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Soldiers apprehensive of career in armed forces

Written by: Staff

London, Apr 13 (UNI) With many Britons apprehensive of a carrier in the armed forces, the number of foreign nationals in the country's army has risen to ten per cent, according to government figures.

The Armed Forces, in order to overcome a shortage of home-grown applicants had recruited 6,460 foreign nationals in the Army last year, compared with under 300, eight years ago. The new ''foreign legion'' is drawn from 54 countries, mainly in the Commonwealth.

The Army further recruited 3,000 Gurkhas from Nepal, bringing the total number of foreigners to almost 10,000. That represents almost 10 per cent of its strength, which stood at 101,140 in January.

Defence Secretary John Reid, has admitted that high employment levels and worries about Iraq and the controversial deaths of young soldiers at Deepcut Barracks, in Surrey, have made it much more difficult to persuade young people to consider a career in the Armed Forces.

Meanwhile, Fiji is the single biggest source of overseas troops, with 1,965 Fijians currently serving in the British Army.

Jamaica is the second biggest supplier, with 975 troops serving, followed by South Africa with 650. The tiny Caribbean island of St Lucia, which has a population of just over 150,000, provides 220 troops.

Despite the high calibre of the recruits, there is concern that the Army is becoming too dependent on foreigners to plug gaps in the ranks.

''This may be a short-term fix but many people will wonder if it is prudent in the long-term,'' Shadow Defence secretary, Liam Fox said.


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