£94m 'wasted' on young soldiers

Campaign groups have claimed the Ministry of Defence wastes up to £94 million a year training 16 and 17-year-old army recruits for roles which could be filled more cost-effectively by adults.

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Majority of recruits 'enjoy a great army career'

The Ministry of Defence has been accused of wasting almost £94 million a year by training teenagers for the army.

Colonel Bob Stewart, who served in Bosnia and is now an MP, told Daybreak "yes there's a cost for doing it" but that it was entirely beneficial. He said:

The vast majority absolutely love doing it and they go straight into the army and enjoy a great career.

Tory MP: Report needs to be examined carefully

Tory MP and former army officer Patrick Mercer has responded to a report stating that the army is wasting £94 million training young recruits, he said the report needed to be examined carefully.

I commanded 150 Junior Leaders in the 1980s, the majority of whom went on to be first class infantry soldiers.

However, social conditions, financial conditions and recruiting have all changed over the last couple of decades and if it now seems that junior entry soldiers are less than cost effective, the whole issue needs to be looked at.

– Patrick Mercer, Member of Parliament for Newark

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UK armed forces at risk of 'international isolation'

Campaign groups have warned that the UK is becoming "increasingly isolated" internationally in continuing to recruit people below the age of 18 into the armed forces.

A report by Child Soldiers International and ForcesWatch found:

  • It cost an estimated minimum of £88,985 to recruit and train each new soldier aged 16 to 17-and-a-half, compared with £42,818 for each adult recruit, including salary costs
  • Initial training for minors lasted either 23 or 50 weeks, depending on the recruit's trade, but enlisting adults could complete the phase one course in 14 weeks
  • The drop-out rate for minors was 36.6% compared with 28.3% for adults but under-18s who complete training are likely to serve for 10 years rather than the 7.6-year average for over-18s

£94 million a year is 'wasted on army recruits'

£94 million a year is 'wasted on training' by the MOD, campaign groups say Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The Ministry of Defence wastes up to £94 million a year training 16 and 17-year-old army recruits for roles which could be filled by adults, campaign groups have said.

According to a report by Child Soldiers International and ForcesWatch, it costs as much to train a 16-year-old as an 18-year-old.

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