Britain To Recruit Foreigners Into Armed Forces

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Foreign nationals will be eligible to join the armed forces in greater numbers, ministers will announce, as British residency requirements for service are set to be scrapped.

Currently, citizens from Commonwealth countries can only join if they have lived in the United Kingdom for five years.

"We have now chose to remove the five-year United Kingdom residency criterion for Commonwealth citizens and increase recruitment to 1,350 across the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force (RAF)", the MoD statement reads.

Rules requiring Commonwealth citizens to have lived in the United Kingdom for five years before applying for service were previously lifted in 2016 for some specialist roles including metalsmiths and medical technicians, with the number capped at 200 annually across the Army, Royal Navy, and RAF.

Mark Francois, a member of the defence select committee, told the Telegraph: 'Foreign and Commonwealth troops have historically been important and valued sources of recruitment for the British Army and I welcome the recruitment limit increase'.

In recent years, the Armed Forces has had more than 7500 Commonwealth citizens in its ranks, with a wide variety of countries represented, including Fiji, Ghana, South Africa, Jamaica, Australia and St Vincent.

In 2016 the five year residency requirement was waived to allow for 200 Commonwealth citizens with specialist skills apply for a limited number of roles.

The nearly unparalleled news comes amid a litany of reports which say that the UK's armed forces are finding it very hard to recruit enough service personnel to fill vacant positions.

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The plan comes as the army faces a personnel shortfall.

The Armed Forces is short of 8,200 soldiers, sailors and air personnel, a report found earlier this year.

MPs said the move highlighted a crisis in recruitment, taking aim at Capita, the business service provider that runs the army's recruitment campaign.

Concern was also raised in April's National Audit Office report that there were "much larger shortfalls" in the number of engineers, pilots and intelligence analysts.

And a Conservative MP's report in July 2017 warned that the armed forces were "hollowing out" due to recruitment issues.

However it was criticised for failing to target those most interested in joining the forces.

Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan said at the time that the campaign, "reflects the fact that the army, like the rest of government, is being forced down a route of political correctness".

Francois recommended that attempts be made to attract more black, Asian and minority ethnic recruits, as well as getting more women to join. "It's of secondary importance that they reflect the composition of society".

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