'Ill-educated, unfit' troops on front lines

Unfit soldiers with a reading age of 11 are being used as frontline troops because of a shortage of manpower, a report on the training of the armed forces said yesterday.

Raw recruits were failing basic training tests, with swimming tests being failed because recruits lacked swimming pools to train in, the report for the Ministry of Defence by Brigadier Mungo Melvin said.

Instructors were under pressure to pass as many candidates as possible and "quality was often sacrificed to quantity", Brigadier Melvin said.

Seventy per cent of the 2003 intake at the Army's Catterick training camp had a reading age of 11, he said. There were also problems with heavy drinking among some recruits.

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