Life in the Armed Forces

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Roles of the military

What are the roles of the Armed Forces?


The first thing that usually comes to mind is soldiers fighting in wars to defend our country.

Well… that certainly is part of their job, the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force ARE responsible for keeping our country safe and that can sometimes mean fighting in conflicts. 

So what else do the Armed Forces do?

When they’re not fighting in conflicts they might be ‘flying the flag’ – a warship making a friendly visit to an overseas port or a jet fighter flying along the English Channel just to say “yep, we’re here”.

Quite often you’ll never see the armed forces at work.  They may be out gathering intelligence – which is kind of more about gigabites than guns! 

Specialist military staff will be using some of the most advanced technology to help protect our country’s security.

The information they gather helps our government understand what is going on in the world, and where threats might be coming from.

How do the Armed Forces help in an emergency?

Helping in rescue efforts is something the Armed Forces are experts at.

The RAF and Royal Navy both have Search and Rescue Aircraft. If you get stuck out at sea or lost when climbing – or just hurt in any place that’s difficult for the emergency services to reach – then you might be taking a ride in a helicopter too!

When natural or man-made disasters occur, such as an earthquake or power station explosion – 

our Armed Forces can easily respond to these life-threatening scenarios.

How did the military help in Nepal?

In April 2015, the country of Nepal was devastated by severe earthquakes.

Over eight thousand people were killed and thousands more injured.

In just a few days, our Armed Forces had sent help – including shelter kits, water purification systems, solar lanterns and helicopters – to help get aid to the people that needed it and helping the Nepalese get back on their feet. 

The RAF ferried supplies there and brought home British people who were stranded in the devastation.

What is military pageantry?


Pageantry is all about special displays or ceremonies.  Lots of them remind us of our history – like, the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace!

The Monarch – that’s the Queen – and the Royal Palaces have been guarded by trained soldiers for hundreds of years.  Most of the time outside Buckingham Palace you’ll see Guards dressed in their red uniforms and bearskin hats.

Whilst they are very smart in their parade uniforms, remember Guards are trained soldiers, so on another day they may be crawling through a muddy assault course or running on a thirty mile yomp across Salisbury Plain or driving around in armoured vehicles.

If you think that’s a lot, well don’t forget that members of the Armed Forces may be medics or chaplains or engineers or cooks or suppliers or drivers. 

So as you can see, there’s a lot more to our Armed Forces than just soldiers in battle.

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Life in the Armed Forces

Find out about Life in the Armed Forces

More From Life in the Armed Forces