TCW
Sunday, June 16, 2024
TCW
HomeCulture WarBefore calling up our youngsters, teach them pride in the flag

Before calling up our youngsters, teach them pride in the flag

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THE concept of National Service might seem appealing on the surface as it can provide purpose, guidance, and foster national spirit and pride among British youth. However, it is important to consider the practicality of such an endeavour. Having served in the British Army, I can shed light on the reality.

To make National Service workable, it would require a significant investment of tens of billions of pounds, a shift in the national direction, and nearly a decade of planning and implementation. Unfortunately, as Patrick Benham-Crosswell wrote yesterday in TCW, successive governments have neglected and downsized our Armed Forces. They suffer from underfunding and under-recruitment, with incentives to join eradicated. 

Addressing the lack of discipline and respect in society is not the military’s responsibility: it should not be expected to fix the failures of government. The Conservatives’ announcement of a National Service policy appears to be nothing more than empty electoral talk, lacking tangible action and exhibiting their cynical nature.

The proposal aims to enlist 30,000 18-year-olds into the Army annually. Our current Army consists of 70,000 personnel, half of whom are already overworked officers and NCOs. Doubling the number of private soldiers raises the crucial question of who will train them. Training the trainers, let alone training the recruits, takes years of investment and effort. 

Imagine trying to double the number of students in schools without increasing the number of teachers and buildings. It would take a significant amount of time and resources to train the staff and build the necessary infrastructure. The Armed Forces would be no different.

Another practical concern is accommodation for the recruits. Over the years, both Labour and Tory governments have sold off a significant portion of the barracks or repurposed them to house illegal immigrants. 

What’s the plan when thousands of conscripts fail to show up, walk away, or refuse to serve? How will the military be allowed to respond? Failing to charge, sanction or imprison them would likely result in a breakdown of military discipline. Additionally, considering the impact on the morale of the dedicated volunteers currently serving in the Armed Forces, diluting and further degrading our professional force seems undesirable. 

It is worth asking whether the 10million foreign-born residents in the UK would also be expected to serve. Considering the diverse range of flags seen on our streets every Saturday, it seems not only unlikely that such inclusion would be possible but divisive.  

If our goal is to instil national pride in young people, it would be more effective to focus on improving education and nurturing an appreciation for our history, culture and flag. Only then could a National Service programme be successful. 

As Admiral West and the majority of active and veteran service personnel would attest, any other approach would simply be bonkers.

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Darren Selkus
Darren Selkus
Darren Selkus is Reform UK prospective parliamentary candidate for Hertsmere. He is a former Army Captain.

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