Battle lines drawn as Australia poaches UK military talent

This summer’s Ashes series on the cricket pitch is not the only battleground where the UK is taking on Australia.

Tension is set to rise between the British and their antipodean cousins after the Australian Army launched a recruitment drive offering British soldiers the chance to sign up for service Down Under.

The move is likely to cause controversy after the government admitted that the UK Army would struggle to meet recruitment targets this year because of its ‘negative portrayal’ in the media. Junior defence minister Lord Dyson said that the target of recruiting and training 2,835 infantry soldiers in 2005-2006 was unlikely to be met.

The Australian Army package includes free flights for families, and accommodation and relocation expenses for those prepared to sign up for at least four years.

The Australian Army wants to lure up to 300 experienced British soldiers each year to inject youth into its ranks, which have an average age of 30.

A team of officers visited London earlier this month to vet potential recruits, specifically looking for soldiers with skills that are in short supply, such as helicopter crews and intelligence specialists.

Colonel Mike Milford, the Australian Army’s director of personnel, said he had already received scores of written enquiries from British military personnel keen to emigrate.

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