Tired UK Armed Forces personnel urged to take career breaks

Soldiers should be encouraged to take career breaks because the pace of Army life is leaving them exhausted, according to a recently retired colonel.

Tim Collins, best known for his inspirational eve-of-battle speech to troops in Iraq, said young soldiers needed lengthy periods away from Armed Forces life to maintain their hunger for the challenge.

The Army has offered six-month career breaks to staff since 2005 – but admits that very few are taken up due to fears about regaining skills, knowledge and respect.

Collins told Personnel Today: “People in the military are becoming exhausted by the pace of the life. We have two wars running and people are getting tired out. Soldiers now also achieve all the things they can imagine doing in two or three tours of duty, so become ready to leave earlier.”

Career breaks are vital to retain skilled soldiers at a time when the Armed Forces are stretched by their commitments, Collins added. “This is a way of people having time with their families and achieving goals in their family life,” he said.

The Ministry of Defence said it had no plans to encourage greater take-up of career breaks.

“All soldiers are made aware of the opportunity. It is up to them whether they choose to take it up or not,” said a spokesman.

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