Anticipating Army Exit: Identity Constructions of Final Year UK Career Soldiers


Approximately 18,000 people leave the UK armed forces each year. Ministry of Defence support exists to cushion transition out of the armed forces and this begins roughly two years before exit. At this time, career leavers are often facing important practical challenges associated with what they will do next. This research examines issues associated with this transitional phase.


There is recent concern about what becomes of Armed Forces leavers. This is most apparent among leavers themselves and is a feature of short careers that compel individuals to find replacement jobs and lifestyles. Concern for one's civilian future rises to prominence in the pre-exit period and is confronted in resettlement processes during this time. Based on qualitative analysis of interviews with twenty eight UK regular Army career soldiers and officers, the article argues that the final year of service - though mostly a practical endeavor - is also an important time for tackling matters of identity. The work is underpinned theoretically by a combination of Mead's pragmatism and Ricoeur's hermeneutics and constructs a typology of pre-exit orientation. This is an approach that casts some doubt about the utility of projecting oneself into unknown civilian futures from the context of distinctive and familiar Army relations.

Full Reference

Anticipating Army Exit. David I. Walker. (2013) Armed Forces & Society .Vol 39, Issue 2, pp. 284 - 304.