The head of the British army, Gen. Patrick Sanders, emphasized on Wednesday that U.K. civilians should be prepared to engage in a hypothetical land war, citing the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine as evidence that “citizen armies” play a crucial role in conflicts. He expressed concern that the British military’s current size is insufficient to address emerging threats in a changing global landscape.
“Taking preparatory steps to enable placing our societies on a war footing when needed are now not merely desirable but essential,” Sanders warned. “Our friends in eastern and northern Europe, who feel the proximity of the Russian threat more acutely, are already acting prudently, laying the foundations for national mobilization.”
Presently, the U.K. army comprises approximately 75,000 fully trained professional soldiers, with an additional 60,000 service members in the British navy and air force. Despite the U.K. allocating about 2% of its gross domestic product to military expenditures, Sanders advocated for an increase to 2.5% and argued that the army should expand to a standing force of approximately 120,000 soldiers by 2027, asserting that even this figure may be insufficient.
Sanders added, “Ukraine brutally illustrates that regular armies start wars; citizen armies win them.”
His statements, echoed by other senior defense officials, prompted a response from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office at 10 Downing Street, which firmly ruled out the possibility of military conscription or war draft.
“Old enemies are reanimated. New foes are taking shape. Battle lines are being redrawn. The tanks are literally on Europe’s Ukrainian lawn,” Shapps continued. “The foundations of the world order are being shaken to their core. We stand at this crossroads – whether to surrender to a sea of troubles, or do everything we can to deter the danger. I believe that, in reality, it’s no choice at all. To guarantee our freedoms, we must be prepared.”
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