Australia looks to British sailors facing cuts

27th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Australia's military is looking to recruit foreign troops, particularly those laid-off in Britain where the government has announced cutbacks on defence spending, a report said Tuesday.

The Australian Defence Force has struggled to fill recruitment quotas and was seeking highly skilled specialists such as fighter pilots and submarine crews from overseas, The Australian newspaper said.

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) recently sent a delegation to Britain to look into the possibility of recruiting recently retrenched sailors, it added.

The Australian Defence Force, which is facing competition for personnel -- particularly engineers -- due to the nation's lucrative mining boom, confirmed that talks had taken place with British officials.

"The Royal Australian Navy has been in talks with the Royal Navy about this possibility and that obviously will depend on those personnel meeting the Royal Australian Navy's requirements," a spokesman told AFP.

He did not comment on whether the military, which has some 1,550 troops in Afghanistan, was prepared to fast-track Australian citizenship for foreign recruits as reported by The Australian.

The development comes after British Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled eight percent cuts to the armed forces budget and set out plans to reduce the size of the army, navy and air force by 17,000 troops.

The report in The Australian said Australian navy chief Ray Griggs had assured his British counterpart that Canberra would not recruit personnel the British needed to maintain their capabilities.

The Australian Defence Force was also looking to other western countries, including the United States, Canada and New Zealand, to build up personnel, particularly for its submarine crews, the newspaper added.

On its website, the Australian Defence Force says it "looks to overseas candidates to fill gaps in our services that can't currently be satisfied by standard recruitment."

It said its navy recruitment programme was aimed at "serving or immediately ex-serving officers and sailors of foreign naval forces (not greater than three years since separation from military service) with specific qualifications and/or experience that is directly transferable to the RAN."

© 2011 AFP

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