The Ministry of Defence has revealed that not a single individual in the military’s most senior three ranks identify as Black, Asian or Minority ethnicity. 

In information exclusively obtained by the UK Defence Journal, the MoD stated:

“The highest NATO rank of a member of the UK Regular Armed Forces who declares a BAME ethnicity as at 1 October 2018 is OF-6”

Countries within NATO have a standardised system of ranks to ensure simplicity. In the United Kingdom ‘OF6’ (OF being an abbreviation of Officer) is equal to a Brigadier in the British Army, a Commodore in the Royal Navy, and an Air Commodore in the Royal Air Force.

In October 2018, the MoD released figures showing just 6.5% of the total intake into the Armed Forces for the previous 12 months were of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME). The Ministry of Defence’s target is for 10% of the yearly intake to be BAME by 2020.

In 2015, the then Defence Secretary Michael Fallon stated: “I want at least 10 per cent of our new recruits to come from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background. This isn’t about tokenism it is about attracting the brightest and best.”

“Although 12 per cent of Britain’s workforce are members of an ethnic minority they only make up 7 per cent of our armed forces. That’s not good enough”

Michael Fallon, Previous Defence Secretary, speaking in 2015

The Royal Air Force is the least diverse, with just 2.4% of their personnel identifying as BAME. By comparison, roughly 13% of the UK’s population is of BAME background.

Whilst diversity in the Armed Forces is improving, this is not reflected in the number of officers from ethnic minorities. In October 2018, 2.5% of officer were from ethnic minorities, a rise of just 0.1% since April 2012.

Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter has previously stated he wants the Armed Forces to have a “culture of inclusivity”.

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Barry Larking

“The admission is a shocking reflection on the Armed Forces, which often states that it prides itself on diversity.” The British Armed Forces deserve better than that kind of slur. I can imagine they have done more and for longer than almost any other British institution to advance the interests of all ranks whatever; I knew one from a very disadvantaged background who left as an R.S.M. We must acknowledge leadership is beyond colour and class. It takes a special kind of personality. I have respect for those who stood aside when they realised they did not want the responsibility.… Read more »


Couldnt agree more.
This sort of thing is pathetic.
There will come a time when some of these ‘minorities’ will get their chance, but that so called report is a slur on our military.

George Allison

Right Andrew, why would the UK Defence Journal want to slur the military, exactly?


‘There will come a time when some of these ‘minorities’ will get their chance,’ Are you for real? The armed forces should reflect the society that pays for them and for whom they serve. Now. If the views of the majority of denizens of this military forum are any indication, the armed forces suffer from institutional racism and discrimination due to nostalgia for Empire, illegal (unwinnable) wars and right wing politico-cultural values. From Prince Harry calling a fellow recruit ‘our little Paki friend’ to soldiers shooting at posters of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn through to sexual assault on female soldiers,… Read more »


I’m sorry to say it, but what a perfectly stupid reply.

You have given nothing to the discussion at all.

NOBODY needs a ‘hands up’, NOBODY.
If you think otherwise then what can i say.
Nobody here thinks affirmative action is good. Nobody here is suggesting outright racism.
A job given is based on ability.
You are making a bold claim by insinuation…can you back that up? No, no you cant

Token appointments mean nothing.
In the world of the military it means absolutely everythinh

Captain P Wash

Iqbal, You need to go and re read the Sexual Assault Thread, It was mostly Male on Male.


And? So what.

The millitary isnt a game, and affermative action is incredibly divisive, terrible for moral and can be bloody dangerous.
What if the ‘diverse’ ones either (a) do not want higher rankings to this level, or (b) are simply not good enough or served long enough to be one?!
People should only be considered for these roles/posistions based purely on merit and experience, not on skin colour nor where their bloody grandparents came from.


We need to recruit people based on their skill and ability not their ethnicity! We shouldn’t be working towards a 10% Quota just for the sake of being inclusive! Its the bloody military, does that mean other well meaning majority people are being excluded from certain roles because of this! We shouldn’t target these specific people and give them the advantage, if they aren’t as good as an equivelent white candidate at the recruiting office, then it should go to the best person!


