One of the most senior officers in the Army has expressed concern that "cocky" recruits from a "morally corrupt" society may tarnish its reputation.
Gen Lamb questioned the conduct of some soldiers serving in Iraq
Maj Gen Graeme Lamb, commander of the Army's 3rd Division, said the Army risks not being seen as a "highly respected" institution.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that in a recent speech he said prisoner abuse claims against soldiers were dangerous.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said they were his "personal views".
Addressing the Infantry Conference in Warminster, Wiltshire, Maj Gen Lamb is said to have referred to many recruits as "cocky and arrogant and brought up on a diet of football brats and binge drinking....who are not educated in and able to recognise self-discipline".
In his recent speech about the war in Iraq, entitled "Operational Success - Strategic Failure", he went on: "We are in very real danger of losing our place in society as a highly respected British institution, an institution built on over two centuries of bloody investment and one which today stands as virtually alone in the eyes of this and many other nations.
"This trust, this underlying admiration, is today under direct and sustained attack".
He is believed to have suggested that the problems were intensified by having to recruit and retain soldiers of a lower standard due to the pressures of military commitments.
Maj Gen Lamb received the DSO after leading troops in Iraq between July and December 2003, when the Army faced almost daily attacks from insurgents.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "These are the personal views of Gen Lamb.
"The Army plays an important role in the personal development of new recruits and seeks to ensure the highest standards are maintained by providing first class training for all."