National Service

#41
National service worked then but not now. What would we do with huge numbers of light infantry, who can't be sent anywhere dangerous won't help anybody? Remember that NS in Palestine, Cyprus, Korea and Malaya were in a memory skip of those in their mid 20s who'd fought at Alamein, Salerno, Kohima, Normandy and Arnhem. What we have left in the regular army has better things to do than to be low grade social workers trying to reverse 18 years of game boys, McDonalds, entitlement culture and rubbish schools. Also, we don't have a reserve that is visible to the naked eye to provide the follow on commitment and payback on the investment in training. Was it Slim or Wavell who said something to the effect that it wasn't the military's job to sort out 18 years of poor parenting? This would also cost a mint.

"Bad Lads Army" sounds a fun idea but when they tried something similar on thugs in borstals all it produced was thugs who were more confident and who were now fit enough to outrun police.

Also, in 1950 diversity meant having a ginger guy in the platoon (BTW many years ago a NS clerk in the RAF, now a prominent broadcaster, confessed on the radio that he and his mates in the postings branch had been so bored that they'd set about creating an RAF station staffed only by gingers and with nobody between the heights of 5'6" and 6'1": he reckoned the station parades would have been something to behold).

That said, my wonderful, and very recently dead, father in law, and most of his NS mates. seem to have had an absolute ball...They just didn't mention this until 30 years after
 
#42
Today’s Corbynista types simply wouldn’t do it. Those no use degree courses won’t fill themselves. There’d be a mass outpouring of disgust via the use placards sponsored by the Socialist Worker. It would in turn descend into something akin to the poll tax riots in the 90s.
 
#43
lso, in 1950 diversity meant having a ginger guy in the platoon (BTW many years ago a NS clerk in the RAF, now a prominent broadcaster, confessed on the radio that he and his mates in the postings branch had been so bored that they'd set about creating an RAF station staffed only by gingers and with nobody between the heights of 5'6" and 6'1": he reckoned the station parades would have been something to behold).
His spirit lived on in the 'trade squadrons' of the Personnel Management Centre many years after. I worked with the RAF and came across a unit where the Adj and all three clerks were named 'Smith', only marriage foiling their dastardly plan and another where the clerks were 'Salt' and 'Pepper'.
 

Joker62

ADC
Book Reviewer
#44
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.
Very, can you imagine today's youth giving up a year or 2 years worth of freedom, to be told what to do, either military or civilian,compared to the freedom that they have now. Then there would be the eternal whining on when they chose a random date to start said NS programme with those on the first tranche asking why those a year before or older aren't being forced to do it, it would turn into an immense whinefest!
 
#45
A few random points come to mind from reading this thread. Economically, wouldn't it make more sense to invest the resources required for running conscription into making the regular army more attractive as an employer/career? I realise that some of the more bullshit elements of army culture will also have to be done away with.

Both conscription and a regular army need to be supported by culture/society. To have effective conscription there has to be a clear idea of what it's for, as well as mainstream concensus/support in society.

Conscription is not a solution for wayward youth unless a minority of wayward conscripts are mixed with normative ones and the military culture is positive.

In Israel, where I've lived for 40 years, conscription is highly effective however, there are still many many issues and problems associated with it. A lot of the problems I encountered were in cases when conscripts lacked motivation, felt (or knew) they weren't doing anything useful. The idea of conscripting people when they aren't needed is fundamentally flawed.

Both my sons were drafted. The older for 36 months + 12 as a regular, due to the IT training he received. The younger was lucky as the period of draft was reduced to 32. months They worked hard, endured a lot and made it successful and meaningful. The reason for this was their basically positive attitude to life and a sense of perspective about taking the rough with the smooth. One was an IT man in the signals and the other an infantry sergeant.

Observing their progress, I realized that even if I was one of those affluent parents that buys their kids flashy cars for their 16th birthdays and can afford to send them to any university (I'm the opposite of that financially speaking), I could not have bought the priceless team and leadership experience they gained (not to speak of the older one's CCNA and hands on experience with state of the art systems).

Incidentally, when the older one did most of his 36 months (since he was not in teeth arms/field units) he was paid the equivalent of about 85 pounds a month. His mum and I subsidized this with pocket money and this has been the case for the last 70 years - the parents subsidized the low pay of their conscript kids. By the time the younger one joined up there had been unprecented raises in pay. In his 3rd year and being teeth arms- an infantryman, he was receiving the equivalent of about 430 pounds a month. Very nice indeed considering that food, accommodation and uniforms are all provided free and conscripts have free use of public transport.
 
Last edited:
#46
Yes, and sending NS conscripts off to war was hugely unpopular with the public.
Yes, some did go off to war, but for a lot of NS conscripts, it was two years as a dogsbody in a camp somewhere waiting desperately to escape back to the real world.
There were no big protests or matches demanding the retention of what by the end of the 50’s was a pretty universally hated burden on the young.
It was nothing more than a political fudge to get a bigger armed Forces than the Governments of the day were willing to pay for.
National service was discontinued because of the withdrawal from Empire and a slight thaw in the Cold War when Khrushchev became a little more liberal. There were no big protests AGAINST National Service in the 1950s. That said I am not an advocate for the return of National Service.

SOME National Servicemen went off to war? The Malayan Emergency went on virtually throughout the National Service era, Palestine for the first 3, the Korean War lasted 3 years, then there was the Mau Mau campaign in Kenya, active service in Cyprus, the Suez Campaign, sporadic unrest in Aden Colony and the Oman. I'd say a goodly number of NS guys saw a bit of Active Service.
 
