Thursday, June 13, 2024

This is an ARCHIVED article at Information and links may well be out of date.

A recent Daily Mail story says "Army calls on foreign fighters to bolster our forces... Two hundred foreign fighters a year will be able to join Britain's Armed Forces in a desperate bid to make up for 'perilous' manpower shortages."

But as the "foreign fighters" label generally applies to the likes of Daesh, we think it's unacceptable - and frankly ignorant - to apply it to British armed forces recruits and, by extension, to those of Commonwealth nationality or origin who are already serving in many branches of our country's armed forces.

Many of these servicemen and women have served our country on operations: some are serving on operations now.

Of course the story turns out to about the Minister of State's announcement on 12 May about waiving the 5-year UK residency requirement for up to 200 Commonwealth recruits, selected to fill a limited number of roles in the Regular Armed Forces which require specialist skills.

The figure of 200 is tiny in relation to the total intake (13,800 to the Regular Army in the year to March 2016). The 5-year residency rule was previously waived for all Commonwealth recruits from 1998 to July 2013, so the latest change is not such a dramatic departure.

While we appreciate that immigration and recruitment are both newsworthy subjects right now, we'd be grateful if the term "foreign fighter" was not used again in relation to potential or current members of Her Majesty's Forces.