UK Armed forces to get new guidance on how to use ‘inclusive language’

Pictured Admiral Sir Tony Radakin

The new guide includes more inclusive ways to address disability, race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation and social mobility


The armed forces are to be given new guidance on “inclusive language” after the Defence Secretary said he is “unhappy” with the current advice.

Military personnel from all three services had been told to avoid using phrases such as “crippled with debt” or “blind drunk”.

The MoD said its Inclusive Language Guide 2021 was a “practical toolkit” to help servicemen and women understand why “certain words or use of language is hurtful or non-inclusive”.

A senior defence source told the Telegraph: “The Defence Secretary and Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) have been clear that the UK armed forces must modernise to tackle the threats of the future. That includes our approach to our people who are critical to that task.

“The Defence Secretary is unhappy with the current approach set out in the guide. A revised version will be published in the coming weeks.”

The guide will be taken down from the MoD website while changes are made. The guide, produced by the MoD’s Diversity and Inclusion Directorate, denies being “an attempt to police language” or “restrict your personal style of communication”, but was created to help staff “speak more powerfully, precisely and respectfully”, according to the Mail on Sunday tot recommended avoiding phrases such as “deaf to our pleas” in case it offended the disabled.

The 30-page pamphlet said the words “woman” and “female” “mean different things but are often used interchangeably”, adding: “Referring to women as females is perceived by many as reducing a woman to her reproductive parts and abilities.

“Not all women are biologically female, and the conflation of ‘female’ to ‘woman’ erases gender-nonconforming people and members of the trans community.”

“The women in the platoon” is said to be a more inclusive phrase than “the females in the platoon”.

The guide includes more inclusive ways to address disability, race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation and social mobility.

The MoD wants personnel to put the “person-first” when speaking to others, only referencing characteristics when they are relevant and doing so in specific ways.

Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace pictured in May CREDIT: Anadolu

References to race or disability should only be used when relevant to the context of any discussion, the guide states, adding it is important to ask how others self-identify.

As far as possible neutral language should be used at all times.

The recommendations aim to be non-confrontational. The guide advises personnel challenging others on their language to be polite and prepared to “explain the logic” behind their views.

Equally, those being challenged should not “take it personally” and should support junior peers to raise challenges with more senior colleagues, according to the guide.

Push for greater diversity

The Telegraph understands there are no plans to disband or redirect the MoD’s Diversity and Inclusion Directorate, which was responsible for the guide.

The news came as the new CDS, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, said the push for greater diversity in the military is not about being “woke”, but addressing the “woeful” lack of women and ethnic minorities in the forces.

In his first speech in the post, Adm Radakin said: “This is not about wokefulness. It is about woefulness. The woefulness of too few women.

“The woefulness of not reflecting the ethnic, religious and cognitive diversity of our nation.

“And the woefulness of not following our own values, whether respect for each other or the simple integrity of claiming expenses.”


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  • Alan Foyle December 14, 2021  

    What a load of frog sh*t! I’m sure the Chinese will appreciate that amendment when they invade the UK.

  • Steve Wynn December 14, 2021  

    Is the soldier facing fire going to be sacked, or admonished, when he shouts “shoot the [email protected]*#!”, and if he survives will he be re-educated in the new modern military language. What a disgrace, we need politicians and military leaders with some backbone to stand up to this crap. Looks like the British military leadership has the same problem our Oz military leaders have, gutless and cowards. The military is there for one reason, defend the country and KILL the enemy, not talk them to death.

  • Ken.T. December 14, 2021  

    As stated the Military was once charged with the duty of defending the Country from all and any aggressors. What is going to happen when Billy the Rifle Person states, he/she can’t shoot him/her because they are to prity/hansom? Chase my little black ducks, where in Hell are we going with all this garbage? I, like so many others during my career in the Military served along side blokes who had different out looks on life, and then in my civilian career, the same prevailed. I really do fear for the future of our Armed Forcers if this is an indication of the future. Will Hellen get a T.P.I. if she brakes a finger-nail whilst having to dig a shell scrape with her hands? Don’t get me wrong. I served with some of the hardest toughest woman God hovelled guts into. They would send shivers up my spine when ever they got their hormones going, and believe me they didn’t need any desk jockey to tell them how to talk to any one. Their vocabulary was very broad and straight to the point. The Turkeys at the top have to learn to not fix things that ain’t broken.

  • Warren Thatcher December 15, 2021  

    I’m speechless !
    The Military have been infiltrated.

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