From tomorrows Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=445917&in_page_id=1770&in_a_source= Defence chiefs want to limit the number of Commonwealth troops in the Army to retain its "Britishness'. Their proposed quota system is causing uproar in the Ministry of Defence because it could be depicted as racism. Confidential papers prepared by the Army General Staff, headed by General Sir Richard Dannatt, suggest Commonwealth troops - mostly non-white - should be limited to 10 per cent of the 99,000 total. Senior lawyers have sounded private warnings that the department could be accused under the Race Relations Act. And other opponents point out the plan could deny the Army access to a pool of heroes. The latest soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross is Grenada-born Private Johnson Beharry, an armoured vehicle driver. In May 2004 he saved his comrades' lives in Iraq despite coming under intense fire and suffering serious head injuries. Race equality experts expressed 'surprise' at the plan. A spokeswoman for the Commission for Equality and Human Rights said: "If it is because they are trying to retain the Britishness of the Army it doesn't make any sense at all. "It certainly does not fit in with the policies of inclusiveness in British society that everyone keeps talking about." But Defence Secretary Des Browne is expected to receive a written report from the Army chiefs within the next fortnight asking him to endorse the Army plan. Until 1998, all Armed Forces applicants had to have lived in the UK for at least five years. After the Government removed that restriction, the Army received a flood of applications from Commonwealth countries. When Labour came to power in 1997 there were 300 Commonwealth soldiers in the British Army. Now, there are 6,600, stoking fears among Army chiefs that the "Britishness' of the Army will be lost. They propose to limit the number of troops from countries such as Fiji, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand and Australia to 9,000. The Commonwealth troops currently serving have taken their share of casualties. At least six have died in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. They include Pakistan-born Muslim Lance Corporal Jabron Hashmi, 24, from Birmingham, who died in a rocket-propelled-grenade attack last July. The casualties follow in a long line of sacrifices - an estimated 580,000 Commonwealth soldiers were killed or reported missing in action in the Second World War. Since then such soldiers have fought in many of the long line of smaller wars, up to the present day. Last night the quota plan came under fire for present day, rather than past considerations. It was slammed as 'crazy' at a time when the Army is 7,000 short of its target strength and facing a recruiting crisis with fewer British-born school leavers joining up. Tory Defence spokesman Mark Harper said: "It seems to be limiting our options at a time when we have such a shortfall in the Army and are struggling to recruit and retain British citizens. "The problem is the inability of the MoD to recruit British citizens, not the number of Commonwealth soldiers we are recruiting in itself. "The issue is the overstretch of the Army, where the current level of commitments is putting too much pressure on personnel and their families. "This is forcing people out of the Armed Forces, and forcing the MoD to recruit more from the Commonwealth." Work on lowering Commonwealth recruiting began under former Chief of the General Staff Sir Mike Jackson and has continued under his successor Sir Richard Dannatt. It was Sir Richard, who - soon after taking over last year - provoked controversy when he said the presence of UK armed forces in Iraq 'exacerbates the security problems', adding that British troops should 'get out some time soon'. Last night, senior Defence sources said that the main reason Army chiefs wanted to cap the number of Commonwealth troops was 'cultural'. One source said: "The main reason is this view of Britishness, ensuring that the norms and values of society are reflected in its armed forces. "For example, gender equality in Britain means that the dominant view is that women should have a role in the armed forces. It's different in other countries. "There are also practical issues, like, for example, a Fijian soldier getting killed in Iraq, keeping the family informed in Fiji and flying the body back to Fiji is logistically more difficult than dealing with people who live locally." The Army also has two battalions of Gurkhas. These 1,000 men are not affected by the quota proposals. An MoD spokeswoman said: "Any proposal to introduce a cap on the number of Commonwealth and Irish Citizens serving in the British Armed Forces would need to be agreed by the Secretary of State for Defence. "No such decision has been taken. The Army has a long and successful tradition of employing and integrating overseas personnel and we have no wish to discontinue this practice. "The Army is proud to recruit high-quality soldiers from countries with close historical and political ties. "Commonwealth and Irish soldiers make a huge contribution to the Army, including on active operational duty where many continue to perform with distinction and honour. "These soldiers bring a range of skills and talents which enrich the Service as a whole." The quota plan has also brought to the surface the row over soldiers who have served with the British Army having to pay the Â£300 exam fee if they want to become British citizens. Soldiers serving in sensitive areas such as the Special Forces or Signals are required to become citizens and have their exam fees paid for by the MoD. But all others have to fund themselves. Critics said that even though the MoD paid the Â£300 fee in such cases, it set Commonwealth troops apart from their comrades and questioned their loyalty. Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former infantry commander, said: "The covenant that our Commonwealth soldiers make with the nation is that they are prepared to pay in blood for their service. "So why on earth should they then be charged money for the privilege of being members of the nation they are prepared to die for?'