'Bored' soldiers must be treated better to stop them turning to drugs, says army officer

By John Siddle

Bored troops must be treated better to stop them turning to drugs, warns one of Britain’s top soldiers.

Army Sergeant Major Paul Carney said rookies need a “chain of command that cares”.

And he added: “Bored soldiers will do bad things.”

Sgt Maj Carney is calling for better food, homes and chances of sport, training and foreign trips.

The Army carries out 80,000 drug tests a year and 1,327 personnel have been kicked out in the past three years over use.

But Afghanistan veteran Sgt Maj Carney, 42, says tests are no ­longer a sufficient deterrent ­as “young people have no qualms about leaving”.

He said: “If things aren’t to their liking, far more young ­soldiers these days are willing to jack in their Army careers than previously.

Cocaine is the most common drug among squaddies (Getty Images/EyeEm)

“The job market has changed and youngsters now think nothing of switching jobs. A sergeant housed in a family unit with a spouse and children, and a decent wage coming in, doesn’t want to be kicked out – but for young single soldiers, it can be different.”

Talking to Soldier magazine, the Army’s most senior warrant officer added: “The best solution is to create opportunities for them and make the Army such a desirable place to be that it is something they want to stay part of.

“So a chain of command that cares for them, a nice room, decent food, opportunities to go abroad on exercises and enjoy adventurous training and sports are all vital for making this an organisation people don’t want to leave, or risk getting thrown out of for doing something silly.”

Cocaine is the most common drug detected in soldiers, followed by cannabis and ecstasy. Ketamine, steroids and benzos show up too.

The Ministry of Defence said: “The Army provides excellent employment opportunities and helps our people develop skills for life. We educate personnel about the misuse of drugs, ­explaining that drug-taking will not be tolerated.”

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