A NEW recruitment marketing strategy has led to an increase in the number of people in the North-East volunteering to join the Army.

A spokesman at regional headquarters in York said: "We have taken a new line in our recruitment campaigns and it seems to be working well.

"As well as the new television advertisements, we have also been promoting the Army as a career at events in the North-East, as well as across the UK and it definitely seems to be having an effect.

However, he did not think there was a link between the rise in the number of recruits and a possible war against Iraq.

He said: "There is no real evidence that recent international events have had any effect, nor that there was surge in recruitment before the last Gulf War.''

He also denied reports that an impending war with Iraq has had an impact on the number of soldiers going absent without leave.

He said: There's certainly nothing to suggest an increase at any of the bases in the region. Soldiers are trained to do a job and, should they be called upon, most will want to go.

"Most servicemen and women will agree the worst thing is waiting to find out if your unit is to be involved or not.''