UK ex-NATO chief says Army conscription could be needed to stop Putin | World | News

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UK ex-NATO chief says Army conscription could be needed to stop Putin | World | News

The former deputy supreme commander of NATO argued it is time to « think the unthinkable » and consider bringing back conscription to deter Russia from igniting World War 3 with the Western military alliance.

The head of the UK Army, General Sir Patrick Sanders, said on Wednesday that Britain should lay the foundations for a voluntary call-up if a war broke out and train a « citizen army » ready to fight a potential conflict on land.

But General Sir Richard Shirreff, who was a NATO chief between 2011 and 2014, believes it unlikely the UK government would be able to persuade a large number of civilians to sign up voluntarily given army recruitment is in freefall.

In a letter to The Times, General Sir Richard argued it is now time to look at conscription in order to beef up the British army.

He wrote: « Although the reserve army can go some way to reinforcing the regulars, now is the time to think the unthinkable and look carefully at conscription.

« To most professional soldiers (myself included), conscription is anathema. However, if deterrence is to be effective, Russia deterred and catastrophe averted, it might be necessary. »

In his letter, General Sir Richard also questioned whether the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is prepared for a war of a « scale and ferocity that would engulf the UK » if NATO had to leap at the defence of a fellow member under attack in accordance to its principle of collective defence.

General Sir Patrick’s warning, issued during a speech at an armoured vehicle conference, sent shockwaves through the country, sparking a widespread discussion on what a mass mobilisation would mean to everyday Britons.

The outgoing Chief of the General Staff added: « We will not be immune and as the pre-war generation we must similarly prepare – and that is a whole-of-nation undertaking. Ukraine brutally illustrates that regular armies start wars; citizen armies win them.

Downing Street and the MoD commented on Wednesday that there was « absolutely no suggestion of a return to conscription ».

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak‘s spokesman also said hypothetical scenarios of a future potential conflict were not helpful.

UK defence leaders in the MoD are reportedly discussing how to build up a force of up to 500,000 troops and civilians ready to take on a nation such as Russia, which has fully adopted a war economy following its invasion of Ukraine.

This comes as other European nations have warned their citizens they need to mentally prepare for the possibility of a war sparked by Russia attacking NATO’s eastern flank.

Sweden was the first to raise alarm bells, followed by Germany and Norway.

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