The former Foreign Secretary Lord Hague has said that British citizenship is “not a travel document” and the “blunt truth” is that the UK must create a 21st century national service.
Lord William Hague has said that the UK must create a Scandinavian-style national service which comes as army chiefs have warned that the UK is not prepared for war.
Writing in The Times Lord Hague wrote, “The blunt truth is that the chances of getting through the next couple of decades without a dangerous world crisis are small.”
Lord Hague said that the old fashioned ideas of national service are not seen “as compatible for our hyper-individualistic age.”
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The former Tory leader said that the UK could create a Norwegian style of their national service where 18-year olds are selected for an interview after completing a form, some 17% will then serve for a year or longer.
Last week Carlos Del Toro, the United States navy secretary has urged the British government to “reassess” the size of the armed forces.
Del Toro told reporters after a speech at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) in London, “I think it is important for the United Kingdom to reassess where they are today given the threats that exist today.”
Del Toro’s comments come as General Sir Patrick Sanders, the outgoing Chief of the General Staff (CGS) said that the British Army only has 74,000 soldiers.
He said this needs to be bolstered with at least 45,000 reservists to prepare the UK for war should NATO trigger Article 5 against an attack from Russia.
The former head of the British Army Lord Richard Dannatt has agreed with General Sir Patrick Sanders, Chief of the General Staff (CGS) that “we will have to get involved” in fighting a war.
Lord Dannatt warned that we only have 75,000 soldiers and this “will not be sustainable.” For example Vladimir Putin has this amount of troops surrounding just one town in Ukraine.
General Lord Dannatt, said General Sir Patrick is correct to raise such a scenario, “if push comes to shove, as a population, we will all have to get involved and harness the manpower of the nation.”
He added, “If international circumstances deteriorate where this country finds itself at war, fighting with an army of 75,000 soldiers will not be sustainable.
“Regular armies fight the opening rounds and the citizen army come in later and put on uniform; we saw it in the First and Second World Wars.
“That’s the reality, and it’s realistic to have these conversations. I certainly don’t criticise the Chief of the General Staff for doing so.”
General Sir Patrick said on Wednesday, “Ukraine brutally illustrates that regular armies start wars, citizen armies win them,” he said.
“We need an army designed to expand rapidly to enable the first echelon, resource the second echelon, and train and equip the citizen army that must follow.
“Within the next three years, it must be credible to talk of a British Army of 120,000, folding in our reserve and strategic reserve. But that’s not enough.”
Tobias Ellwood, the former chairman of the defence select committee, said, “We must get into a mindset that the world is moving dangerously in the wrong direction and it is now impacting on our economy, first in the Black Sea, now in the Red Sea.
“The post-Cold War period of instability is over, a new chapter has begun where a new alliance of adversaries are testing the West’s timidity.
“Britain has done well to rekindle its Cold War statecraft, but we can only continue to do that if we upgrade our defence posture.”