Soldiers told to be avoid words like 'lads' as it could cause offence

‘Don’t call each other lads’: Soldiers are told to be more inclusive and avoid using words such as ‘mankind’ and ‘sportmanship’ over fears they could cause offence

  • Troops from 22 Engineer Regiment told not to use ‘lads’ so as not cause offence 
  • Army’s gender equality drive also includes bans on ‘mankind’ & ‘sportsmanship’
  • ‘Lads’ ban emerged in orders given by 22 Engineer Regiment’s sergeant major 

Soldiers have been banned from referring to each other as ‘lads’ in the Army’s latest gender equality drive.

Troops from 22 Engineer Regiment were told not to use the word because it may cause offence, even if no women are present.

Words such as ‘mankind’ and ‘sportsmanship’ have also been banned as the Armed Forces is remodelled as a gender-neutral organisation.

The ‘lads’ ban came in orders given by 22 Engineer Regiment’s sergeant major to all troops taking part in online meetings

Millions of pounds have also been spent on gender-neutral bathroom facilities at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the Army’s officer training centre, and other bases.

Such moves originate from the Ministry of Defence’s joint equality, diversity and inclusion unit, known as Jedi.


As military operations go, it’s fair to say this one tanked.

It was red faces all round after an armoured personnel carrier overturned during an Army

exercise on Salisbury Plain.

Thursday’s incident at the Ministry of Defence’s Bulford camp in Wiltshire resulted in a callout to Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service. No one was injured.

The MoD owns 150 square miles of land on Salisbury Plain. A spokesman said: ‘A military tracked vehicle slipped off a track and toppled during a driver training course.’

The ban on ‘lads’ has emerged in a set of orders given by 22 Engineer Regiment’s sergeant major to all troops taking part in online meetings. 

He told his troops that ‘values and standards’ [V and S] had been slacking recently while using Zoom calls or Microsoft Teams meetings to conduct military business.

He said: ‘There has been a drop in V and S over the last few weeks… Saluting/bracing up [coming to attention]… make sure people are getting paid the correct compliments… All are to remember D and I [diversity and inclusion] – “gents”, “men”, “lads” and other phrases are not to be used.’

A ban on women serving in close combat units was lifted in 2016 and since 2018 women have been able to apply for all military roles.

The Army has also introduced gender and age-neutral fitness tests, with the same standards required of male and female troops in tests such as press ups and running.

But while there is support for such initiatives, stopping troops using phrases which are included in so many everyday conversations tends to test their patience.

A serving soldier said: ‘I’ve served on operations with lots of women. I didn’t meet one who was offended by the word “lads”. 

‘Someone of such a sensitive nature, be they male or female, would not last five minutes. 

‘I think the bosses are trying to solve a problem which frankly doesn’t exist. 

‘There is no engrained or subconscious bias in the use of words like “lads”… This is nonsense.’

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