5 December 2005 GARETH HITS TA RECRUITS By Chris Hughes DAVID Brent's sidekick Gareth Keenan is damaging the image of the Territorial Army and hitting recruitment, military chiefs claim. Now top brass are using the bumbling character from hit TV show The Office in MoD briefings as an example of how volunteers should not behave. Millions of TV fans have squirmed while watching anorak Gareth (played by Mackenzie Crook) recount exaggerated tales of bravery and close combat as a weekend soldier. But officials say the portrayal is putting people off joining - along with the risk of getting shot or blown up in Iraq. Membership is at its lowest level since 1999, with 5,400 places unfilled. An Army insider said: "It's not going to have as major an effect on recruitment as Iraq and the prospect of getting killed but it doesn't help. "Of course the TA has always been a vital part of the team and they are very good and reliable. "But you wonder whether there are a few, and the Gareth image isn't far off the mark, who go back to their girlfriends after a TA weekend and talk about it as if they'd done two years in 'Nam." The MoD said yesterday: "The Gareth character from The Office has featured in an internal presentation for officials as an example of public perceptions of the TA."