June 20, 2024

British Army Chief Calls for ‘Citizen Army’ to Prepare for Potential War with Russia

Written by AiBot

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Jan 25, 2024

Army Chief Gives Stark Warning of Threat of War

The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Patrick Sanders, has called for the formation of a “citizen army” of Britons to be ready to fight in the event of a land war in Europe against Russia. In his first public speech since taking on the role, General Sanders warned that the UK is facing its “1937 moment” and said Britons must prepare to “fight and win” to avoid “catastrophic consequences” [1].

His warning comes amid rising tensions between Russia and NATO countries over the war in Ukraine. Russia has made nuclear threats against the West supporting Ukraine, stoking fears that the conflict could spill over into a wider war [2].

General Sanders said the British Army is “too small” to face the Russian threat alone and outlined plans to integrate civilians into the armed forces to provide additional manpower [3].

“We are the generation that must prepare once again to fight and win alongside our Nato allies and partners,” he said. “There is now a burning imperative to forge an army capable of fighting alongside our allies and defeating Russia in battle. If we fail to do so there are catastrophic consequences.” [4]

Government Pushes Back on Speculation of Conscription

In response to General Sanders’ speech, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace moved to ease speculation that the UK could reintroduce military conscription.

“Let me be clear that there is no plan to recruit civilians through conscription to the armed forces,” Wallace told lawmakers in the House of Commons. [5]

Wallace stated that Sanders was making the point that “we’ve all got to do our bit” to improve skills that could be useful in helping Britain’s military if needed. [6]

However, General Sanders’ remarks have prompted debate around the possibility of conscription being required if tensions with Russia continue to rise. Former head of the British Army, Lord Dannatt, has stated a national debate is needed on the issue [1]. Some analysts believe conscription may become inevitable if the Ukraine conflict spreads [7].

Possibilities for Conscription For Against
Lowering conscription age to 18 Boost manpower Unpopular politically
Conscripting women Increase pool of recruits Cultural barriers
Targeting certain professions e.g. drone pilots, cyber experts Fill key capability gaps Hard to enforce

Table 1: Analysis of possible conscription options

Army Chief’s Views Supported by Senior Military Figures

General Sanders has received backing from several senior defence figures for his view that Britain must mobilise civilian support and improve homeland security to meet the Russian threat.

Former Defence Chief Lord Richards agreed citizens might need basic military training in skills like weapons handling in order to complement professional armed forces [8].

“The civilian population could play a vital role in complementing our armed forces with basic military training. They could help reinforce the territorial defence of NATO’s borders with Russia,” he said.

Major General Tim Cross also highlighted the need for extra manpower and for all parts of UK society to contribute to security in the current climate [9].

Mixed Response from Public

There has been a mixed response from the British public to the possibility of supporting military mobilisation efforts or being conscripted in the event of war.

A snap YouGov poll found the public evenly split on the idea of “introducing legislation that could see conscription reintroduced if needed” – with 40% in favour and 40% against [10].

However, veteran military figures have cast doubt on the feasibility of conscription. Colonel Richard Kemp said today’s youth may lack the “hardiness” required for military discipline and raised concerns over obesity levels [11]. Only around 25% of young adults meet the physical requirements for Army entry currently [12].

Next Steps

The UK government maintains there are no “current plans” to reintroduce conscription [13]. However, amendments made last year to the Civil Contingencies Act give ministers the power to enforce conscription as an “emergency power” if deemed necessary for national security [14].

Analysts state the government faces an uphill battle preparing civilians to fight without resorting to compulsory mobilisation if the Russia-NATO tensions continue to mount [15]. Ukraine’s ambassador warned Britain “there can be no escaping” the need to stand up to Russian aggression [16].

Sir Patrick Sanders is expected to outline further details of the Army’s plan to build up “popular resistance” against state threats when he addresses the Royal United Services Institute think tank next month [17].


  1. Time to think the unthinkable and consider UK conscription, says Britain’s former top NATO commander
  2. UK army chief warns of Russian threat
  3. War with Russia is coming – and Britain is determined to lose
  4. UK army chief warns of Russian threat
  5. U.K. army chief says citizens should be ready to fight in possible land war
  6. UK army chief warns of Russian threat
  7. Britain’s top general calls for ‘citizen army’ amid war threat
  8. ‘Citizen army’ should be prepared to fight potential land war, Britain’s top general says
  9. Britain’s army chief calls on government to mobilize the nation ‘if there’s a war with Russia’
  10. ‘Britishers must prepare to fight a land war’: Army chief says, look at Ukraine
  11. Brits could be conscripted for war due to starved military
  12. Obese Britain would be crushed by Mad Vlad’s war machine thanks to currant bun diet and sofa lifestyle
  13. Talk of army conscription ‘nonsense’, says Defence Minister
  14. Britain govt rejects conscription plans after top general voices need for ‘citizen army’
  15. British army chief warns UK public could be called to fight in war against Russia
  16. There can be no escaping the need to stand up to Russia
  17. Conscription and citizen army unlikely, UK armed forces minister says



AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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