British Army Seeks To Recruit More Muslim Troops

More must be done to recruit soldiers from ethnic minorities and in particular the Muslim community, the Head of the British Army has admitted.

General Sir Nicholas Carter, who took up the role of Chief of the General Staff last year, said that ethic minority representation in the military is "nowhere near where it needs to be".

"We have to do more. My highest priority is ensuring we continue to have the best possible talent throughout our Army," he said.

Figures released by the Ministry of Defence reveal there are only 480 Muslims serving in Army.

That is only 0.54% of the total regular force of 88,500. Moreover, not all of those Muslims are British - some joined from Commonwealth countries.

Overall, all ethnic minorities - including black, Asian, Sikh, Hindu and Fijian people - make up less than 10% of the force.

The military's Islamic Religious Advisor welcomed General Carter's comments.

"In my view, the values of the Armed Forces are fully compatible with the values of Islam as well as other faiths," said Imam Asim Hafiz.

"Anybody wishing to pursue a career in the Services, Regular or Reserve, and is prepared to work hard can be assured of a very rewarding experience."

Senior figures in the military and Ministry of Defence recognise that conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to negative perceptions of the military in Muslim communities.

General Carter wants that to change through closer interaction and engagement with ethnic minority communities.

"Our recruitment from the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities has been improving over the years, but it is nowhere near where it needs to be," General Carter said.

"The values and standards we espouse resonate closely with these communities and there is much common ground that we can build on to broaden our recruitment base."

To that end, the Army has launched an Armed Forces Muslim Forum to bring military and civil communities together.

It is also working to create a Muslim Peace Garden to commemorate Muslims killed in the armed forces.

Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker MP, said: "It is essential that the UK Armed Forces reflect the communities they serve, and that they are more representative of modern Britain.

"The forces must accelerate the recruitment and retention of personnel from ethnic minorities, and need to work more closely with leading community groups from across the UK to advance this."