National Service

#1
Italy, France and Germany are all thinking about national service again. Why shouldn't Britain?

Ok it’s bold I am not shouting just cut and paste.

So anyone got a link to cut and paste the telegraph article?

Having Served in Germany and Italy with their national service men. Most were good and did what they had to but who wants to join up and cut grass, work in a mess, bar for a small monthly wage and be fucced about for 18 months?

Not worth it
 
Last edited:

AfghanAndy

On ROPS
On ROPs
#2
Italy, France and Germany are all thinking about national service again. Why shouldn't Britain?

Ok it’s bold I am not shouting just up and paste.

So anyone got a link to cut and paste the telegraph article?

Having Served in Germany and Italy with national service men.

Not worth it
It would never wash politically and it would be difficult to justify the costs versus the benefits.

I’m with you on this one, as I think generation snowflake need a kick ***********
 
#3
Italy, France and Germany are all thinking about national service again. Why shouldn't Britain?
This one:
It could provide a cure for division and identity politics, but discussing it is still taboo

Last week, the cafe where I usually take my morning coffee bade farewell to one of its waiters – an industrious young guy who was returning to his native Greece. I hope you are not fleeing Brexit Britain, I ventured. “Not at all,” he said. “I am going back to do my military service, as I must.”

I was obviously vaguely aware that they still have conscription in Greece – one of six European countries that maintain compulsory military service – but it was nevertheless still something of an eye-opener. It seemed strangely out of kilter with the licence of the times that this man had no choice in the matter...
Rest of the article:
Or is it? Italy’s new interior minister and deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, says he’s thinking of reintroducing it to deal with a wayward youth. “Above and beyond 'rights' I would like to see a return to there being 'duties'", he said last weekend. Lots of Italians agree with him.

Nor is the sentiment confined to political firebrands such as Salvini. Sweden recently reintroduced the draft, while nearly two decades after it was scrapped, President Macron has vowed to plough ahead with a campaign promise to bring back some form of compulsory national service in France, albeit in watered-down form. Less than eight years after it was abolished, Germany too is discussing the possibility after a poll showed a clear majority of the public in favour. As a political idea, national service is plainly making something of a comeback.

But not, beyond some high-profile supporters such as Prince Harry and Michael Caine, here in Britain. A quick trawl of Google reveals that few if any mainstream British politicians advocate such an approach. This should not surprise; there is no good military or economic argument for it.

Indeed, the British armed forces are on the whole strongly opposed to bringing it back. Plainly they would like more resource, but in principle, a highly trained professional army is much preferred to the idea of acting as a kind of general boot camp for younger cohorts.

The intellectual and economic case against compulsion is in any case long established. The Eighteenth Century British economist, Adam Smith, wrote of an “irresistible superiority which a well-regulated standing [all-volunteer] army has over a militia [conscription]”, based on the idea that not everyone makes a good soldier. It therefore makes sense to pay those that are inclined to soldiery to defend the realm in our stead, leaving the rest of us to pursue more gainful work.

Yet the case for reintroducing some form of national service is not really about military and economic objectives; rather, it is an almost entirely social one, and crucially it is for the purpose of addressing one of the great scourges of our time – identity politics. It is one of the great ironies of the age that at a time of unprecedented mass migration and communication, citizens have become increasingly ghettoized along class, ethnic, and religious lines. We all live in our own little worlds, and in many cases will have more in common with someone living in an entirely different country than the family just down the street.

The idea of national service is to mix things up, to force people to break bread with one another, to share experiences, to teach responsibility and self discipline, and perhaps most crucially of all, to instill a greater sense of social cohesion and nationality.

Not that this was the intended purpose of peacetime national service when it existed in Britain from 1948 to the early 60s. The rationale back then was much more straightforward – boots on the ground to serve the needs of empire and the emerging cold war. It was cheap, almost slave labour.

Yet on the whole, people have fond memories of it. The Carry On series took its name from the first of the genre – Carry On Sergeant, which chronicles the adventures of a group of reluctant conscripts at the fictional Heathercrest National Service Depot. Jolly jinks, but deep within our national culture. National Service spoke to our sense of belonging.

According to Richard Vinen’s masterful history of the British draft, National Service: Conscription in Britain, 1945-1963, 97 percent of those who became temporary officers later claimed to have enjoyed it, and perhaps more surprisingly so did 87 percent of the other ranks. Desertion was rare.

