Analysts call for islanders in Australian army

Analysts call for islanders in Australian army

Analysts call for islanders in Australian army

Updated 30 March 2012, 15:40 AEDT

Two of Australia's most respected defence analysts believe a chronic shortfall in Australian Defence Force recruits could be fixed by opening the door to Pacific islanders wanting to emigrate.

Hugh White and Anthony Bergin have called on the Australian government to look to its neighbours for new defence recruits by offering Australian citizenship in exchange for military service.

The proposal has not been ruled out by Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson.

Professor White, from the Australian National University, told Pacnews the move would create a closer, more confident relationship with troubled regional states such as East Timor, Fiji and Solomon Islands.

Under pressure to sustain overseas deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor and the South Pacific, the Australian government wants to boost the army by 20 per cent over the next 10 years - the biggest it has been since the Vietnam War.

But the Australian Defence Association says it would be "morally abhorrent" to offer citizenship in exchange for military service for Pacific islanders.

Spokesman Neil James says he questions a society which is not prepared to defend itself, and will pay foreigners to do it.