Army ‘holds mission rehearsal’ to test training ‘citizen’s military’ of 500,000 Brits – as millions could face call-up

Army ‘holds mission rehearsal’ to test training ‘citizen’s military’ of 500,000 Brits – as millions could face call-up

THE British Army has held a “mission rehearsal” which could be considered a test on training ordinary Brits to fight Putin.

An Army chief warned millions of ordinary people could face the call-up if the UK goes to war with Russia.

Army ‘holds mission rehearsal’ to test training ‘citizen’s military’ of 500,000 Brits – as millions could face call-up
Getty Images – Getty

Brits could get the call-up if the UK goes to war, it has been warned[/caption]

PA

General Sir Patrick Sanders said there is now a need to ‘mobilise the nation’[/caption]

General Sir Patrick Sanders, Chief of the General Staff, stressed the need for ministers to “mobilise the nation” in a speech yesterday, amid the threat of World War 3.

And a Ministry of Defence insider has now said UK training Ukrainian civilians for war could help with that.

The source said they thought the training had been filled with “useful lessons” to take for a future “citizen army” full of everyday Brits.

They told The Times: “We are observing that a lot of what we are doing could act as a mission rehearsal for generating our own second echelon.”

The UK has been training Ukrainian carpenters and office workers since June 2022, amid Putin’s attack on their country.

Some have never held a gun, but leave the country prepared to fight for their own.

Now there are talks Brits may have to do the same.

With the British Army at its smallest size in centuries, Sir Patrick Sanders said he believes there should be a “shift” in the mindset of the public who should be willing to defend the UK against foreign adversaries.

It is unclear how big the military would need to be – but armed forces minister James Heappey previously cited figure of a combined force of 500,000 troops and civilians as an example.

The Army chief would not support conscription, it is understood.

However, he is said to believe Brits should change their mindset to “think more like troops” and be prepared for a call-up if Nato goes to war with Vladimir Putin.

It comes just days after a Nato chief warned Brits could face conscription as the threat of all-out war with Russia loomed.

When did the UK last have conscription?

  • On the day Britain declared war on Germany, September 3 1939, Parliament immediately passed a  new rule for conscription.
  • The National Service (Armed Forces) Act imposed conscription on all males aged between 18 and 41 who had to register for service.
  • Those medically unfit were exempted, as were others in key industries and jobs such as baking, farming, medicine, and engineering.  
  • Conscription helped greatly to increase the number of men in active service during the first year of World War 2.
  • Following the end of the Second World War, a new National Service Act was passed that required all young men aged 17 to 21 to serve in the armed forces for 18 months.
  • They would also have to remain on the reserve list for several years.
  • National Service then continued until the last servicemen were demobbed in 1963.
  • Conscientious objectors could refuse, but would face a tribunal at which they would be expected to justify their opposition to joining up.

Chief of Nato’s military committee Dutch Admiral Rob Bauer called on the West to “prepare for an era of war”, adding that Nato “needs a warfighting transformation”.

During a crunch summit between Nato defence chiefs in Brussels, Bauer said: “We need to be readier across the whole spectrum.

“You have to have a system in place to find more people if it comes to war, whether it does or not. Then you talk mobilisation, reservists or conscription.

“We have to realise it’s not a given that we are in peace. And that’s why we [Nato forces] are preparing for a conflict with Russia.”

Gen Sir Patrick made his plea to ordinary Britons at the International Armoured Vehicles Conference in Twickenham yesterday.

He said: “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.

“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.

“Our predecessors failed to perceive the implications of the so-called July Crisis in 1914 and stumbled into the most ghastly of wars. We cannot afford to make the same mistake today.”

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