FOUR soldiers have been sacked in the space of a week for abusing drugs in a scandal that’s hit one of the area’s largest military HQs, The News can reveal.
The troops involved were part of 12 Regiment Royal Artillery, which is based at Baker Barracks on Thorney Island.
Their careers have now been left in tatters after they failed compulsory drugs test, with the army confirming they will all be discharged.
Officials from the British Army refused to reveal the ranks of the individuals involved, citing ‘data privacy rules’ but said the action sent out a firm message to others thinking of disgracing the military.
A spokeswoman added: ‘We can confirm that four service personnel from 12 Regiment Royal Artillery have failed a compulsory drugs test and will be discharged as a consequence.
‘The army does not tolerate drug abuse within its ranks as it is incompatible with military service and operational effectiveness.
‘The Ministry of Defence has a strict policy of compulsory drug testing, which reinforces the message that drug use is wholly unacceptable among service personnel.
‘This is a clear indication that for those within the military that do not adhere to its values and standards when caught will be dealt with accordingly.’
The regiment plays a critical role in offering close support air defence for military units on deployment.
It provides a range of roles, with some soldiers specialising as guided missile operators, responsible for directing deadly munitions with pinpoint accuracy.
It’s not known whether the sacked soldiers took drugs separate of each other or together at the same time.
However, the news of their dismissal has been welcomed by fellow troops at the base who were furious at the breach, which they say could have put lives at risk.
One insider, who has served more than a decade in the British Army but asked not to be named, said: ‘There is no place for drugs in a military environment.
‘How can you trust someone to watch your back when he might be off his face on drugs?
‘I think the services has it right – dismissal.’
The source initially claimed that as many as nine soldiers had been rapped for drug offences in the past week.
However, a spokeswoman from the army denied this and confirmed that only four soldiers had been caught and reprimanded.
Thorney Island is home to hundreds of soldiers and their families from both 12 Regiment Royal Artillery and 16 Regiment Royal Artillery.
Last year the army was accused of relaxing its drugs policy after it was revealed new recruits would not be dismissed if they were found to have used drugs within their first 14 weeks of training.
The rules came amid a chronic shortage of new personnel to the armed forces.
A spokesman at the time insisted there had been ‘no relaxation of the longstanding zero-tolerance policy on drug misuse’.
Trained soldiers are always discharged the first time they are found to have taken illegal drugs.