THE United Kingdom (UK) armed forces have thrown its door open to citizens of Commonwealth nations to be enlisted into the armed forces, according to reports from the BBC.
In a bid to address the shortfall in the numerical strength of the UK armed forces, the Ministry of Defence intends to recruit more servicemen and women to the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
The armed forces are short of 8,200 soldiers, sailors and air personnel, a report found earlier this year reveals.
Ministers are expected to announce the change to recruitment rules today. It is hoped the changes will lead to an extra 1,350 people being recruited every year.
Currently, only 200 Commonwealth citizens per year can apply without having lived in the UK for five years. It is the worst shortage since 2010 said the independent government watchdog, the National Audit Office.
It means people from Commonwealth countries including Nigeria, Australia, Kenya, Fiji and Ghana amongst others will be considered for roles, even if they have never lived in Britain before.
A rule introduced in 2016 already allows 200 Commonwealth citizens who have not met the requirement of living in the UK for five years to apply for a limited number of jobs every year.
The five-year UK residency requirement for Commonwealth recruits was first waived in 1998, before being reintroduced in 2013.
According to the Daily Telegraph, which first published details of the plan in Monday’s paper, the air force and navy will begin recruiting immediately and the Army will open applications early next year.
Applications from citizens of countries outside the Commonwealth will not be accepted, the paper adds. Citizens of Ireland and also Gurkhas from Nepal can already join because of special rules.
April’s National Audit Office report also said there were “much larger shortfalls” in the number of military engineers, pilots and intelligence analysts.
It said the armed forces were involved in 25 operations worldwide in 2016-17 – and the air force is undertaking more missions than it has for a quarter of a century.
And a Conservative MP’s report in July 2017 on the state of Army recruitment warned that the armed forces were “hollowing out” due to recruitment issues.