged the forces encouraged a ‘laddish culture’.

His appearance came after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace summoned senior commanders on the Army Board for a ‘full and frank’ discussion on the treatment of women in the service. 

Armed forces head General Sir Nick Carter (pictured) has defended his ‘laddish culture’ comment as he says he needs ‘people who are good at winning on battlefields’

In an interview published today, Carter said: ‘The point I was trying to make is that quite clearly one needs to have a culture in which we grow people who are able to close with and engage with an enemy at close quarters.

‘We need to recognise that we’re going to try and establish people who are good at winning on battlefields, OK?’

‘That doesn’t mean that they have to behave in an unacceptable or reprehensible way, or allow laddishism to get out of control,’ he told the Times. 

He added that he has never personally referred to himself as a he/him, but didn’t ‘necessarily disapprove of it’. 

He also said that it was difficult to be a public figure in the world of modern media and admitted that military’s leaders have failed as they didn’t get behind eradicating ‘unacceptable behaviour that encourages a lack of respect for the other members of the team’.

Asked about the rising tensions on Poland’s border with Belarus, he said there is a ‘greater risk’ of an accidental war with Russia than during the Cold War.

The army chief came under fire this week after giving evidence to the Commons Defence Committee (above) where he acknowledged the forces encouraged a 'laddish culture'

The army chief came under fire this week after giving evidence to the Commons Defence Committee (above) where he acknowledged the forces encouraged a ‘laddish culture’

Carter, who stands down at the end of the month, was questioned about a recent report by the defence sub-committee which found 58% of women serving in the forces and 68% of female veterans had experienced bullying, harassment or discrimination during their careers.

He said the issue needed to be tackled while at the same time maintaining the fighting spirit of the services.  

He told Defence Committee MPs: ‘Part of the reason that we encourage a laddish culture is that ultimately our soldiers have to go close and personal with the enemy. 

‘What you have got to try and do is to square both these outputs.

‘What one has to do is one has to get people who are building these teams to understand that the team will be a better team if it is more diverse and more inclusive and therefore women and ethnic minorities and all the rest of it are part of the equation.

‘There is a fundamental cultural shift that needs to been made there. The chiefs of staff committee get this.

‘The trick is how you cascade that level of commitment down through the layers of the chain of command to get people to get people right down at the face of what we are talking about to understand that this is totally unacceptable.

‘How we fix it I think we have a sense of, but we are going to have to keep going at it hard.’

The head of the British armed forces also said it is too early to say the Nato alliance suffered a defeat in Afghanistan

The head of the British armed forces also said it is too early to say the Nato alliance suffered a defeat in Afghanistan

The head of the British armed forces also said it is too early to say the Nato alliance suffered a defeat in Afghanistan.

General Sir Nick Carter said in evidence to the Commons Defence committee that the Taliban authorities who took over after the collapse of the Afghan government in August were very different to the previous Taliban government.

Under their rule he said it was possible Afghanistan could become a more inclusive country than would otherwise have been the case.

He said: ‘Taliban 2.0 is different. There are a lot of people in Taliban 2.0 who who would like to govern in a more modern way, but they are divided among themselves, as political entities so often are.

‘If the less repressive elements end up gaining control… then I think there is no reason to suppose that Afghanistan over the next five years might not turn out into a country that is more inclusive than it might have otherwise.

‘I think it is too early to say that defeat has occurred. Victory here needs to be measured in the results and not some great military extravaganza.’

British forces were never defeated on the battlefield in Afghanistan, the head of the UK’s armed forces said.

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