UK MILITARY – Britain should ‘train and equip’ a ‘citizen army’ to prepare the country for war on land, the head of the Army has warned.
What Was Said
General Sir Patrick Sanders, the outgoing Chief of the General Staff, said even that would be ‘not enough’ as he pointed to allies in eastern and northern Europe ‘laying the foundations for national mobilisation’.
In a speech today, the general – who has been openly critical of staff shortages in the military – said boosting Army numbers in preparation for a potential conflict would need to be a ‘whole-of-nation undertaking’.
Why it was Said
But Downing Street later hit back at the suggestion, insisting there were no plans for conscription.
It comes after Defence Secretary Grant Shapps in a speech last week said the world was ‘moving from a post-war to pre-war world’ and the UK must ensure its ‘entire defence ecosystem is ready’ to defend its homeland – as he warned Britain and allies must increase military spending.
Wednesday’s comments by Sir Patrick, made during a speech at the International Armoured Vehicles conference in west London, are not the first time he has pushed for greater readiness of Britain’s armed forces for conflict.
Speaking in 2022 in the months after Russian president Vladimir Putin‘s invasion of Ukraine, the Army chief declared: ‘This is our 1937 moment.’
He was referring to preparations made for the start of the Second World War, as he warned the British Army should be at ‘high readiness’.
‘We Must win Wars on Land’
In today’s speech, Sir Patrick said Britain could not rely on its navy and air power – arguing: ‘We must be able to credibly fight and win wars on land’.
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 this is not enough.’