UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph said on Monday that scores of the soldiers jumping to the private sector were members of the elite Special Air Service.

The daily said some 120 members of the SAS and its naval equivalent, the Special Boat Service (SBS), had left the forces to join private security outfits including Kroll, Controlled Risks and Armour Security.

According to the paper, the SAS command recently wrote to the 300 members of the force on the front lines in Iraq telling them "it would be in everyone's best interests" if they remained in the British Army.

A former SAS member, writing anonymously in The Guardian newspaper, said it was possible to earn about £14,000 ($26,500) a month working with private enterprises in Iraq compared with the army pay of £2,000 a month.