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British public could be called up to armed forces if UK goes to war with Russia, army chief warns

British public could be called up to armed forces if UK goes to war with Russia, army chief warns

He's not saying war is going to happen, but if it does the public could find themselves fighting

The head of the British army has said that the UK should train a 'citizen army' to prepare the nation for the possibility of a land war.

General Sir Patrick Sanders, the outgoing Chief of the General Staff, said the army needed to increase its numbers to prepare for a potential conflict.

In a speech given today (24 January) he said that increasing the size of Britain's armed forces would be a 'whole-of-nation undertaking'.

In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine he had previously spoken about 'our 1937 moment' and the need for the armed forces to be ready for potential conflicts that could involve the UK.

The army chief also said that Britain could not rely on the Royal Navy and RAF alone for defence, and needed to have an army that could 'credibly fight and win wars on land'.

His comments come after defence secretary Grant Shapps said the world was 'moving from a post-war to pre-war world' and a senior NATO official said the West faces an all out war with Russia within 20 years.

The current chief of the British army said the country needs to be ready to fight a land war, and that could mean a 'citizen army' where members of the public are trained.
Getty Stock Photo

"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," Sir Patrick said of his belief that the UK needed to expand the army, which has fallen in size from 102,000 personnel in 2006 to around 74,000 now.

"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.

"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 mobilisation.

"As the chairman of the Nato military committee warned just last week, and as the Swedish government has done, preparing Sweden for entry to Nato, taking preparatory steps to enable placing our societies on a war footing when needed are now not merely desirable but essential.

"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."

More than one senior figure has compared the situation to the 1930s and the rise of the Nazis.
Contributor/Getty Images

Last week one of his predecessors as Chief of the General Staff, General Lord Dannatt, criticised the shrinking of the size of the British army.

He compared the state of the military to the 'woeful' condition of the 1930s when Hitler and the Nazis were able to occupy or dominate much of mainland Europe, and warned there was 'a serious danger of history repeating itself'.

Since Russian dictator Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine over two years ago, hundreds of thousands have died and millions have been displaced from their homes.

In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine other countries joined NATO while munitions and materiel have been sent to the country from a number of nations.

The geopolitical situation is tense, as there are a number of elections in 2024 which could determine much about the conflict, with a particular focus on the US presidential election.

There are concerns that should Donald Trump win the election, his stated admiration of Putin could mean a reduction or the end of US support for Ukraine.

Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Image/Contributor/Getty Images

Topics: UK News, Army, Russia, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin