Britain should consider Swedish-style military conscription, former MI6 chief says

5 April 2024, 06:37

The UK has previously been warned conscription may be necessary in the event of all-our war breaking out
The UK has previously been warned conscription may be necessary in the event of all-our war breaking out. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Britain should consider adopting a Swedish-style military conscription system, former MI6 chief Sir Alex Younger has said.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Sir Alex, who ran MI6 between 2014 and 2020, has claimed the UK needs a “wake-up call” with regards to the current state of the army.

Sweden has adopted a selective military conscription system. This means all 18-year-olds fill out an enlistment form, though only some are called up to carry out training.

This was introduced after Russia invaded Crimea in 2014. The Scandinavian nation also joined NATO in February of this year.

Britain's Army is 'too small', the UK has been warned
Britain's Army is 'too small', the UK has been warned. Picture: Getty

“Ultimately, in extremis, I think we’d be looking at something like the model I understand exists in places like Sweden, where the government theoretically has the power to compel people to give their service one way or another but doesn’t exercise it except in areas where it’s really needed,” Sir Alex told the Today podcast.

“You’ll notice on that list is not everyone being called up and going to the drafting station, I think that’s extremely unlikely.”

Read More: UK should consider conscription and introduce national service to deter Russian threat, Nato ally says

Read More: British military drawing up plans for 500,000-strong 'citizen army' as top general warns UK 'stumbling into war'

It comes just weeks after a NATO ally urged Britain to consider adopting a Finnish conscription model to deter aggression from Vladimir Putin.

Krisjanis Karins, Latvia’s foreign minister and former prime minister, said that a ‘total defence’ model was needed in Nato countries to defend against any Russian aggression.

Army chief General Sir Patrick Sanders
Army chief General Sir Patrick Sanders. Picture: Alamy

He pointed out that Latvia, which shares a 133-mile border with Russia, reintroduced conscription after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Under the county’s conscription model, all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 17 must complete an 11-month term in the national service.

Asked if other Nato countries should consider the Latvian model, he told The Telegraph: “We would strongly recommend this. We are developing and fleshing out a system of what we call a total defence involving all parts of civil society.”

The current head of the British Army General Sir Patrick Sanders warn the Government earlier this year of the need to "mobilise" the public if the UK goes to war with Russia.

Sir Patrick wants British men and women to be prepared to fight if Nato goes to war with Russia, who have gained the upper hand in its invasion of Ukraine.

It followed a warning by a senior Nato official that the West faces all-out war with Russia within 20 years.

“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 in January.

He went on: “We cannot afford to make the same mistake today.”“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. But we’ve been here before, and workforce alone does not create capability.”

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Clashes erupt between football fans in Gelsenkirchen ahead of England and Serbia's first Euro 2024 match

Clashes erupt between football fans in Gelsenkirchen ahead of England's first Euro 2024 match against Serbia

Southwark council raised more than £2.6 million by issuing 43,300 fines to motorists

Labour council urged to refund motorists after ‘unfairly’ fining thousands of drivers £2.6million

Police rammed the cow

Officer who rammed cow with police squad car removed from frontline duties

England fans in Gelsenkirchen

Thousands of England fans descend on Gelsenkirchen ahead of Three Lions' first Euro 2024 match against Serbia

Queues at Birmingham airport

Travel chaos strikes major UK airport as passengers stuck in lengthy queues

Police rammed the cow

Owner of cow rammed by police gives update on its condition and says officers should be fired for 'disgusting' incident

Officers shot a man threatening football fans in Hamburg

Man shot by police after brandishing 'axe and molotov cocktail' close to Euro 2024 fan zone

Labour's Wes Streeting has called for a debate with Nigel Farage

Labour's Wes Streeting calls for debate with Nigel Farage to take on 'toxic rhetoric' in 'battle of ideas'

Prince William's children have sent him a Father's Day message

'We love you papa': George, Charlotte and Louis send Prince William Father's Day message in first social media post

Labour and the Conservatives would leave the NHS 'worse off than under austerity', the Nuffield Trust has warned

Labour and Tories would leave NHS 'worse off' than under austerity, health think tank warns

Exclusive
Mark Harper has admitted there is a 'hard fight ahead' for the Conservatives to win the election

Minister admits 'hard fight ahead' as poll suggests 'Tory extinction' - but says no deal to be done with Farage

William and Charles have shared Father's Day messages

Prince William sends touching Father's Day message to Charles with new photo, as King also shares childhood video

Labour and the Conservatives will face off in the July 4 election

Labour landslide could see Tories winning just 72 seats, poll finds, as Rishi Sunak's party faces 'electoral extinction'

Live
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

General Election LIVE: Poll suggests Tory wipe-out on July 4, as Sunak insists 'only election itself matters'

Exclusive
Pooja Kanda with Ronan

Mother of murdered son urges online shops to stop selling knives voluntarily if laws won't ban them

Israel has paused fighting to allow more aid into southern Gaza

Israel announces 'tactical pause' in fighting to allow more aid into southern Gaza