Half of British armed forces want to quit

July 10th, 2008 - 12:18 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 10 (IANS) Nearly half of the soldiers and officers of the British armed forces have considered quitting more than once due to poor pay and morale, a new study has revealed. The defence ministry carried out this survey for the first time and found over 47 percent saying they came to near quitting because they were paid less and their morale was low on account of poor equipment and transportation and extended foreign duties.

The survey comes at a time when the government is already facing flak for its military commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq and the rising body count in those countries. The survey now shows the soldiers and officers are under extreme stress and are unhappy.

Many of those questioned highlighted the pressures of fighting on two fronts, while 45 percent said they were not happy with the level of separation from friends and family. Some 38 percent said the short gaps between tours of duty made them more likely to leave the forces.

In the army, nearly three-fifths of those questioned rated the level of morale as “low” or “very low”, although individuals said their personal morale level was high. In the Royal Air Force (RAF), three-quarters thought morale was low, compared with 64 percent in the Royal Navy and 38 percent in the Royal Marines.

The survey was carried out between July and October last year - a time when more than 30 personnel died in the two main combat zones. Since then the casualty rate has remained high, particularly in Afghanistan.

Armed Forces Minister Derek Twigg told The Guardian: “Since the survey was conducted we have already implemented a number of important changes, such as the recent pay rise, an adjustment to the operational bonus and the introduction of childcare vouchers. Over the next 10 years, we are also spending 8.4 billion pounds ($17 billion) on accommodation, an area that is a high priority.”

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