The defence secretary is said to be “furious” after it was reported the British Army wants to relax security clearance vetting for overseas recruits to boost diversity and inclusion.
The UK’s armed forces are looking overseas to boost ethnic minority representation because they have consistently failed to hit recruitment targets, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
The paper said it had seen a document, titled The British Army’s Race Action Plan, which outlines a series of “actions” to boost representation and describes security checks as “the primary barrier to non-UK personnel gaining a commission in the army”.
The guidance reportedly vows to “challenge SC [security clearance] requirements” to increase representation in the intelligence and officer corps, roles which have “uncontrolled access to secret assets”.
Grant Shapps was reportedly “furious” about the findings and was “ready to go to battle”.
“I am ordering a review of diversity and inclusivity policy at the MoD (Ministry of Defence),” the defence secretary told the paper.
“We want people from all backgrounds to serve in our military but some policies appear to be more about a political agenda than practically improving the lives of our dedicated soldiers and military personnel.
“There will certainly not be any lowering of security clearance requirements on my watch.
“And no one should be offended by having religion as part of remembrance services. You don’t have to be Christian to appreciate and respect the history and traditions of the United Kingdom.”
An MoD source told the paper: “There are personnel issues that need addressing in the armed services but some of these policies are about a woke agenda and extreme critical race theories.
“These are leftist ideas that have leaked into the civil service and they are at best a distraction and at worst poisoning the wider discussion.”
‘Lunacy of pushing woke ideas’
Twelve former senior military officers lambasted the relaxed vetting policy as “dangerous madness” in an open letter to the defence secretary.
“Among the lunacy of pushing woke ideas around the use of ‘gender neutral’ pronouns, or allowing male soldiers to wear make-up or flowing locks on parades to accentuate their feminine side, we pick out the wickedness of a policy to dilute security vetting in order to boost representation of ethnic minorities,” they wrote.
“With Islamism and other extremism rampant, this is nothing short of dangerous madness.”
An MoD spokesperson said: “Our priority is protecting the national security of the United Kingdom and ensuring the operational effectiveness of our armed forces.
“We take security extremely seriously and ensure that all personnel have the appropriate security clearance, which is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”