Foreigners who have never lived in the UK 'will be free to join Army' to tackle recruitment crisis
Foreigners who have never lived in the UK will be free to join the Armed Forces in a bid to tackle a major recruitment crisis, the Government is to announce.
The Ministry of Defence will scrap a rule that Commonwealth citizens can only join the military if they have lived in the UK for five years, according to the Daily Telegraph.
A personnel shortage is gripping the Forces, with a shortfall of 8,200, according to the National Audit Office - the worst shortage since 2010.
Military chiefs hope to recruit an extra 1,300 extra personnel from places like Australia, India, Canada, Kenya and Fiji after the rule change, which is set to be announced today, takes effect.
Hopefuls from outside the Commonwealth - barring the special arrangements for the Gurkhas from Nepal and people from the Republic of Ireland - will still have to apply for British citizenship before they can join up.
The change will replace a 2016 rule that allows some 200 Commonwealth citizens who have lived in the UK for less than five years to sign up for a limited number of jobs.
Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster told the paper: “As an outward-looking nation, Britain has always counted on the dedicated service of our friends from the Commonwealth to keep this country safe.
“From Australia to Jamaica, to Fiji and South Africa, Commonwealth recruits are already playing a key role in our Armed Forces.
“We’re stepping up the numbers of recruits from the Commonwealth, knowing that they will bring key skills and dedicated service to our military."
But Tory MP Mark Francois, who sits on the Defence Select Committee, lashed out at the Government for outsourcing recruitment to private firm Capita.
“According to evidence given recently to the Defence Committee, the army will be lucky to achieve 50% of its recruiting figures this year,” he told the Telegraph.
“The Army is disappearing before our eyes and will continue to do so until Capita are sacked."