To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the article in the Express entitled A fifth of British troops are too unfit to fight warns former Armed Forces chief, published on 25 February 2018, whether a fifth of soldiers are unfit for overseas action; and what work his Department is doing to ensure soldiers are fit for action.
It is not true that a fifth of Armed Forces personnel are too unfit to fight. Approximately 80% of UK Armed Forces personnel are Medically Fully Deployable, however 90% could deploy with some personnel subject to a medical risk assessment; 98% of UK Armed Forces personnel are currently employable within the Ministry of Defence (MOD).
Service personnel can be non-deployable for various reasons which include failing a fitness test, but also those identified as being Wounded, Injured and Sick (WIS) which provides access to the Defence Recovery Capability, enabling an effective return to duty or transition to a properly supported and appropriately skilled civilian life.
The military has programmes that provide long-term support and change behaviour strategies to address poor lifestyle choices and weight management issues. If personnel fail a fitness test, they are put on a targeted programme to help them back to the required levels. The MOD has trialled the Defence Occupational Fitness Programme (DOFit) which provides evidence-based courses, supported by Public Health England, aimed at helping individuals return to optimal fitness. These can be employed post-injury, or in the event of someone not being able to complete the fitness test to a satisfactory standard. Following completion of the DOFit trial the programme has been implemented by the Royal Navy and the Army.