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Tuesday, July 20, 1999 Published at 20:09 GMT 21:09 UK


Ethnic-minority chief for army

In 1997 the army launched an Equal Opportunities policy

The British Army has appointed its first commanding officer from an ethnic minority, who will control a 200-bed field hospital.

Lieutenant Colonel Abby DuBaree, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, has taken command of the 33 Field Hospital in Gosport, near Portsmouth, Hampshire.

The soldier - who was born in Mauritius and lived there until 1970 - said he was "extremely honoured" by the appointment.

[ image: The army launched a recruitment drive in 1997]
The army launched a recruitment drive in 1997
And he said he would encourage other people from ethnic minorities to join the army, where there were "plenty of opportunities".

Lt Col DuBaree said: "As a young soldier I did feel the culture shock in the chain of command that I had to adapt to, but my friends have always supported me and I have had no major problems."

The new commanding officer has been posted to Northern Ireland, Germany, Belize, Norway, Greece and Kenya during his 29-year career with the army.

At the 33 Field Hospital, he will be responsible for more than 100 people, and will form part of the army's rapid reaction force.

Lt Col DuBaree will work for one of three Army operational field hospitals. The other two are currently stationed in Bosnia and Kosovo.

The army is working with the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) to ensure 5% of the force is made up of ethnic groups by 2003.

In October 1997 it introduced an Equal Opportunities policy, and launched a poster campaign designed to recruit from black and Asian communities for its non-commissioned ranks.

It depicted a black officer above the phrase, "Your country needs you", in a parody of a World War I poster of Lord Kitchener.

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