FIJIAN RECRUITS MOST TROUBLESOME IN BRITISH ARMY

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By Solomoni Biumaiono

SUVA. Fiji (Fiji Times, August 24) – Fijians in the British Army head the list of foreign recruits who are creating discipline problems, reveals a leaked UK military document.

The report, allegedly linked to the UK Royal Logistics Corps director Brigadier Richard Rook, highlighted the attitude problems and the excessive expenses of Fiji recruits in the British Army.

According to the London DH News Service, many Fijian soldiers settle early and have families resulting in overheads to the army.

Brigadier Rook wrote, "I have heard a great deal of comment about the quantity, quality and administrative overheads associated with our F&C (Foreign and Commonwealth) soldiers. Most of this has been extremely negative."

Many Fijians are employed in the Royal Logistic Corps where "attitude" problems have emerged among those who are described as "idle" and unwilling to take orders from their fellow countrymen, the report said.

Problems have arisen with a second wave of recruits who join the army, then announce they are married and demand family quarters and schooling for their children.

Brigadier Rook adds that many complaints have been "well informed, balanced and entirely justified", but adds there is also a "bandwagon of concern" that could cause "a great deal of damage" to the Royal Logistics Corps.

But DH News says while defence experts in London admit there are problems with recruiting foreigners they say these are usually ironed out over time as the new recruits absorb the culture and ethos of the British Army.

British Servicemen Family Association president Romanu Naceva yesterday said the Fijian soldiers should be given more chance to mature into the life of the British Army.

"Many of these soldiers are still trying to find themselves and they should be allowed to mature," he said.

"I guess once they mature, they could turn out to be one of the best soldiers. We should give them at least three years," Mr Naceva said.

Mr Naceva, a former British Army Sergeant Major himself, said Fijians also faced a lot of difficulties when they were first recruited.

"During my time, we really had a hard time and back in those days, it was really hard for us but we managed to break it through years of military life," Mr Naceva said.

He also confirmed that he had received disciplinary reports about Fijian soldiers who are arrested by police and other cases as well.

Despite the reported problems, the British Army has acknowledged that it needs the help of foreign soldiers, including Fijian recruits, because it was overstretched and understaffed. Fijians were the first recruits from the Commonwealth who first helped to meet the manpower gap but they were followed by another 5000 recruits from other Commonwealth countries.

Fijians make up a substantial percentage of some 5000 troops of Commonwealth origin who have the same pay and prerequisites as British nationals and are entitled to permanent residence in the UK after four years of service.

British commanders who are under pressure to sustain the UK's military commitments in southern Iraq have said foreign recruits are vital for the efficient functioning of the British Army, which has a shortage of 3000 soldiers.

August 24, 2006

Fiji Times: http://www.fijitimes.com/

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