It may not have done much to break down class barriers and improve social mobility; the evidence for this is thin to non-existent. But for many young men, it was a defining and liberating experience that turned around lives. And it was, above all, an equal duty that applied to all, regardless of class or background. In this respect, Salvini is on the money; sense of duty has become lost in our obsession with individual and minority rights.
And in summary:
I’m not saying that reintroduction of military service is necessarily the solution to these problems; it would be expensive, it would be inappropriate for some, and would be most unlikely to command a political consensus. Yet other countries are at least having that debate; in Britain, it is still largely taboo.
I'll throw into the debate the Continuation Order to keep a standing Army:
Armed Forces Act (Continuation) Order 2018 - Hansard

I believe this comes from the 1688 BoR and the Army used to have to be approved by parliament annually and it was changed to every five years,
 
Last edited:

diverman

LE
Book Reviewer
#5
No the full article, I am not at work so cannot log into my 1article a week Account. Buggers.
As requested the body of the article.


Last week, the cafe where I usually take my morning coffee bade farewell to one of its waiters – an industrious young guy who was returning to his native Greece. I hope you are not fleeing Brexit Britain, I ventured. “Not at all,” he said. “I am going back to do my military service, as I must.”
I was obviously vaguely aware that they still have conscription in Greece – one of six European countries that maintain compulsory military service – but it was nevertheless still something of an eye-opener. It seemed strangely out of kilter with the licence of the times that this man had no choice in the matter but to return home and do his time.
Or is it? Italy’s new interior minister and deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, says he’s thinking of reintroducing it to deal with a wayward youth. “Above and beyond 'rights' I would like to see a return to there being 'duties'", he said last weekend. Lots of Italians agree with him.

We are doing well to study the costs, ways and timings for evaluating if, how and when to reintroduce – for a few months – obligatory military and civil service to our boys and girlsMatteo Salvini

Nor is the sentiment confined to political firebrands such as Salvini. Sweden recently reintroduced the draft, while nearly two decades after it was scrapped, President Macron has vowed to plough ahead with a campaign promise to bring back some form of compulsory national service in France, albeit in watered-down form. Less than eight years after it was abolished, Germany too is discussing the possibility after a poll showed a clear majority of the public in favour. As a political idea, national service is plainly making something of a comeback.
But not, beyond some high-profile supporters such as Prince Harry and Michael Caine, here in Britain. A quick trawl of Google reveals that few if any mainstream British politicians advocate such an approach. This should not surprise; there is no good military or economic argument for it.
Indeed, the British armed forces are on the whole strongly opposed to bringing it back. Plainly they would like more resource, but in principle, a highly trained professional army is much preferred to the idea of acting as a kind of general boot camp for younger cohorts.
The intellectual and economic case against compulsion is in any case long established. The Eighteenth Century British economist, Adam Smith, wrote of an “irresistible superiority which a well-regulated standing [all-volunteer] army has over a militia [conscription]”, based on the idea that not everyone makes a good soldier. It therefore makes sense to pay those that are inclined to soldiery to defend the realm in our stead, leaving the rest of us to pursue more gainful work.


Italy's Matteo Salvini: proposes bringing back conscription to teach citizens to put duty before rights Credit: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Yet the case for reintroducing some form of national service is not really about military and economic objectives; rather, it is an almost entirely social one, and crucially it is for the purpose of addressing one of the great scourges of our time – identity politics. It is one of the great ironies of the age that at a time of unprecedented mass migration and communication, citizens have become increasingly ghettoized along class, ethnic, and religious lines. We all live in our own little worlds, and in many cases will have more in common with someone living in an entirely different country than the family just down the street.
The idea of national service is to mix things up, to force people to break bread with one another, to share experiences, to teach responsibility and self discipline, and perhaps most crucially of all, to instill a greater sense of social cohesion and nationality.
Not that this was the intended purpose of peacetime national service when it existed in Britain from 1948 to the early 60s. The rationale back then was much more straightforward – boots on the ground to serve the needs of empire and the emerging cold war. It was cheap, almost slave labour.
Yet on the whole, people have fond memories of it. The Carry On series took its name from the first of the genre – Carry On Sergeant, which chronicles the adventures of a group of reluctant conscripts at the fictional Heathercrest National Service Depot. Jolly jinks, but deep within our national culture. National Service spoke to our sense of belonging.
According to Richard Vinen’s masterful history of the British draft, National Service: Conscription in Britain, 1945-1963, 97 percent of those who became temporary officers later claimed to have enjoyed it, and perhaps more surprisingly so did 87 percent of the other ranks. Desertion was rare.
It may not have done much to break down class barriers and improve social mobility; the evidence for this is thin to non-existent. But for many young men, it was a defining and liberating experience that turned around lives. And it was, above all, an equal duty that applied to all, regardless of class or background. In this respect, Salvini is on the money; sense of duty has become lost in our obsession with individual and minority rights.
I’m not saying that reintroduction of military service is necessarily the solution to these problems; it would be expensive, it would be inappropriate for some, and would be most unlikely to command a political consensus. Yet other countries are at least having that debate; in Britain, it is still largely taboo.


Unfortunately the Emperor still makes work for idle brains.
 
