A RELAXING of rules on recruiting foreign troops for Britain’s armed forces has been welcomed by a former military commander.
Foreign nationals will be allowed to join the nation’s military despite never having lived in the country, ministers are due to announce next week.
It will mean there will no longer be a requirement for those joining the armed forces from Commonwealth countries, like Canada, Fiji, Kenya, Australia and India to have lived in the UK for five years.
The policy is being seen as a key stepping stone in plugging the recruitment crisis which continues to blight the nation’s military.
Currently, only 200 Commonwealth citizens per year can apply without having lived in the UK for five years.
Under the new measure, hundreds more recruits will now be considered immediately for the Royal Navy and the RAF, with applications due to open for the British Army at some point next year.
Lieutenant Colonel Chris Parker, ex chief of staff of the legendary Desert Rats, served alongside Common Wealth soldiers when he commanded the 8,000-strong 7th Armoured Brigade in Iraq in 2005.
The army officer, who grew up in Cowplain, told The News the new rules were a positive step forward. He said: ‘I do believe this is a good thing. I think people in the military community would not batter an eyelid at this.’
He added that during his time leading the Desert Rats in Iraq, his troops worked alongside soldiers from five different nationalities – and all brought beneficial skills on operations.
Lt Col Parker, who is the chairman of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment Association – which looks after hundred of Hampshire soldiers – said: ‘I believe in a globalised world and there could be great advantages to having people from different cultures with different dialects in the military.’
Currently the UK military is 8,200 soldiers, sailors and air personnel short, a report found this year – the worst shortage since 2010.
According to the Daily Telegraph, which first published details, applications from citizens of countries outside the Commonwealth will not be accepted, with an exception for those in Ireland and Gurkhas from Nepal