Defending Britain: A call for preparedness, inclusion and investment

As I reflect on the current geopolitical landscape and the looming possibility of conflict, I can’t help but feel a sense of urgency for Britain to be ready to defend itself. Recently, General Sir Patrick Sanders, the outgoing Chief of the General Staff, issued a stark warning about the potential for war with Russia, sparking a crucial conversation about our nation’s preparedness and the necessary investments to safeguard our future.

The need for preparedness echoes loudly in today’s uncertain times.

The consensus is clear – we must be ready to repel any potential misadventure from Russia. History has taught us that readiness is not a luxury but a strategic necessity. From military leaders to concerned citizens, the call for preparedness emphasizes the need for a robust defence apparatus.

However, preparedness alone is not enough. General Sir Patrick Sanders, a vocal critic of troop cuts and military spending reductions, urges substantial investments in our armed forces. He emphasizes the urgency of expanding the size of the army and highlights the importance of well-trained, well-equipped soldiers who are adequately compensated for their service. Our strength doesn’t just lie in numbers but in capabilities and resilience.

Amid discussions of military strength, we must also recognize the unique power embedded in Britain’s diversity and inclusion. Our nation’s strength extends beyond military might to the unity forged by individuals from diverse backgrounds who call Britain their home. To harness this strength, it is imperative that all citizens, regardless of their origins, feel included and valued in matters of national defence. Inclusion is not only a moral imperative but a strategic advantage.

True national strength is not solely measured in the might of our armed forces but in the collective will and resilience of our people.

Investments should be directed not only at military hardware but also towards the human capital that forms the backbone of our nation. This involves ensuring that soldiers are not only well-equipped on the battlefield but are also supported in their overall well-being, from training and pay to living conditions.

As we witness Russia’s actions on the global stage, it becomes increasingly inevitable that Britain may find itself in a war-like scenario. The conflict in Ukraine serves as a stark reminder of the fragility of the world order. In the face of this inevitability, the question arises: How do we fortify ourselves against potential threats?

The answer lies in a proactive approach to peace. This involves not only preparing for potential conflicts but also actively working to prevent them. The power of diplomacy, international cooperation, and strategic alliances should not be underestimated. By fortifying our diplomatic efforts, we can address the root causes of conflicts and foster an environment where military responses become a last resort.

In the words of General Sir Patrick Sanders, “Ukraine brutally illustrates that regular armies start wars; citizen armies win them.”

This serves as a poignant reminder that the strength of a nation lies in the unity of its people. As we prepare for an uncertain future, the call for national unity becomes paramount. It transcends political affiliations and personal differences, rallying all citizens under the common cause of safeguarding our nation.

While citizens play a crucial role in the defence of the nation, the responsibility lies heavily on the shoulders of government and leadership. It is the duty of the government to ensure that the armed forces are adequately funded, well-prepared, and reflective of the diverse tapestry that is Britain. A commitment to inclusivity and investment in both defence and human capital should be at the forefront of policy-making.

In navigating the complexities of the modern world, the path to a secure and resilient Britain requires a multifaceted approach. It involves preparedness for potential conflicts, substantial investments in the armed forces, a commitment to inclusion and diversity, and a proactive stance towards peace. As we stand at the crossroads of uncertainty, the choices we make today will reverberate through history. Britain’s strength lies not only in its military might but in the unity of its people, ready to defend their home, inclusive and resolute in the face of challenges.




* Mo Waqas is a member in Middlesbrough and the PPC for Middlesbrough and Thornaby East.

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  • Mary Fulton 26th Jan '24 - 6:01pm

    I worry that much of the talk about war with Russia is nothing more than our population being prepared so they will more readily accept NATO intervention in Ukraine when it becomes clear that Russia would otherwise win.

  • Steve Trevethan 26th Jan '24 - 6:31pm

    Thank you for an interesting and relevant essay.

    Might it be that past and present, evidence avoiding/blind neoliberal austerity, has weakened and continues to weaken our social, economic and military fabrics?

    How do the present general well-being of our society, economy and military compare with what they were at the start of the Falklands conflict?

