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Prof Neil Greenberg says that the government's strategy “doesn’t really work at all”AFP

One of Britain's top psychiatrists has slammed the government's strategy on dealing with an ingrained culture of alcohol abuse within the armed forces, stating that it "doesn't really work at all".

Prof Neil Greenberg, who is the lead on military health at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said telling soldiers to stop drinking is ineffectual - as it is in a civilian context.

Greenberg told the BBC: "For many years the military have relied heavily on alcohol education, so for instance soldiers would have to have a brief every year that tells them drinking is bad for them.

"The problem is we know that alcohol education doesn't really work at all, and the evidence from the civilian population is that it's a terribly ineffective way of stopping people from drinking."

Military personnel commented that drinking was a big part of the army culture as it creates a sense of unity.

A 2013 study from the King's Centre for Military Health Research showed that 65% of the military were found to be "higher risk" for their excessive drinking.

Greenberg added: "I think one of the first things that needs to be done is to investigate a little more about why it is that people drink heavily in the military.

"If it is that the military culture encourages people who weren't heavy drinkers before to start drinking heavily then really something needs to be done at a very early stage to encourage people to drink in moderate and socially acceptable ways."

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Defence told the BBC that it is committed to teaching its recruits about alcohol abuse.

"As within wider society, there is no quick fix to reduce alcohol misuse in the armed forces," he said.

"We are taking action by educating personnel on the dangers of alcohol misuse to help them make informed decisions, and have introduced extensive policy and guidance for commanders.

"We have rigorous processes in place to discipline personnel who make poor choices regarding alcohol consumption, and treatment mechanisms in place for those with genuine alcohol problems.

"We are going further, and this summer launched an alcohol working group to review policy and data to identify what more we can do to tackle alcohol misuse in the armed forces."