Four Corners - ANZACS
From Iraq to Solomon Islands and Afghanistan to East Timor, Australia's Army is stretched tight. The burden of overseas deployments weighs like a straining kitbag on the back of each of Australia's 22,443 regular soldiers. Every year, one in eight soldiers quits.
The Army needs another 5000 young men and women to boost the numbers. But its pitch for new diggers is cruelled by an unpopular war in Iraq, its own unfashionable image, low unemployment and general unwillingness by young Australians to fight a war. So in a controversial military makeover, entry standards are being relaxed and training drills made gentler so that army life is better attuned to the Y-Generation.
Masters' report offers an insight into the rigours of army life for the unsung heroes, the families. As defence leaders try to put a brake on attrition and accelerate recruitment, they know they have a finite pool of recruits to dip into. And as serving soldiers take on big commitments abroad, the battle to maintain standards - as well as numbers - is just being joined.
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