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British military chief urges need for 'citizen army' as Sweden's defense chief warns 'there could be war'

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Britain should train and equip its citizens to be ready to fight a war with Russia, the head of the army said, as Sweden has warned its citizens to brace for possible conflict with Moscow. 

Gen. Sir Patrick Sanders, the outgoing Chief of the General Staff, warned that an increase in reserve forces alone “would not be enough” to fight a land war with Russia, the BBC reported. He said increasing the number of soldiers for a potential conflict would need to be a “whole-of-nation undertaking.”

Sanders spoke of the need for the United Kingdom to maintain its military and cited the threat faced by other nations closer to Russia as Moscow continues its war with Ukraine. 



British Army soldiers, from the Royal Welch Fusiliers Regiment and Iraqi National Guards, reboard a Chinook Helicopter in southern Iraq, during their first joint Eagle Airborne Vehicle Check Point Patrol.  (Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)

“Our friends in eastern and northern Europe, who feel the proximity of the Russian threat more acutely, are already acting prudently, laying the foundations for national mobilization,” he said during a speech at the International Armoured Vehicles conference in London. “As the chairman of the NATO military committee warned just last week, and as the Swedish government has done…taking preparatory steps to enable placing our societies on a war footing when needed are now not merely desirable but essential.”

The British army should expand its size to 120,000 within three years from the current 74,000, he said. However, that isn’t enough, Sanders said, adding that Britain must train and equip a “citizen army.”

“We will not be immune and as the pre-war generation we must similarly prepare – and that is a whole-of-nation undertaking,” he said. “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,” he added. 


Russia bombs residential area in Kyiv

Destroyed shopping center after it was hit in a military strike in the Podilskyi residential district of Kyiv, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 21, 2022 (Photo by Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (Photo by Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The threat of Russia has NATO countries bracing for possible conflict as the war in Ukraine escalates. As Sweden nears NATO membership, supplies are flying off the shelves as some of its citizens remain concerned over how Russia will respond. 

“For a nation for whom peace has been a pleasant companion for almost 210 years, the idea that it is an immoveable constant is conveniently close at hand,” Swedish Civil Defense Minister Carl-Oskar Bohlin said at Folk och Försvars, or “Society and Defense,” annual national conference in Sälen on Sunday.

“But taking comfort in this conclusion has become more dangerous than it has been for a very long time,” he said, according to a government transcript. “Many have said it before me, but let me do so in an official capacity, more plainly and with naked clarity: There could be war in Sweden.”

A British army soldier

Members of the army provide sandbags to flood affected areas of York, Britain December 29, 2015. (Reuters)


The commander in chief of the Swedish armed forces, General Micael Byden, who visited the eastern front of Ukraine in December, also spoke to the conference on Sunday, warning all Swedes to prepare mentally for the possibility of war as their nation is just two steps short of NATO membership.

Fox News Digital’s Danielle Wallace contributed to this report. 


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