Become British or be sacked, Commonwealth troops are told

#1
Become British or be sacked, Commonwealth troops are told
By Andrew Alderson and Sean Rayment
(Filed: 21/11/2004)

Hundreds of Commonwealth troops working in sensitive positions in the Armed Forces have been ordered to adopt British nationality or lose their jobs, The Telegraph can reveal.

The ultimatum from the Ministry of Defence has angered the estimated 8,000 Commonwealth servicemen serving in the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

They are incensed that their loyalty is being questioned after years of risking their lives for Britain in war zones....

Andy McNab, the former SAS soldier turned best-selling novelist, said he was appalled at the test. "There are other security vetting systems to filter out potential spies or terrorists," he said.

"My first squadron major in the Regiment [SAS] was a Fijian and to question his loyalty would be ridiculous."

All service personnel are vetted and must sign the Official Secrets Act. Those involved in sensitive work may also undergo "developed vetting" - the process for recruiting MI5 agents.

Patrick Mercer, the Tory shadow minister for homeland security, said: "The security aspects are nonsensical. Why would any al-Qaeda 'sleeper' who has bothered to get himself into the Armed Forces blanch at this extra piece of bureaucracy?"

The Queen is certain to have private concerns about the move if, as likely, it causes alarm among serving Commonwealth soldiers and their governments...
Full story at http://www.opinion.telegraph.co.uk/...ml&sSheet=/portal/2004/11/21/ixportaltop.html
 
#2
Hackle has covered the relevant points - I'll say no more other than that I never had a really insubordinate moment in almost a quarter of a century's service but that this idea has put me into the awkward pensioner's squad straight away. It is so stupid I cannot see it as an intentional insult so wonder at the mentality of those behind it. Are people such as this supposed to take us to war and risk other people's lives? I seem to remember that the last guy we lost had a long and certainly different name - if you are not Fijian. I suppose the new (dual) nationality certificates will only register them as Smith, Jones or Brown so no one will know we have those not-to-be-trusted Commonwealth blokes working for us.
This, on top of the admission that hunting ban was part of class struggle, leads me to ask "where is the barricade?" and "Where can I get a weapon?". I do not wish to wait for the democratic process of voting these bstards out, they don't have any idea of democracy - I want them out NOW!
 
#3
It's utterly disgraceful, given the number of Commonwealth lives lost - and still being lost with the Black Watch - in defence of UK interests. It's also an insult to the memory of guys like Labalaba, one of many Fijians who fought with distinction in the SAS. There are almost 8000 Commonwealth soldiers, sailors and airmen in the forces. Where would we be without them? Where would Bliar's interventionist policy be without them? Even if only a few are affected by this latest edict, it's a slur on all.:twisted:
 
#4
I must be missing something here. How did this rate in the paper as a story. There have always been Commonwealth troops in the Brit army and visa-versa. I was one of them. During Vietnam there were hundreds of Brits serving in the Aussie Army. Signing up to be a Brit citizen is not an issue because you also retain your country of origin citizenship as well and indeed can hold two passports (very handy at times).

The security thing is so shallow as to be a joke so there must be some other reason for the MOD to raise it. More distraction from the Sand Pit?

And by the way why do they focus on the Armed Forces. The NHS regularly recruits from O/S as does the Dept of Education. Probably others too.
 
#5
Given the situation with the Gurkha's I now wonder will this affect their claim to British Nationality and citizenship, anyone hot on immigration Law care to comment?

Beebs
 
#6
How stupid is this? We won't let the Gurkha's in, and we left a couple of thousand Hong Kong based soldiers to the Chinese, but now this?

On the plus side, a few home grown regts might be competitive at rugby 7's again :wink:
 
#7
I remember sharing a room with a Fijian called Vosataki and working with a good few more in the 70's as well as Sikhs, Muslims and Southern Irish. No one every felt that they were potential spies, terrorists or IRA sleepers, even when the the troubles were at its hight. This type of stupidness is what 9/11's real result is. The West running round in circles....

It was disgraceful that as a Fijian Commonwealth soldier, Labalaba only got a MiD in Oman while serving with the SAS. He should have got a MM at least (even a VC) for what he did. I wonder if it would have been differant had he been British I wonder?
 