You sound as if you come out of Mississippi c1950. As we all know there was a de facto ‘colour bar’ in the officer corp through to the 70s which was part of the endemic racism and white superiority that BAME believes still persists to this day that’s why the only black recruits are from Africa or the Caribbean. But let’s face it no one black or white with any intelligence joins the armed forces today unless they’re unemployable or from Scotland Wales or NI. To be blunt unless you make it into the Signals Reg chances are you’re quite… Read more »

Alan Garner

Identity politics is best ignored, as are it’s adherents. Pandering to them will lose people their lives in this arena and those in power should be ashamed, if they were capable of that emotion.


This is a pretty deep issue and internet comments are probably not the best place for its discussion but the lack of diversity in the senior command of the British army is of course related to the lack of diversity in the recruitment of officers. OTCs and public school recruitment plus an unhealthy dose of nepotism does not lead to a diverse officers corps. Socially our country has moved beyond the old fashioned nature of the officers mess. To put it simply our best and brightest don’t just come from the playing fields of Eton but from council estates in… Read more »


Not really that deep at all as this should be a non issue. 87% of the UK is white, therefore the overwhelming majority of the armed forces would be white, and then have a small number of mixed race/ethnicity. Now, seeing as the MOD are always looking for the very finest men and women, it is no surprise there isnt this made up token allotment for ‘people of colour’ as they are a minority group, half of which are women and the majority of these groups do not enter into service. How many ‘white’ people have not made it either?… Read more »


I agree with an most of what you say but perhaps I did not make my point very clearly. The armed forces deserve the best people for the job regardless of race, colour, religion, economic circumstances etc. I do not believe that current recruitment reflects that. It is a system where you need to fit a mould regardless of your ability. White working class Geordies fit that mould about as well as black kids from Croydon. I do not agree with quotas but for our armed forces to get the personal they deserve I believe something needs to change. Disproportionately… Read more »


And i also agree with most of what you say too. But having quotas for minorities for anything is ridiculous. The military is open to everyone, and everyone has the opportunity to further their career on merit. Being a minority should not give you a leg up in any field. Yet this is exactly what is happening, and this is what will happen if left unchecked. The fact there are so few is a reflection on just how high the standards must be. As i said before, i would want the finest First Sea Lord should be exactly that, and… Read more »


I am glad we are having a civil conversation ?. I agree with the principles of everything you have just said. For me this is where it becomes difficult to explain my opinion but here goes. Some things should trump our principles for the greater good of society as a whole. I believe integration and inclusion are something we should be actively pushing. The benefits of successful integration of minorities are greater than the cost of implementation in my opinion. I could very easily be wrong. I do not like quotas but I am not sure of another quantifiable solution… Read more »


Always a pleasure to talk with civility, and always good to have it recipricated. I do understand what you are saying, but having ‘representation’ for the sake of it is not a good idea, esp in our military. The Gurkhas are some of the most distinguished and fearsome British soldier out their, i havent heard them crying for ‘representation’. They put the fear of god into any enemy. They are picked purely on merit. They are the very best of British, and i salute everyone of them for their outstanding bravery and intelligence. There is absolutely no need to even… Read more »

Lt Aldo Raine

Your opposition to the idea of service personnel from ethnic minorities ‘getting a leg up’ is both valid but, at the same time misses the point. I fully agree a person should not be promoted on the basis of their skin colour but why do you appear to think greater representation of ethnic minorities in senior ranks would only come about as a result of affirmative action/positive discrimination? Are you unwilling to consider the possibility that low representation at the present time may be because those from ethnic minorities are unduly disadvantaged or, in some cases, unfairly discriminated against? This… Read more »


I do not think greater representation would only come about through affermative action at all, and to suggest that is my thinking is missing my point wholly. I am saying that no one should be given that advantage. And once read again, my reply has stated multiple times that i wouldnt care who got the job as long as they are the best for it. If that happens to be an ‘ethnic’ person, who cares. What you have suggested is that outright racism could be a factor, and if so i would be outraged to find that out, and we… Read more »


My son was desperate to join the Royal Navy. He failed the AIB, but NO ONE came back to him for feedback, NO ONE contacted him full stop. He has now given up and will be studying Physics at Oxford University and was offered a full leadership scholarship by a very well know US company after passing an selection process far more challenging than the AIB. I’m not sure what leadership criteria the Royal Navy looks for but suspect that the expectations of a 17 year old would be similar to those expected by a private enterprise. A US company… Read more »

Graham Moore

Outside of the Guards and Cavalry, there is widespread induction of officer applicants from State schools and this has been the case for many years. I commissioned from a lower middle class family into REME from the largest Comprehensive school in the country in 1975 and I was not in a minority. In recent years more applicants have come from working class families. I would think the minority come from public schools outside the Guards, Cavalry and the most post of the Line Infantry battalions.

