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Foreign nationals to be allowed into armed forces without having lived in UK

An RAF Tornado taxi's to the threshold before taking-off. Four Royal Air Force Tornado's took off this morning from RAF Akrotiri to conduct strikes in support of Operations over the Middle East. The Tornados, flown by 31 Squadron the Goldstars, were supported by a Voyager aircraft. At 0200 UK time on 14 April, British forces joined close Allies in a precision strike on Syrian installations involved in the use of chemical weapons. The UK element of the carefully coordinated joint action was contributed by four Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s. They launched Storm Shadow missiles at a military facility ? a former missile base ? some fifteen miles west of Homs, where the regime is assessed to keep chemical weapon precursors stockpiled in breach of Syria?s obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. Very careful scientific analysis was applied to determine where best to target the Storm Shadows to maximise the destruction of the stockpiled chemicals and to minimise any risks of contamination to the surrounding area. The facility which was struck is located some distance from any known concentrations of civilian habitation, reducing yet further any such risk.

By Sam Blewett, Press Association

Foreign nationals will be eligible to join the armed forces in greater numbers, ministers will announce, as British residency requirements for service are set to be scrapped.

The Ministry of Defence will remove the need for Commonwealth citizens to have lived in the UK for five years before applying for service, it will be announced on Monday.

An extra 1,350 personnel from overseas are hoped to be enlisted to the the Navy, Army and Air Force every year.

The move comes as the armed forces struggle to recruit enough personnel to fill a shortfall in their ranks.

Applicants from nations including India, Australia, Canada and Fiji will be considered for all roles in the forces, without having lived in the UK.

Until now, they had to have resided in Britain for five years and their recruitment was capped at a maximum of 200 per year.

The Army will begin the admissions from early next year, while the Navy and RAF will commence the process immediately.

Other than the Nepalese Gurkhas and applicants from the Republic of Ireland who can enrol under a special arrangement, those from outside the Commonwealth will still need British citizenship to apply.

In April, a National Audit Office report said the full-time military was running at a 5.7% shortfall.

An extra 8,200 regulars and 2,400 engineers were needed to fill the "largest gap in a decade", the report added, while intelligence analysts and pilots were also in demand.

The public spending watchdog is carrying out a review of army recruitment, including the contract with outsource firm Capita.

Critics have called for Capita to be stripped of its contract over forces staffing shortfalls.

In January the Army unveiled a recruitment advertising campaign reported to have cost £1.6 million.

It intended to encourage more people from different backgrounds, genders, sexualities and faiths to join up.

However it was criticised for failing to target those most interested in joining the forces.

Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said the main group of people considering signing up are more worried about "how they are going to face combat".

He added: "This also reflects the fact that the Army, like the rest of Government, is being forced down a route of political correctness.

"What is most important is that the Army recruits and is full of soldiers. It's of secondary importance that they reflect the composition of society."