#7
The practicalities. When we had National Service we had universal conscription with the only exceptions I know of being coal miners and merchant seamen. This meant that there was remarkably little resentment when 'called up', because it happened to everyone and became a rite of passage. The army was 370,000 strong, there were 63 line infantry regiments, not counting Guards, each with a depot processing two platoons' worth of recruits every fortnight, while the Corps were taking proportionate numbers. I can only speak for R Signals and we had one full Regiment for basic training, another five Regiments and two spare semi-independent squadrons taking trade training, each a sausage machine replenished at the front end every fortnight. Replicate to some extent for RN and RAF.

The vast majority of the MOD estate used for training alone at that time has now been sold off, we haven't the numbers serving today even to provide the DS, the overseas garrisons the conscripts were serving in after training are long gone, so what to do with them anyway?

If you consider selective service as happened in the USA, where local draft boards considered who should serve, just imagine the resentment of those stiffed for it against those who escaped. Combined with the civvy reaction generally against the Vietnam War, this is what eventually killed US conscription.

It just ain't practical.
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
The article referenced Richard Vinen’s National Service: Conscription in Britain, 1945-1963. I would absolutely recommend this as essential reading for anyone who is interested in Britain’s experience of post war conscription.
 

AfghanAndy

On ROPS
On ROPs
#9
As requested the body of the article.


Last week, the cafe where I usually take my morning coffee bade farewell to one of its waiters – an industrious young guy who was returning to his native Greece. I hope you are not fleeing Brexit Britain, I ventured. “Not at all,” he said. “I am going back to do my military service, as I must.”
I was obviously vaguely aware that they still have conscription in Greece – one of six European countries that maintain compulsory military service – but it was nevertheless still something of an eye-opener. It seemed strangely out of kilter with the licence of the times that this man had no choice in the matter but to return home and do his time.
Or is it? Italy’s new interior minister and deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, says he’s thinking of reintroducing it to deal with a wayward youth. “Above and beyond 'rights' I would like to see a return to there being 'duties'", he said last weekend. Lots of Italians agree with him.

We are doing well to study the costs, ways and timings for evaluating if, how and when to reintroduce – for a few months – obligatory military and civil service to our boys and girlsMatteo Salvini

Nor is the sentiment confined to political firebrands such as Salvini. Sweden recently reintroduced the draft, while nearly two decades after it was scrapped, President Macron has vowed to plough ahead with a campaign promise to bring back some form of compulsory national service in France, albeit in watered-down form. Less than eight years after it was abolished, Germany too is discussing the possibility after a poll showed a clear majority of the public in favour. As a political idea, national service is plainly making something of a comeback.
But not, beyond some high-profile supporters such as Prince Harry and Michael Caine, here in Britain. A quick trawl of Google reveals that few if any mainstream British politicians advocate such an approach. This should not surprise; there is no good military or economic argument for it.
Indeed, the British armed forces are on the whole strongly opposed to bringing it back. Plainly they would like more resource, but in principle, a highly trained professional army is much preferred to the idea of acting as a kind of general boot camp for younger cohorts.
The intellectual and economic case against compulsion is in any case long established. The Eighteenth Century British economist, Adam Smith, wrote of an “irresistible superiority which a well-regulated standing [all-volunteer] army has over a militia [conscription]”, based on the idea that not everyone makes a good soldier. It therefore makes sense to pay those that are inclined to soldiery to defend the realm in our stead, leaving the rest of us to pursue more gainful work.


Italy's Matteo Salvini: proposes bringing back conscription to teach citizens to put duty before rights Credit: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Yet the case for reintroducing some form of national service is not really about military and economic objectives; rather, it is an almost entirely social one, and crucially it is for the purpose of addressing one of the great scourges of our time – identity politics. It is one of the great ironies of the age that at a time of unprecedented mass migration and communication, citizens have become increasingly ghettoized along class, ethnic, and religious lines. We all live in our own little worlds, and in many cases will have more in common with someone living in an entirely different country than the family just down the street.
The idea of national service is to mix things up, to force people to break bread with one another, to share experiences, to teach responsibility and self discipline, and perhaps most crucially of all, to instill a greater sense of social cohesion and nationality.
Not that this was the intended purpose of peacetime national service when it existed in Britain from 1948 to the early 60s. The rationale back then was much more straightforward – boots on the ground to serve the needs of empire and the emerging cold war. It was cheap, almost slave labour.
Yet on the whole, people have fond memories of it. The Carry On series took its name from the first of the genre – Carry On Sergeant, which chronicles the adventures of a group of reluctant conscripts at the fictional Heathercrest National Service Depot. Jolly jinks, but deep within our national culture. National Service spoke to our sense of belonging.
According to Richard Vinen’s masterful history of the British draft, National Service: Conscription in Britain, 1945-1963, 97 percent of those who became temporary officers later claimed to have enjoyed it, and perhaps more surprisingly so did 87 percent of the other ranks. Desertion was rare.
It may not have done much to break down class barriers and improve social mobility; the evidence for this is thin to non-existent. But for many young men, it was a defining and liberating experience that turned around lives. And it was, above all, an equal duty that applied to all, regardless of class or background. In this respect, Salvini is on the money; sense of duty has become lost in our obsession with individual and minority rights.
I’m not saying that reintroduction of military service is necessarily the solution to these problems; it would be expensive, it would be inappropriate for some, and would be most unlikely to command a political consensus. Yet other countries are at least having that debate; in Britain, it is still largely taboo.


