18 Jan 2005

Fiji short of soldiers over Iraq jobs

4:22 pm on 18 January 2005

Fiji's military is seriously concerned about its ability to respond to a major crisis because of a shortage of soldiers.

This follows the resignations of hundreds of regular and territorial troops to take up private security work in Iraq.

Already more than 60 officers and 300 other ranks have left and more are expected to go as several private security companies step up recruitment.

The military spokesman, Captain Neumi Leweni, has told Fiji TV that they are being forced to ask the government for extra funds to increase this year's intake of new recruits from 100 to 300.

Meanwhile, there are reports that an international company is in negotiations with a Fiji agency to recruit Fijian soldiers to guard embassies and diplomatic posts in trouble spots around the world.