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They signed up to serve their country.. and were drummed out for drugs shame.

Byline: By Mark McGivern

FIVE young Army recruits proudly look forward to a career serving their country in the forces.

But, within three years, their dreams would be in tatters.

Four members of the King's Own Scottish Borderers group were kicked out for drug abuse.

Ironically, the only one to escape the boot was former drug-pushing private Robert McAuley, on the far right.

After leaving the service with an exemplary record, he told the Record of the huge extent of the problem in our regiments.

In another photograph obtained by the Record, six privates from the same platoon pose for a snap.

All bar one faced the same fate as scores of their fellow squaddies and were kicked out over drugs.

The photos were among a large selection supplied to the Record. Each featured faces of ex-soldiers whose habitual taking of ecstasy, speed, cocaine and cannabis bought them a dishonourable discharge.

The snaps highlight how the numbers of drug discharges being publicised are just the tip of the iceberg.

Last night, another former Army drug dealer in McAuley's platoon said: "I would guess there must have been 100 out of 500 men in my regiment kicked out but there probably should have been more than that.

"With the reality of so many people taking drugs, the Army shouldn't be simply throwing people on the rubbish pile.

"They should be isolating those who take pills or whatever and putting them through extensive rehabilitation courses, if they agree to it.

"If someone in the Army admits a booze a problem they get help. Why is it so different for drugs?"

The former soldier told how he often bought drugs at home and took them to the Army's base in Catterick to sell to friends at a profit. He added: "The drug-taking was a part of life for me until I got caught.

The revelations by McAuley in the Record on Wednesday were followed by news that 20 soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland were caught last week taking drugs and face the sack.

Yesterday, McAuley, from Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, told how the Army was blighted on a huge scale by the scourge of recreational drugs.

The 29-year-old, who served in the KOSB m between 1999 and 2004, said: "I can go through all of my official photos and pick out scores of colleagues who were chucked out.

"In some photos, each and every guy was found taking Class A drugs. Everyone was at it, despite the Army denying it. The revelations so far are the tip of the iceberg."

Earlier this month, it was revealed that the ranks of disgraced soldiers included Private Jim Ford, who had earlier been praised for his conduct after being shot in Basra.

But a random drugs test showed traces of cocaine. Ford, of Wishaw, Lanarkshire, was one of 26 soldiers drummed out in disgrace from the Royal Scots Borderers, the 1st Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, since Christmas.

He said: 'Drugs are rife and it is pointless denying it.

"I have seen people taking drugs - in one case cocaine - in the last few months inside Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh, especially before going on a night out outside.

"If they ever did drugs searches instead of just testing, they would get a shock."

RECORD VIEW: Page 8

CAPTION(S):

DEALER: Robert McAuley; SHATTERED LIVES: Robert McAuley, far right, is the only soldier in the picture above not to have been booted out the Army for drug abuse. Right five of these troops were axed
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 23, 2007
Words:592
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