There will be no sniffles on the assault course after Army bosses ruled that troops with cold symptoms can skip training, the Daily Mail can reveal.
For the first time, soldiers will be permitted to self-certify as sick with just a cough and excuse themselves from training at a moment’s notice.
They will not even have to report to the nearest medical centre afterwards for their ailments to be assessed.
Tough talking: But Michael Palin’s sergeant is a pushover. Critics could point to echoes of the famous clip in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life
Last night the staggering policy change was derided by ex-military chiefs and MPs but it has been confirmed by the Ministry of Defence and comes into effect immediately. The ‘opt-out control measure’, as it is officially called, applies to all military training.
Critics could point to echoes of the famous clip in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.
In the 1983 film, soldiers come up with soft excuses to escape Michael Palin’s tough parade ground sergeant, including reading a book, going to the cinema and learning the piano.
Last night former Army commander Colonel Richard Kemp said: ‘This simply isn’t viable for military training. Soldiers have to be motivated to complete a task. Life isn’t easy for them and they have to be supervised.
‘While this move may prevent a few unfortunate incidents in training, it will blunt combat effectiveness because we are training people for combat: where they may be required to fight whether they have a cold or not.’
Former Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood MP added: ‘We must move with the times and offer support for any mental or physical challenge but there is a balance to strike. We look to recruit those with grit and tenacity and what we ask of them is exceptional given the dangers they may face.
‘Let’s not lose sight of this as we update our standards.’
The new policy will also be written into risk assessments which must be read to troops ahead of any activities. The document appeared on the Forces Compare website yesterday and reads: ‘Personnel are not to participate in physical activity of any nature where they do not feel sufficiently well enough.
In January, a £2.8million television, radio and social media campaign told potential recruits it was OK to fail in a drive to enlist the ‘snowflake’ generation
The move comes after the Army introduced age and gender-neutral fitness tests and a Soldier Conditioning Review with no pass or fail
‘Opting out of a physical activity due to feeling unwell does not automatically necessitate that the individual “reports sick” to medical services. Many conditions (e.g. common cold) are self-limiting and suitable for self-management.
‘The policy relates to formal physical training and broader military training.’
The move comes after the Army introduced age and gender-neutral fitness tests and a Soldier Conditioning Review with no pass or fail.
In 2017, top brass wanted to drop the Army’s famous ‘Be the Best’ motto for being too elitist until Gavin Williamson, then Defence Secretary, intervened.
Soldiers will not even have to report to the nearest medical centre afterwards for their ailments to be assessed
In January, a £2.8million television, radio and social media campaign told potential recruits it was OK to fail in a drive to enlist the ‘snowflake’ generation.
The slogan to ‘Fail. Learn. Win’ came after recruitment drives aimed at sensitive millennials, such as telling would-be soldiers it was fine to cry.
Last night the Ministry of Defence said the wellbeing of personnel was its top priority, adding any physical activity delayed due to ill health will be completed on another date.