Armed Forces: Manpower

Defence written question – answered on 13th March 2007.

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Photo of Nick Harvey Nick Harvey Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many soldiers from each country of the Commonwealth are employed in the Forces, broken down by (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force.

Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Veterans)

The most recent data available for the nationality of Commonwealth personnel serving in the UK regular forces are shown in the following table.

Country Naval Service at 6 October 2006 Army at 1 January 2007 Royal Air Force( 1) at 6 March 2006
Total Commonwealth 37,990 106,130 48,650
United Kingdom 37,535 99,495 48,445
Antigua (2)
Australia 10 70 10
Bangladesh (2) 5
Barbados (2) 10 (2)
Belize 5
Botswana 10
Cameroon 30
Canada 20 60 20
Cyprus (2) (2)
Dominican Republic (2) 15
Fiji 75 1,955 5
Gambia 5 100 (2)
Ghana (2) 750 (2)
Grenada (2) 50
Guyana 15
India 5 50 (2)
Jamaica 30 940 25
Kenya 5 120 5
Malawi (2) 115 (2)
Malaysia (2) (2) (2)
Malta (2) 5 (2)
Mauritius (2) 25 (2)
Namibia (2)
New Zealand 5 65 5
Nigeria (2) 80
Pakistan (2) 5 (2)
Papua New Guinea (2)
Seychelles 10
Sierra Leone (2) 45
Singapore (2)
South Africa 60 795 10
Sri Lanka 15 (2)
St. Kitts and Nevis (2) (2)
St. Lucia 5 230 (2)
St. Vincent 165 275 (2)
Swaziland 10
Tanzania (2)
Tonga 10
Trinidad 25 70 10
Uganda 55
Zambia (2) 20
Zimbabwe(3) 15 570 5
Other West Indies (2)
Other Non-British(4) 15 85
'—'( )denotes zero or rounded to zero

(1) Royal Air Force data for service personnel who are non-UK nationals have been provided on an ad-hoc basis as nationality data are not centrally held. The figure for service personnel who are UK nationals has been inferred from the total strength of the RAF at 1 April 2006.

(2) Fewer than five. All other figures are rounded to the nearest five.

(3) Includes personnel with nationality recorded as Rhodesian.

(4) Includes personnel with nationality recorded as British Commonwealth/Foreign, Other African Country and Other Asiatic Country, and 75 RAF personnel recorded as Commonwealth by birth, but with no nationality recorded.


Data are for UK regular forces (trained and untrained), including nursing services and excluding full time reserve service personnel, Gurkhas, the home service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment and mobilised reservists.

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David Wright
Posted on 14 Mar 2007 1:54 pm (Report this annotation)

It is interesting to see that the tiny island of Fiji has contributed 2035 to all three services.

Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, who contribute so much to our immigration figures, each contributed a rounded) 5 out of a total of 192,770.

An insight into how well different people are integrating into our multinational, multicultural society and playing a full part in the obligations of citizenship as well as the benefits.

Aravinthan Varatharaj
Posted on 24 Mar 2007 2:02 pm (Report this annotation)

That is pretty amazing, their population isn't even a million I don't think.
I'd just like to say something about David's comment. These figures are for personnel of different nationalities, so just because Pakistan and Bangladesh are only listed as 5 doesn't mean that there aren't more personnel who are British Citizens but of Pakistani or Bangladeshi descent (although there probably aren't that many more).
That said, I do agree with the point you are making though. It's the same with the police; ethnic minorities just don't seem to be interested. Government can be as 'equal opportunities' as they like, but I just don't think that the Armed Forces are viewed as a respectable or desired career among ethnic minorities - and that is a shame. (I'm originally Sri Lankan, I think I can speak very generally for South Asians but I may be wrong). I think the reasons for this are deep-seated, and 'multiculturalism' is not the way to unravel them.