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Negligence proves costly to army

Soldiers' carelessness is reported to be to blame for equipment being lost or damaged

(Keystone)

The Swiss army says it is losing hundreds of thousands of francs a year because of the carelessness of its soldiers. Damage or loss of personal equipment accounts for the bulk of the wastage, but weapons and military equipment are also affected.

According to the Federal Office for Land Forces, last year SFr1.6 million worth of military equipment had to be replaced after it was either lost or damaged. Clothing and inexpensive kitchen utensils were the items most frequently replaced, but around 80 pieces of equipment costing more than SFr500 each also went missing during the course of the year.

Among the more expensive items to disappear was a radio set with an estimated value of SFr12,000.

A spokesman for the federal office, Robert Messerli, said that in most cases soldiers' carelessness was to blame for equipment being lost or damaged.

"Tools might go missing or transmission equipment, such as complex cables, which are just lying somewhere forgotten," he told swissinfo. "But it's very rare for equipment to be stolen, and when we know something has been stolen we always investigate."

Messerli said weapons also went missing, but "in very small numbers".

According to Messerli, care of equipment is an essential part of the military training given to all new conscripts to the Swiss army. And although equipment losses are still high, the amount of money the losses cost the army is dropping.

"In 1999 it was SFr1.65 million and the year before SFr1.7 million," he said.

swissinfo with agencies

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