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No off-duty uniform rule for soldiers

SOLDIERS based at a Kent barracks won’t be forced to wear their uniforms while off-duty, despite calls from a Labour MP who believes the move would create a stronger sense of community spirit.

Quentin Davies is carrying out a public review into attitudes towards sevicemen and women around the country.

It could include suggestions such as US-style “welcome home” parades for troops returning from active service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Capt Oli Dobson, from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders based at Howe Barracks in Canterbury, does not think the move would be necessary here.

“Both the community and ourselves have been working hard together for years and I think we’re pretty much aware of each other’s presence,” he said.

“It would be great to wear our uniform out in public and some of the guys already do, but I don’t think we have the kind of problems here that they might experience in other towns, where the relationship might be broken.”

He feels time out of uniform retains a sense of normality and added: “I’m sure the Army couldn’t force anyone to wear their uniform off-duty if they didn’t want to.”

Currently, soldiers take the advice of their Commanding Officer as to whether or not to wear uniform off-duty.

The findings of Mr Davies’ review are expected to be published in the next couple of months.

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