Every year, the British Armed Forces invites young people from a wide range of communities to take part in the Etihad Challenge.
The teenage participants, most of whom come from ethnic minority backgrounds, are put in groups before tackling an Army-style assault course.
Along with fostering teamwork and leadership skills – as well as being great fun – the Etihad Challenge hopes to shift the participants’ perceptions of the Army.
Scottish teenagers spent a week finding out what the Armed Forces is really about.
Posted by Armed Forces Muslim Association on Friday, September 29, 2017
Coming into the week, the young people taking part tend to have little interaction with the Armed Forces.
But after working together with officers to overcome physical challenges and learn leadership skills, the teenagers have a different perspective on what service in Armed Forces entails.
Indeed, the organisers want to show that service in the forces isn’t about who you are or where you come from – it’s about the values you represent. These are shared by people from all walks of life, including British Muslim, who have a long and storied history of service in this country.
Moreover, the Etihad challenge gives the Army the chance to learn from the participants, and listen to their lived experience on the way to strengthen their communications with different communities.
At AFMA, we know the vital role Muslims play in the Armed Forces. Not just as infantrymen, but in the countless other non-combat jobs that are needed to keep the army going.
Initiatives like the Etihad Challenge represent one small step in an ongoing journey – one that dates back over 100 years.
The young people involved aren’t expected to sign up but, more often than not, they come away from the challenge with a broader, more positive view of military service in this country. Service, of course, being the principal focus. The Army helps many people in a huge array of ways, and the missions the teens grew up associating with the Armed Forces represent a tiny portion of what we do.
The Army may not be for everyone, but there is a role for anyone who believes they have what it takes to contribute to our efforts around the world – no matter their faith.