#8
Mike_2817 said:
It was disgraceful that as a Fijian Commonwealth soldier, Labalaba only got a MiD in Oman while serving with the SAS. He should have got a MM at least (even a VC) for what he did. I wonder if it would have been differant had he been British I wonder?
Thre things went against Labalaba. He was Fijian, he was fighting in a war the MoD wanted to keep shtum about at the time, and he was part of a unit the "green" army looked down on to some extent. Hereford only became flavour of the month after the Iranian embassy siege and Maggie's patronage. Lesser actions and sacrifice have earned the VC.
 
#9
What about the Irish and other EU citizens, who have certain rights that the Commonwealth do not?

This is a disgrace. If the vetting regime is dependant upon a field in a box being changed to "British" from something else, it is fundamentally unsound!
 
#10
claymore said:
Mike_2817 said:
It was disgraceful that as a Fijian Commonwealth soldier, Labalaba only got a MiD in Oman while serving with the SAS. He should have got a MM at least (even a VC) for what he did. I wonder if it would have been differant had he been British I wonder?
Thre things went against Labalaba. He was Fijian, he was fighting in a war the MoD wanted to keep shtum about at the time, and he was part of a unit the "green" army looked down on to some extent. Hereford only became flavour of the month after the Iranian embassy siege and Maggie's patronage. Lesser actions and sacrifice have earned the VC.
Fine man, and he is remembered where it counts.... VC or no VC

Yes Oman was not reported much in the UK at the time, but Capt Keely was later awarded the DSO plus a DCM & two MC's were also awarded to other BATT members

http://britains-smallwars.com/Desert_song/Mirbat.htm

The defenders of Mirbat should have been highly decorated for their actions on that day, but because the British Government did not want to expose their involvement in Dhofar, the awards were not announced until 3 years after the battle. Capt Kealy was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and two of this men a Military Cross apiece. Trooper Tobin was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal and Sgt. Labalaba was also posthumously Mentioned in Dispatches. Sadly Major Mike Kealy died of exposure during an SAS exercise on the Brecon Beacons in February  1979.
Sgt. Talaiasi Labalaba - BEM & MiD
B Squadron 22nd. Special Air Service Regiment.
17th. July 1972
Lest we Forget
 
#11
Makes a commonwealth citizen wonder why he would pledge allegiance to the Queen, when you can't even fight for her anymore without becoming British...nice way to alienate the colonial ties even further.
 
#12
Birdie_Numnums said:
I must be missing something here. How did this rate in the paper as a story. There have always been Commonwealth troops in the Brit army and visa-versa. I was one of them. During Vietnam there were hundreds of Brits serving in the Aussie Army. Signing up to be a Brit citizen is not an issue because you also retain your country of origin citizenship as well and indeed can hold two passports (very handy at times).

The security thing is so shallow as to be a joke so there must be some other reason for the MOD to raise it. More distraction from the Sand Pit?

And by the way why do they focus on the Armed Forces. The NHS regularly recruits from O/S as does the Dept of Education. Probably others too.
Interesting BN that you are not nearly so concerned as the others who have commented. I suspect a lot of us were concerned not so much about the practical effect of the changes, more about the implication that Commonwealth citizens serving in the British forces somehow have a second class brand of loyalty.

As the saying goes, we would be "speaking German now" but for the loyalty and valour shown by people from across the Commonwealth in two world wars.

However, the recent changes have had some real impact, see the separate thread about a Canadian citizen who wants to join the British Army and having started the enlistment process may have run foul of new residence requirements.
 
#14
This, to me, is also very bizarre.

I had to fight to GET my British passport. Further, there are a number of incidents where CW soldiers got nothing out of serving, but the boot!

particularly remember a Jamacian para who was given the heave ho after the Falklands, but saved after a newspaper campaign.

My understanding of this little gem is that under current EU legislation there is a restriction on "third party country nationals" signing up for any EU National Army.

I could be wrong, but i believe this is part and parcel of the EU campaign to bring Military recruiting and manning under the centralise control of Brussels.
 
#15
Plastic Yank said:
This, to me, is also very bizarre.

I had to fight to GET my British passport. Further, there are a number of incidents where CW soldiers got nothing out of serving, but the boot!

particularly remember a Jamacian para who was given the heave ho after the Falklands, but saved after a newspaper campaign.