Unfortunately the Emperor still makes work for idle brains.
The Canadians conducted an in-depth study post WW2 attempting to understand why their militia out performed the regulars.

We’ve done some of our best work
With conscripts
 
#10
Italy, France and Germany are all thinking about national service again. Why shouldn't Britain?

Ok it’s bold I am not shouting just cut and paste.

So anyone got a link to cut and paste the telegraph article?

Having Served in Germany and Italy with their national service men. Most were good and did what they had to but who wants to join up and cut grass, work in a mess, bar for a small monthly wage and be fucced about for 18 months?

Not worth it
Given the religious and ethnic diversity of the 'British' population, I'm not sure the Government or security services would be that keen on equipping our new and growing population with the skills to kill people efficiently and effectively on the streets of London or Manchester.......
 
#11
Is there really an Army requirement for washing coal and whitewashing coal bunkers?
The old man who was a regular always regarded NS as the biggest waste of time ever dreamed up by man.
'How many pointless non jobs can we find for this disgruntled lot to do'?
 
#12
"The idea of national service is to mix things up, to force people to break bread with one another, to share experiences, to teach responsibility and self discipline, and perhaps most crucially of all, to instill a greater sense of social cohesion and nationality. "

So, basically, it's about social engineering.
 
#13
If we bring back National Service, then we should bring back Hanging. And give 18yr olds the choice
 
#15
... I'm not sure the Government or security services would be that keen on equipping our new and growing population with the skills to kill people efficiently and effectively on the streets of ... Manchester.......
Quite. That's what the LDs are for.
 
#16
"The idea of national service is to mix things up, to force people to break bread with one another, to share experiences, to teach responsibility and self discipline, and perhaps most crucially of all, to instill a greater sense of social cohesion and nationality. "

So, basically, it's about social engineering.
You couldn't make it up could you. Conscription for any reason other than military necessity is outrageous. I have been perplexed for years by the amount of 'old n bold' who seem to favour the idea. Victor Meldrews the lot of em.

As for the younger breed of 'experts' who actually think conscription might 'instill a greater sense of social cohesion and nationality' they are deluded to say the least.
 
#17
I think that everyone is thinking inside the box a little here.

In my mind, National Service doesn't have to be military service, but instead, you could suddenly have a large "force" of available labour aged 18-20 (or similar) for all sorts of projects. They could be employed in clearing rubbish from the streets, clearing away graffiti or things like planting new woodland for National Parks and the like.

I might be naive, but I could see it being a triple win of cleaning things up a little, giving people a bit of pride back in their communities and also lowering unemployment amongst youngsters.
 
#19
Is there really an Army requirement for washing coal and whitewashing coal bunkers?
The old man who was a regular always regarded NS as the biggest waste of time ever dreamed up by man.
'How many pointless non jobs can we find for this disgruntled lot to do'?
Not my experience.

Take Jim. He was called up a bit before I joined. Volunteered for para training - Signals pre-para, P Coy, Jumps. "Welcome to 16 Para Bde Sig Sqn, (later 216)". "Not bloody likely, I'm not spending my time in Aldershot, here's your wings back." Posted to Cyprus, did his trade with me the rest of his time. Lovely bloke, up for anything, volunteered for patrols with the best of 'em.

Many years later I'm in Hong Kong and we are hosting the local R Signals Association. I am assigned to this bloke working for Cable and Wireless. After a bit he volunteers, "It was NS that got me this job, you know."

"Oh yes, how's that, were you posted here?"

"No, I was Post Office Telephones before I was called up, and when I joined the bastards posted me to Colly. I felt cheated, so when I went back to the PO and this job came up in the house magazine I applied and I've been here over ten years now."

For many it appeared as their one chance of adventure before settling down. Remember that Exchange Control Regs meant that unless you were involved in exports you could probably not travel much further than France with the limit on foreign exchange that was applied, so gap years travelling the world and even holidays in the Costas were out of reach to Joe at the time.
 

AfghanAndy

On ROPS
On ROPs
#20
Would any volunteer really want to rely on a member of generation snowflake if the shit hit the fan?
Generation snowflake have out performed BOAR veterans in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Although I sense what you mean is that quite a few of generation snowflake who have opted not to serve may get a dose of reality if forced to serve.
 

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