Cocaine shame of TEN UK soldiers in Cyprus

Cocaine shame of TEN UK soldiers in Cyprus: Troops from £120m battlegroup face being kicked out of the Army after island drugs binge

  • Troops failed drug tests at top security base after a night out in Paphos, Cyprus
  • It is understood they returned to base and later confronted by Army drug testers
  • Frustrated top brass confirmed that the soldiers ‘can expect to be discharged’ 
  • Military police have launched investigation into drug-taking by soldiers on island

Ten soldiers serving in the Army’s new £120million Experimentation Battlegroup face being dismissed after they were caught taking cocaine, the Daily Mail can reveal.

In one of the biggest single cases of cocaine abuse in Army history, the troops failed drug tests at their top security base in Cyprus.

Last night frustrated top brass confirmed the soldiers ‘can expect to be discharged’.

They binged on the Class A drug on a night out at the holiday resort of Paphos, 30 miles from their base at Episkopi Garrison. It is understood they returned to base in the early hours and were later confronted by Army drug testers.

Revellers: The soldiers binged on drugs on a night out in the holiday resort of Paphos, 30 miles from their base at Episkopi Garrison (file photo)

Taking aim: A soldier from 2 Yorks at a firing range in Cyprus. The battlegroup is said to sit at the vanguard of the Army’s approach to ‘prototype warfare’ 

Military police have now launched an investigation into drug-taking by soldiers on the island, which the Mail has been told is ‘rife’.

Defence sources said the drugs test took place at the end of April. Everyone in the 500-strong group serving at the base was tested.

The 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment (2 Yorks) was given the Experimentation Battlegroup role two months ago, with special forces officers drafted in to oversee the transition.

The battlegroup is said to sit at the vanguard of the Army’s approach to ‘prototype warfare’, which involves new technologies such as drones and robots. 

The British RAF Akrotiri base – which is guarded by troops from the battalion – near Limasson, Cyprus. 2 Yorks was founded in 2004 as part of a restructuring of infantry (file photo) 

300 years on the front line

The 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment was born from a military line that goes back to the late 17th century.

It was formed in 2004 as a number of regiments with centuries of service were brought together, including the Green Howards.

2 Yorks later served in Helmand, Afghanistan, where troops gained honours for gallantry but some lost their lives. The battalion, which suffered from under-manning, had been tipped to be axed this year.

But 2 Yorks was given a new role as the Army’s experimental warfare battalion. Its 500 troops have been based in Cyprus since 2020 and are expected to remain on the island until next year.

The Ministry of Defence’s website says the role is aimed to ‘pit soldiers, new equipment, technology and tactics against hybrid and conventional threats posed by terrorists, proxy and state adversaries’.

The drugs binge by the soldiers is particularly embarrassing for service chiefs given the battalion’s high-profile role and the investment being poured into it. The new unit formed following the Government’s Integrated Review of defence and security.

At the time of its launch, Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said: ‘With every great advance in technology comes an advance in the way we fight. The British Army has a proud tradition of experimenting and innovating with new technologies during each of the previous industrial revolutions. 

‘As we enter this new age of big data, automation and artificial intelligence, it’s important that the new Experimentation Battlegroup will be able to build on that tradition and integrate these latest advances into our force structures, equipment requirements and tactics.’

2 Yorks was founded in 2004 as part of a restructuring of infantry. It was previously known as the 1st Battalion, Green Howards. Troops from the battalion are responsible for guarding RAF Akrotiri on the island. 

Hundreds of bombing missions against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria were launched from the base. Earlier this year, the Mail revealed nine soldiers, including two women, from the Royal Horse Artillery were kicked out of the Army after taking cocaine.

Last night a Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘The Army does not tolerate drug abuse within its ranks as it is incompatible with military service and operational effectiveness. Army personnel caught taking drugs can expect to be discharged.’

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