My understanding of this little gem is that under current EU legislation there is a restriction on "third party country nationals" signing up for any EU National Army.

I could be wrong, but i believe this is part and parcel of the EU campaign to bring Military recruiting and manning under the centralise control of Brussels.
Interesting, PY, any source for this apart from the Telegraph opinion piece posted by tomahawk6 in the "EU Army" thread? I dont know, but somehow I suspect another "straight banana" anti-EU hoax. If it is true, how would it affect the Foreign Legion? Also, the new citizenship requirement is supposed to apply only to those needing DV, cant see that being anything to do with Brussels.
 
#16
I've said it before and I'll say it again:

If the DV process depends on a box being filled in "UK Citizen" instead of "Commonwealth Wherever" it is fundamentally flawed!
 
#17
Has anyone one thought of national caveats, such as UK or UK/US eyes only? You've got to be UK national to see certain stuff. The US for example won't want non-UK personnel seeing UK/US EO stuff. I've known commonwealth officers working on attachment to UK forces having to get special dispensations to do the job. Related to this, certain JSPs and other mil publications have guidance for what clearances and access rights to PM material that Gurkha soldiers can have. It is a real issue, though I doubt anyone is questioning individual loyalty, it's just a reality of life.

I agree that this looks like its been badly handled, but I wouldn't necessarily blame the govt for having to do something to sort the problem. I think sacking is an exaggeration of what will be necessary, but certainly people may find that they can't get postings they wanted.
 
#18
hackle said:
Interesting, PY, any source for this apart from the Telegraph opinion piece posted by tomahawk6 in the "EU Army" thread? I dont know, but somehow I suspect another "straight banana" anti-EU hoax.


well i couldn't possibly comment,,,,,,, however, after a wee dram and chat with matey who just left the ARRC, this was definitely an impression i was given.

If it is true, how would it affect the Foreign Legion?
Don't know, but i shall do some digging (hey who needs to work).

Also, the new citizenship requirement is supposed to apply only to those needing DV, cant see that being anything to do with Brussels.

Ah, well, not entirely true that. A certain member of this forum, who is attempting to join up (from my olde neck of the woods) has been having a problem, due to his current nationality. When i joined, as long as you did so to the ranks it was not a problem. However, said member, is being told that all foreignors (sic - CW) are now being told, and i quote:

"With Immediate effect, ALL candidates are now required to reside in the UK for a period of time before an application can be considered, to enable ...a full security check."

as i said, before, you rocked up to recruiter and said "I fancy being cannon-fodder" and they sign you up there and then.

Now, this delay may not seem a problem, until you remember that Immigation has now made it almost impossible for CW citizens to say in the UK for any real length of time, unless on Holidays (this of course does not apply to EU citizens). If they are found to work, they get the boot. I can hear the clattering of many pints on the bar and the cry of "so why the f*ck are all these Ozzies serving me my pint?" Well, you will probably find that most of them are hear on the grandparent rule.

And how long is this new waiting period - 2 YEARS! For a DV check! Boll ix!

I arrived in May and was at Buller Barracks by July.
 
#19
Its a bl**dy disgrace. I remember growing up as a barrack brat, and being so close to the Fijian family next door, that we quite naturally referred to them as uncle Atoo & auntie Selica. Their son Jesse was my best mate for years. He also went on to serve this country faithfully, but he is still a Fijian, and if he was still serving, would not want to give up his heritage I'm sure.

It makes my blood boil! :x
 
#20
Whilst I agree that this is as badly handled a press release as I can remember, and would also agree that it is a disgraceful way for the government of this country to treat CW members of our armed forces, I would draw your attention to a pretty important, and so far un-noted detail.

Namely that this whole shoddy policy is being pushed through by a government who have been shoving human rights down our throats for the last 7 years. A government who, in the name of equality, have just burdened the police with a piece of paper which will, (in the polices opinion, and mine too), decrease their efficiency. This policy requires them to fill in paperwork for every single person they stop.

Now, I'm no lawyer, but it doesn't sound to me like the government is treating current, or potential future, CW forces personnel with anything like the kind of equality or rights they demand that other arms of public service, (not to mention you and I!) are required to treat them.

An inconsistency perhaps? An exploitable inconsistency? Any lawyers out there? I await your replies with interest. :twisted:
 

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