Daniele Mandelli

I’m not a fan of this PC percentages stuff.

Do ethnic minorities even want to join the military in the numbers desired?

If they are good enough colour is irrelevant so I don’t see why not unless their heart is not with the country in which case they won’t join anyway.

Look at the quality of the Gurkhas. Numbers applying far exceed places available.

Has there been any comparison with other NATO members?


From what I’ve seen, especially of Asian immigrants in the USA, they really don’t see the military as a means of succeeding. For them, education, and a steady job in a respected field(doctors, engineers, teachers, etc.) is how you achieve that success. The kind of pride and loyalty of citizenship that would prompt a person to join a branch of the military is usually found in some of the 1st generation, and more of the 2nd and later generations of immigrants. That ingrained cultural aspect of immigrants is overcome in later generations as the newer generations finds more to identify… Read more »


As a second generation British Muslim from the Indian subcontinent, I can confirm that certain prestige career paths you mention are favoured over the armed forces. This is particularly true for our parents generation. It’s part of the immigrant outlook regardless of country of origin to have ‘made it’. Britain has made huge strides in integrating diverse BAME groups into sectors as far and wide as the civil service, media and the teaching profession. The armed forces are an outlier. This is partly because the army is no longer seen as a prestige employer eg. because of the breakdown of… Read more »


I wonder how many OF6 and above came from a working class background.


I think that you’re more likely to move up the ranks if you’re a Giles or a Rupert than if you are a Kevin or a Shazza.

Iqbal’s and Arjun’s are unlikely to even be at the races.


Wrong, as over 55% of new entrants to Sandhursts between 2017-2018 came from state schools. Oh dear, wrong again Iqi. Damn this military subject matter is getting hard for your tiny never served, know nothing about the military brain isn’t it son. You are getting yourself confused with the high percentage of Guards Divison (look it up as I am sure you have no clue) Officers who take pride in having a family connection throughout history, in their respective Regiments, and who do have a private education. If you need any more advice pal maybe ask those who have spent… Read more »

Graham Moore

You are right. Public school entrants into the officer Corps have been in the minority for many years. The Guards, Cavalry and the poshest of the line Infantry continue to favour Public school entrants, though. Many working class applicants in recent years too.

Graham Moore

Good point. In my Sandhurst platoon in 1975 there were 2 boys from working class families. Now, it would probably be at least 25 per cent, but I don’t have the stats. However, that is in the formative years. OF-6 officers would rarely be working class, although I knew of one Brigadier who was – he had been in my Sandhurst platoon!

Los pollos (Hermanos) Chicken

Total and utter horse? no wonder things are as bad as they are when a faceless elite of globalists promote non stories and ? like this. I couldn’t give a ???? what colour they are as long as they are the best people for the job. Would anyone want to be operated on for heart surgery if the surgeon doing the op was only in that job cos he was part of a quota for the sake of diversity or would you get on a plane knowing the only reason the pilot was there was they were given the job… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

My place of work has similar. A PC graduate who’s a manager wants 20% of the intake for my role ethnic, female, or disabled.

Does that mean perfectly able and qualified applicants are rejected at the interview stage because of this quota, simply for being white?

I’ve read of this nonsense with the Police and the BBC.

Look at the qualities of people, not the colour of their skin or their gender.


Well ethnic, female or disabled is more than 50% of the population so 20% is not that big an ask. I apologise, flippant comments aside quotas are not a great idea but I am not sure what other quantifiable methods there are to avoid prejudice. I think we agree that there is no place for prejudice in the modern work place. I don’t like quotas but they are a simple solution to a difficult problem.

