(DailyVantage.com) – UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace expressed envy over the mandatory military conscription system used by Sweden and Finland on March 29 following a meeting with Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonson.
After the two ministers signed a letter pledging that the British Army would receive 14 Swedish artillery guns, Wallace sparked controversy by saying that he was “envious” of Sweden and Finland’s military reserves, which he noted were strong due to both counties’ mandatory conscription laws.
Wallace — who called Sweden’s mandatory conscription a “great success” — went on to express his belief that conscription and a strong reserve “often go hand-in-hand,” before concluding that he would “love to have a model like that,” in the UK.
In a statement released shortly after, the UK Ministry of Defense argued that Wallace had merely praised the reserves models of Sweden and Finland and did not explicitly state that he wanted to reintroduce conscription in the UK.
In 2017, seven years after it had been abolished, Sweden reintroduced conscription for both men and women, forcing thousands of young people to serve in the military for at least twelve months. In Finland, all men between the ages of 18 and 60 are obligated to serve in the military.
The UK government previously made military service mandatory in both the First and Second World Wars. It continued to be used from the end of World War 2 until 1960, when it was abolished. Several public figures have called for a return to mandatory military service, including Prince Harry, who revealed in his book Spare that he had killed 25 people while serving in the British Army.
A 2015 poll found that just 27 percent of Brits would be willing to fight for their country in the event of a war. While other Western countries polled higher, including France and the United States at 29 percent and 44 percent respectively, many polled even lower than the UK. Just 18 percent of Germans said they would fight for their country, while in Japan, a mere 10 percent said they would be willing to see combat.
In comparison, 59 percent of Russians said they would be willing to fight in a war, while 71 percent of people in China said the same.
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