5000 UK troops 'unfit' for battle

Some 5,000 soldiers and officers are unfit to fight on the frontline, figures obtained by the Conservatives revealed. Skip related content

They are unable to deploy for combat duties because of physical or mental injury or illness, a lack of fitness, or non-medical reasons, according to the Ministry of Defence data.

A number of cases included troops aged under 18, pregnant soldiers, those excused from combat duties on compassionate grounds and personnel facing disciplinary action.

The MoD said some of those classed as not fully deployable could still work on the frontline, providing suitable medical support was available in theatre.

Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, who obtained the figures in a Parliamentary written answer, told the BBC: “To have 20% of the infantry unfit for the duties they are primarily employed and trained for is quite a staggering figure.

“This reflects the long-term effect of sustained operations, and it’s worth remembering the Government may pay for extra ammunition and other costs of operations, but they don’t fund the recruitment and training of personnel to replace those who are left unfit for combat.”

Shadow Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said: “The infantry is the tip of the spear of the conventional Army. This is the same sad story resulting from a decade of Labour’s neglect of our Armed Forces and there is no sign of improvement. This situation is not sustainable.”

An Army spokeswoman said: “All units deploy at the required strength for the tasks they are asked to fulfil during their operational tour. The majority of those classed as medically non-deployable are fit enough to work in some capacity and therefore continue to make a contribution to the effectiveness of the Armed Forces.”

The Ministry of Defence is looking at whether some servicemen and women injured so seriously they cannot return to the front line could be discharged on medical grounds. However, officials said they would attempt to place wounded personnel in alternative Army roles where possible.

The Army spokeswoman said: “As well as outstanding clinical care the Ministry Of Defence provides a comprehensive range of welfare support to the injured and, recognising the vital role they play in recovery, their families. We have made many positive changes over recent years but we are continuing to look for ways to improve the support we offer.”

Source: Press Association

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