#47
Well firstly it clearly behaves like it does, but my question is about non military national service which you said is unacceptable.
I didn't comment on non military National Service. I said ''Conscription for any reason other than military necessity is outrageous''

Maybe I should have said conscription into the Armed Forces for any reason other than military necessity is outrageous.
 
Last edited:
#48
Are you talking about guys who were motivated enough to sign up to the AR (or whatever they're called this afternoon), do the training, give up weekends etc, and extrapolating this to conscripts?
I was actually thinking of the gernation snowflake who were out in FOBs and PBs, both regular and reserve.
 
#50
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 ***********
Funny you should mention "benefits"....if ya ken whit I mean!;);)
A bit of R.O.I. might not go amiss with some of the cylical 4 toothed single-celled oxygen thieves in my area.
Mind you my street was ever so grateful to the Ice & pill dealing scumbag directly across the road on Welfare sponsored freebie everything .who OD'd / topped herself in the early hours of this morning and got carted off with galloping rigor mortis board in the meat waggon around 11am. I swear, the poor Labby sniffer dog wiped it's paws on the way out.
Next.....

(OK..."galloping rigor mortis" is a bit of an oximoron...but hey it's Friday.)
 
#51
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.......

Oh dear, send us another piccy of you in your shorts running up the steps in the US Capitol ....or read this link.

Counting Religion in Britain, January 2018 - British Religion in Numbers

 
#52
There's two very different concepts being mixed up here. Compulsory service in Armed Forces and compulsory service in any other sort of civil programme, which is what Macron is on about. Refering to both as National Service is unhelpful and confuses any debate.
 
#53
Funny you should mention "benefits"....if ya ken whit I mean!;);)
A bit of R.O.I. might not go amiss with some of the cylical 4 toothed single-celled oxygen thieves in my area.
Mind you my street was ever so grateful to the Ice & pill dealing scumbag directly across the road on Welfare sponsored freebie everything .who OD'd / topped herself in the early hours of this morning and got carted off with galloping rigor mortis board in the meat waggon around 11am. I swear, the poor Labby sniffer dog wiped it's paws on the way out.
Next.....

(OK..."galloping rigor mortis" is a bit of an oximoron...but hey it's Friday.)
And we had Teddy boys last time around.

Somebody would number crunch and have to ask the very serious question. What is several billion actually getting us.

An interesting point that it does raise. A phycologist called Geert Hoffsted has done a lot of work on national characters. The U.K. (and Ireland) with their lack of conscription are the most individualist country’s in Europe. I often wonder if that’s something to do with a lack of common experience.

Compare countries - Hofstede Insights
 
#54
I think NS faced much less opposition back in the 50s because those joining would have grown up during WW2 and remembered how it felt to be at war and with the Cold War starting thought there was a genuine threat to the country.

The generation today have been bought up following unpopular conflicts and interventions, bad political treatment of the military and constant cuts. I don't think they would feel the same sense of duty those in the 50s felt.
 
#56
National service worked then but not now.
It didn't really. The army (and the RAF and to a lesser extent the RN) was crammed full of people who were for the most part deeply resentful of the unwarranted intrusion into their early civilian careers. They were woefully underpaid, very often lived in atrocious conditions and were frequently underemployed and without a meaningful role. Discipline had to be maintained in mindlessly petty and onerous ways and most NS men were simply counting the days until their time was done. Nearly all maintained a 'chuff chart', a kind of improvised calendar counting off the days until discharge back into civvy street.

Professional soldiers were taken away from their normal roles to drill, instruct and supervise men who really did not want to be there and who responded accordingly.

Very few were sad to see the back of it.
 
#57
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.
Never knew that BAOR Vets were out there somewhere sunny?.....'spose a few hate filled nights in the Bogside must have been an eye opener to the snowflakes too?
 
#58
I

Professional soldiers were taken away from their normal roles to drill, instruct and supervise men who really did not want to be there and who responded accordingly.

Very few were sad to see the back of it.
Where did you read that load of cobblers?

I served for my first five years along with National Servicemen who were trying all the time to compete with me professionally. NS or Reg, one was either regarded as a 'Good Op', or a 'Bum Op'. No other criteria applied.

When I went through training, though my basic was all with Regulars teaching Regulars, once I got to trade training, all my immediate trainers were NS JNCOs, not 'professional soldiers taken away from their normal roles', while the SNCOs were taking only upgrading, so mostly Regular courses and passing through on normal postings which got them 'Instructor' brownie points on their records. Strange to relate, even before NS finished, there were Regulars regarded as "Catterick Commandos", who spent most of their time as trainers and couldn't hack it in the real army, writing pamphlets not subject to amendment and increasingly removed from the source documents.

Your last sentence conflicts with the figure quoted earlier, that a remarkably high percentage regarded it as a positive experience.
 
#59
Speaking as a total outsider I'd much prefer the people who defend my country to be willing, professional volunteers rather than a ragbag army of conscripts who are there because of the faulty memories of people who think they remembered what happened 60 years ago.
 
#60
Where did you read that load of cobblers?
The Best Years of Their Lives by Trevor Royle would be one source. Although some former NS men would cite the comradeship and meeting people from other walks of life and for a few, travel to parts of the world that they would not otherwise have seen as plus points, for most it was considered an irksome waste of two years, where 'the skive' was counted as a victory against the system.
 

Similar threads

Top