Home » Army wants to relax security checks for overseas recruits to help growing staffing crisis – as top ex-officers describe the plan as ‘dangerous madness’

Army wants to relax security checks for overseas recruits to help growing staffing crisis – as top ex-officers describe the plan as ‘dangerous madness’

The British Army wants to relax security checks it runs on overseas recruits in an effort to solve the growing staffing crisis, a leaked document has revealed. 

Understood to be the latest guidance, the internal policy document leaked to the Telegraph, outlines a series of actions that aim to boost falling personnel numbers, and calls security clearance ‘the primary barrier to non-UK personnel gaining a commission in the Army.’

Vetting is a standard part of the process of becoming an officer in the British Army, and included counter-terrorism checks. 

Security clearance is described as being ‘the most common type of vetting process and determines that a person’s character and personal circumstances are such that they can be trusted to work in a position that involves long-term, frequent, and uncontrolled access to secret assets.’ 

The five-year period being a UK resident needed to gain security clearance was described as ‘prohibitive to overseas recruits’ applying for officer and intelligence roles. 

The leaked document noted that the Army ‘struggles to attract talent from ethnic minority backgrounds into the officer corps.’

The leaked document noted that the Army ‘struggles to attract talent from ethnic minority backgrounds into the officer corps’

Cadets line up for inspection during The Commandmants Parade at Sandhurst

Cadets line up for inspection during The Commandmants Parade at Sandhurst 

Figures from the Ministry of Defence show recruitment targets have been consistently missed in recent years

Figures from the Ministry of Defence show recruitment targets have been consistently missed in recent years

It said that while people from Commonwealth countries can serve in the British Army, just 131 officers from outside of British serve. 

Of these, just 28 are recorded as being from ethnic minority backgrounds, while the rest are white Irish or white Commonwealth.  

A group of former Army officials have since signed a letter to the UK’s defence minister, Grant Shapps, calling the updated policy ‘dangerous madness.’

The letter’s signatories, which include former Royal Marine’s head Lieutenant General Sir Henry Beverly and Major General Tim Cross, who was the highest-ranking British officer to be involved in the reconstruction of Iraq following the fall of Saddam Hussein, said: ‘The Russians, Iranians and Chinese will be observing our descent into self-hatred and obsessing over diversity and inclusion with glee. 

‘These intolerable policies are forcing the British Armed Forces into moral disarmament and it cannot stand.’

The Army has come under scrutiny for its inability to hire people at all levels of service. 

Outsourcing giant Capita, which is in charge of recruitment for the Army, recommended that it should ditch or loosen restrictions on hiring soldiers with tattoos and those with a history of asthma to solve its recruitment crisis. 

A top US general also warned that the UK's shrinking army is 'not what it used to be' (File image)

A top US general also warned that the UK’s shrinking army is ‘not what it used to be’ (File image) 

If the army keeps seeing a decline in troops at its current rate, the number of regular soldiers will drop to 67,741 by 2026, according to new analysis (File image)

If the army keeps seeing a decline in troops at its current rate, the number of regular soldiers will drop to 67,741 by 2026, according to new analysis (File image) 

The firm told a defence select committee inquiry into the recruitment of youngsters that many were waiting 150 days to join the Army, partly caused by the medical assessments they have to undertake. 

Its representatives told MPs that would-be recruits were being ‘attracted elsewhere’ as the time taken to be accepted was so long that they were finding other jobs in the meantime, amid ominous warnings that the Army, Navy and Marines are all ‘haemorrhaging’ troops faster than they can be recruited. 

A top US general also warned that the UK’s shrinking army is ‘not what it used to be.’ 

A former senior US general has said that while the UK was still seen as America’s closest ally, it was also seen as ‘having diminished capabilities over the past couple of decades’.

They added: ‘Hence, while being the most important ally across the board, it is decidedly not what it used to be, regrettably.’

Based on the current trends, the army will have just 52,000 troops in 10 years.

In a one year period up to September last year, the army’s strength plummeted from 79,139 to 75,983 as more soldiers left than started.

MailOnline has contacted the Ministry of Defence for comment.