Faced with the threat of war with Russia, tens of thousands of Britain’s citizens must be trained as a “citizen army,” according to General Sir Patrick Sanders, chief of the general staff.
The general made this demand in a cracking speech in London last Wednesday to an International Armoured Vehicles Conference.
Which is to say the general was speaking to a room full of chaps keen on tanks, what you could call a receptive audience.
Sir Patrick said numbers of regular soldiers must be increased to 120,000 instead of sliding down to 73,000 and below. He wants tens of thousands of citizen soldiers recruited to back up the regular army. Funding for the military had to be increased. Technology must be modernised.
Hoorah, no doubt the tank chaps replied.
Of course, someone hinted that the government had not wanted the speech made public.
That always makes a speech sound extra spicey: politicians want to silence a passionate soldier who is reminding the nation that in 1914 Britain “stumbled into the most ghastly of wars”.
Sir Patrick does not want Britain to stumble into a war again. Sign up tens of thousands of more regular military, he said, establish tens of thousands as a regular army, be ready to face the Russians just as all Ukrainian citizens are doing. Put the public on a war footing.
What, ho! Jolly good! Citizen army!
A moment, though. What citizens would those be?
One must wonder if Sir Patrick has looked at British young men today. (I do mean young men. If you want infantry, you want size, muscle and testosterone.)
The general assures us that young people are “ready to serve, to seek adventure, to find where they belong”.
I think that if Sir Patrick imagines he can train tens of thousands for a citizen army he needs to admit that anyone young enough to be a soldier is fat, unfit, and educated to believe British forces represent colonialism and white privilege.
More, the army is not about serving and adventure. That is just the recruiting office sales pitch. It is about training to kill the enemy. Nothing wrong with that, that’s the job.
If young people are going to be persuaded, for example, to join the Royal Navy on the grounds that they can have adventures in the Pacific, somebody needs to remind them that, the way things are going, their adventure is going to be at the business end of Chinese destroyer weapon systems.
Reminder: according to the CIA Factbook, China has two million active service personnel. They are not trained and armed so that British young people can “serve, seek adventure and find where they belong”.
Though where would young people now find the impulse to fight? Earlier generations had heroes they could look to, men who could inspire them to sign up and fight.
One of the greatest of British heroes was Admiral Lord Nelson. He was daring, imaginative and deadly. He had an eye shot out in the capture of Corsica, had his right arm ripped off in the battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, none of it stopped him until his final victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, where, as triumph approached, he was shot dead by a French sharpshooter.
What a hero. For generations, any young man who wanted to join the Royal Navy could dream of the glory that was Nelson. They knew how Nelson saw his duty: “the annihilation of the enemy”.
Young men could dream of roaring out the guns and doing the same.
But not now.
Look at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich in London, where Nelson’s history is, ahem, being “reinterpreted”. Thousands of school pupils visit the museum to learn about Britain’s maritime history.
I can barely say these words myself, so I will leave it to the Daily Telegraph reporter who visited the exhibition: “A statue of a ‘god-like protector of all migrants’ has been placed next to a bust of Lord Nelson, and the invented deity berates the military leader in a new audio-visual display”.
“The interactive display states that the ‘bravery and resilience’ of Nelson…is also shared by others, including migrants who make sea crossings. Audio spoken by the migrant goddess also disregards his ‘fancy medals and uniform’ in recorded dialogue.”
I will stop right there. Dismissing Nelson’s ‘fancy medals and uniform’ is shocking. The museum has the honour to hold the uniform Nelson was wearing when he was killed at Trafalgar.
The uniform shows the hole left when the French musket ball entered Nelson’s left shoulder and smashed through to his lower back.
The uniform is a holy relic.
Yet the same museum invents a non-existent “goddess” (what?) who mocks Nelson and his admirals, “You are not the only ones who have shown bravery and resilience at sea… I carry essential supplies and the precious memories and dreams of every person I protect. What can be more important than that?”
What can be more important than that is the annihilation of Britain’s enemies.
The museum, and other museums, and too many schools, are teaching such tripe, and thousands of school pupils have been absorbing it all. The result is recent generations who have no heroes, who honour no brilliant achievements of past soldiers and sailors.
So why would they ever want to sign up to armed forces which they are taught represent colonialism and white privilege?
Someone needs re-educate these young people, and quickly, because, yes, Britain is facing war, and soon.
The choice is, sign up, fight and maybe die. Or don’t sign up, don’t fight, and die for sure.
Britain expects that every man will do his duty.