Let Aldo Raine

Do you honestly believe that none of the white, able-bodied males employed in all manner of roles in our society don’t owe their positions, at least in part, to being white, able-bodied and male? Is it beyond comprehension that some of those white, able-bodied men are hopeless in their roles but remain in them without justification and that there may be people who are non-white, disabled or female (or any combination of the above) who might deserve those roles much more but have not been given the opportunity? I’m not suggesting positive discrimination may not result in some injustices to… Read more »

Steve R

Not surprising really, when you look at it logically. To be OF6 or higher you’d realistically have to have been a commissioned officer for what, 25 years on average? 30 maybe? More? Let’s say 30 for the sake of argument. So that turns to clock back to 1989. Back then, the ethnic mix in Britain wasn’t what it is now. The amount of BAME people wasn’t anywhere near what it is now. Those numbers would have likely been reflected in the number of BAME recruits joining the military at the time. Out of those, many were from poorer working class… Read more »

Levi Goldsteinberg

Boo bloody hoo. Quality is the only important thing and race should have no bearing whatsoever either way


Let me guess, you’re white?

There should be quotas for a time. When there is a level playing field, the army has reformed its customs and recruitment practices and the gap has become less apparent in terms of numbers, we can do away with it.


Let me quess, your a troll? One who likes to presume they know what is going on. You have absolutly no clue about British Army customs and recruitment, as you have never served and just like to troll various websites as you are quite sad.

Steve R

I wholly disagree with quotas. Giving preferential treatment to any one group of people as positive discrimination is still negative discrimination to other people. In essence it’s promoting somebody because they are BAME and not for their talents or abilities. How do you think other people around them would feel, knowing that they were passed up for promotion purely because they are white and the person chosen is black or Asian. Moreover how do you think that same black or Asian officer would feel, knowing that they weren’t promoted on the basis of merit but because of the colour of… Read more »


Love how so many Europeans call America racist yet America has led the way in integrating different races into all it’s military ranks and did so many, many decades ago. Looks like the old boys still run the British military.

Harry Bulpit

Why should it matter how a person identifys. Everyone should be given the same opportunitys as any one else and those best suited to a job should get it. Having a quator for “diversity” is just legalising racism.


I think the reason for the quota is to ensure the armed forces start to reflect society, then when people of colour feel more inclined to join up you can purely deal with it on ability. At the moment not enough people of colour are even applying.

Harry Bulpit

Nothing is stopping minoritys from joining. If they chose for what ever reason to not join that the individuals problem and theirs alone. Also I’m not talking about advertising hear, if you want to advertise to minoritys great all adds need a target. I’m talking about given a person a job who’s only qualification is the colour of their skin or the gender to which they are attracted.


Meant to put this here, not in a reply.

We need to recruit people based on their skill and ability not their ethnicity! We shouldn’t be working towards a 10% Quota just for the sake of being inclusive! Its the bloody military, does that mean other well meaning majority people are being excluded from certain roles because of this! We shouldn’t target these specific people and give them the advantage, if they aren’t as good as an equivelent white candidate at the recruiting office, then it should go to the best person!


Also, I though there a Sikh Admiral or Commodore??? I could be wrong though.

David E Flandry

I heard there was a left-handed albino transgendered bisexual admiral. Seriously, what does it matter? Do we want qualified people regardless of their statistics or not?


If they are good enough to do the job, who gives a [email protected]#k apart from the idiots in Westminster!!


It shouldnt matter at all! It’s only an issue if we make it an issue.

Graham Moore

There was a Asian Muslim Admiral one or 2 years ago.



Gandalfo Americano

Does it sound like a completely stupid idea? Yes, it does.

If we can easily see how stupid and harmful affirmative action is, why would we assume that genius-tier… leaders… are doing this on accident?

“By way of deception, thou shalt do war.”


I can’t help feeling many have missed the point. The armed forces, like the the police, should reflect the society it serves in order to make the whole country feel like they are being represented and valued. If this was the case, and senior ranks reflected society at large, you would attract more people of colour to apply which would help with recruitment numbers and quality. No one is suggesting anything other than entrants and promotions based on ability, but you cannot just assume everyone will be treated the same. If they are then how can we explain the lack… Read more »

Harry Bulpit

Because there’s no one of BAME (what ever that means) who has qualified for the role. Simply because most senior officers are white males since only recently have females and homesexuals been allowed in to the same role. Along with the fact most of the country is white. However, as the country begins to have more ethnicity in it and as more time passes. Those previously unable to join will begin to clime the ranks as everyone else had to and will one day be at the top.

