Soldiers with chaotic pasts 'prone to abuse'

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Many members of the Armed Forces have "chaotic backgrounds" and lack morals when they join up, the former Army chief Lord Dannatt has said.

A lack of respect for others, in particular, could lead to outrages like the abuse of Iraqi citizens, he suggested.

"I think you've got to look at the proportion of people who come into the Armed Forces from chaotic backgrounds," he said. "People haven't had the same exposure to traditional values which previous generations did, so we feel it's important people have a moral baseline." As part of their annual training tests, soldiers must undertake a refresher in the "core values" of courage, integrity, respect, loyalty, discipline and selfless commitment, he said.

Without respect for others, he warned, "that's when you're into bullying or abusing Iraqi citizens".

Lord Dannatt, head of the Army from 2006 to 2009, was speaking on the sidelines of a lecture by Armed Forces Bishop Stephen Venner at the Royal United Services Institute. He took his seat in the House of Lords in January.