Steve R

It’s a numbers game as I said in an earlier post. To reach OF6 level you’d have had to be a military officer for probably close to 30 years. So the highest ranks, those who’ve been in for that 30 years or more, are ethnically reflective of the time when they joined up, in this case around 1989 or so. Today ethnic minority accounts for around 12% of UK demographic. Back in 1989 that was probably more like 5%. So say those numbers are reflected in the armed forces in 1989: if 5% of officers then were BAME and only… Read more »


We are a vastly majority White Nation!.. Now I see why the government wanted all the imigration!

Daniele Mandelli

One we’ve an ageing population.

And two New Labour hoped they’d vote Labour.

Evan P

It makes sense that if there is recruitment drive aimed at minorities, that there will be a delay before they reach the highest ranks of a few decades at least.


This is some serious drivel.


If 13% of the general population are from a black, Asian or mixed race ethnic background, and the armed forces are only drawing 6.5% of their recruits from a similar background, then there’s a wider pool of talent that they haven’t tapped yet, most likely because current recruitment campaigns aren’t engaging them, and we really should aim to reach out across all groups to ensure we are really getting the best, not just the best that turned up because they happened to see the poster. That said, given all the issues with retention and recruitment over the last 9 years,… Read more »


Where is Iqbal the troll, he is missing a good subject to froth about here? Iqbaaaaaaaaaaal son, where are you? There’s a subject here you know nothing about which needs your attention!


Whatever happened to ability and not caring about the color of someone’s skin? There is no basis whatsoever for quotas. I don’t care whether you call it “positive discrimination” or “affirmative action” it is the racism of low expectations dressed up in politically correct language. As for the Armed Forces “must be representative”? The Military must be efficient and combat effective. What it should never be is a sociology experiment. That is how you end up sending “we regret to inform you” letters. The Military’s job in regards to personnel is train them to be the best in peace, effectively… Read more »


Just a point…how do they know that no minority groups are not in senior positions. What about gay officers that have not come out for some reason. Also, it isn’t always obvious when someone has a multi-racial background!


If i stop visiting this site it will be because of articles like this.

George Allison



I won’t waffle on but just want to say that this sort of chuff is only debated and discussed at very senior level, and political levels. The boys and girls on the ground don’t give monkeys toss what colour their immidiate boss/mate/oppo is. Their only concern is that they are professional, trained and have their soldiers ( and presume sailors/airmens) interests at heart. Yes many people of a black heritage don’t think the military is a career for them, and due to certain ingrained social issues, will never want to join the military. In an ideal world all public services… Read more »


Aside from the information obtained by ukdefencejournal on the lack of BAME senior ranks, the article refers to more general published MoD information. I tracked this down as the UK armed forces biannual diversity statistics. Taking figures for the Army and looking back at periods of 6 months ending 31 Mar 17, 30 Sep 17, 31 Mar 18, and 30 Sep 18 the BAME intake was: 10.4%, 14.9%, 11.7%, 7.4%. The Army has been hitting that 10% target, although for officers the numbers are: 4.1%, 4.5%, 3.6%, 2.0%. Looking slightly wider, the total Army intakes for the periods were: 8,290… Read more »


Please, UK, don’t fall further for that “diversity for diversity’s sake” crap that’s hamstringing us here in the States. In science, education, engineering, medicine, manufacturing, the military, firefighting, and everything else that doesn’t involve porn, it must always be qualifications over gender and race.

Ian Stevenson

I am very late to this discussion, I have read every one of the comments, and I openly admit I am saddened and disillusioned. The report correctly reports on the state of recruitment, and the failure to attain targets. Please tell me if I am wrong, but nowhere does it state that quotas are required or have been set, or any such suggestion of such. Kethdwat made a statement about how quotas would be wrong, and broadly I would support that unless there was a much more strong and urgent case for it’s introduction. In so many replies that followed,… Read more »