  • Martin Gray 26th Jan '24 - 7:58pm

    Not sure what credible evidence exists that Russia poses a threat to these shores. Sunaks £2 billion package in this brutal stalemate will soon end as the rest have – requests for further assistance..How many more billions & when will it end …

  • Simon Robinson 26th Jan '24 - 8:17pm

    What credible evidence exists that Russia poses a threat? I would have thought the fact that Russia actually has carried out attacks on the UK would be sufficient evidence. Remember the Salisbury poisonings? Or the killing of Alexander Litvinenko? Add to that persistent cyber-attacks that actually are regularly carried out on the UK by Russia ( or the frequent unauthorized incursions by Russian military aircraft into UK airspace (

  • Martin Gray 26th Jan '24 - 9:02pm

    @Simon – you think that equates to a credible risk to these shores ? ..Countries of all persuasions have been engaging in cyber attacks for years . As for air incursions – again this isn’t nothing new . There is no credible evidence that Russia poses a territorial threat to our borders. State sponsored assassinations were not an attack on the integrity of these lands – as despicable as they were. The US & UK carried out drone attacks in Afghanistan that was in fact state sponsored assassinations on a scale that dwarfed anything that happened in Salisbury ..

  • Mick Taylor 27th Jan '24 - 7:38am

    Spot on Martin Gray. This talk is a ploy to justify the armed forces getting more money and to worry the population in the hope that they will turn to the Tories. There is no credible threat to the UK from Russia.

  • Steve Trevethan 27th Jan '24 - 10:53am

    Might this alleged Russia threat be a form of the classic power ploy of creating/inflating an external threat to divert attention from internal problems/errors?

  • So a country that invades another country is no threat ? What planet do you live on ?

  • @nvelope…Plenty of countries have been invaded – none of which has effected our borders …It’s neocon tub thumping rhetoric that wants the North American military industrial complex to continue in it’s very profitable quest. When I see a Russian paratrooper land in my rose beds then I’ll believe it ..

  • Steve Trevethan 27th Jan '24 - 12:44pm

    Considering how young people have been, and are, so badly treated by successive governments, why would [m]any of them consider fighting, and possibly dying, for such an exploitative neoliberal set up?

  • Having read the article I’m reminded of the WW1 poster, “Your Country Needs You”..

    If anything Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows that Russia is NOT a threat; if it can’t win a decisive victory there it has no chance against NATO, with or without the USA..

  • nvelope2003 27th Jan '24 - 5:25pm

    Russia may not win the war on Ukraine but the colossal amount of damage and suffering that has been caused should make people act in a way that at the very least they would be deterred from trying it again. Russia has a history of attacking its neighbours and seizing more territory. Because of this it is by a considerable amount the biggest country in the world and wishes to continue its expansion. It is not a country that could be trusted not to have a go at its neighbours if the ruler wished to do so. It has apparently made quite a lot of profit from its activities. I doubt if that money will be used to improve the life of ordinary people. I accept that all nations have engaged in attempts to conquer others but that does not mean we should not try to ensure that we are not conquered. Even our flawed democracy is worth protecting against the growing number of nations who wish to destroy it.

  • Mick Taylor, I think you’re wrong about the threat to the UK, and the government (of every stripe) has been desperately naive over the last 30 years to reduce the size of the UK armed forces. Yet, even if you don’t agree, there is certainly a credible threat to some of our allies. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania for example. And why did Finland recently join NATO? Presumably, their government was duped by its armed forces too?

  • Mark Frankel 28th Jan '24 - 9:12am

    Russia definitely poses a threat to UK interests. It has been attacking international infrastructure such as sub-sea cables and engaging in cyber attacks, not to mention outright assassination. Even more seriously it threatens our eastern European, Baltic and Scandinavian allies. I don’t know what in detail our response should be but the key point is don’t trust Putin.

  • Only the most naive would think Russia is not our major threat and we have to be ready in case Trump wins in November, we are facing the most critical threat since Berlin in 48, I am just old enough to remember hearing snippets of that on the radio and pictures in the paper.

  • David Garlick 28th Jan '24 - 12:04pm

    Our defence capability has been depleted to the point where concern is growing. Not to be prepared would be at best unwise. I would sign up for whatever Dad’s Army would be renamed. Mum and Dad’s Army perhaps…

  • Envelope2003 27th Jan ’24 – 11:07am…..So a country that invades another country is no threat ? What planet do you live on ?

    Vietnam, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya for starters..So the difference is that USA/UK are ‘peacekeeping invaders’ whilst Russia is a ‘warmongering invader’?..

  • Errrr…
    The USA never invaded Vietnam, China did in 1979.

  • Paul Barker, Nit picking..Although, apart from ‘special ops’, US ground troops did not operate in the DRV the unrestricted bombing of Operation Linebacker and Linebacker II counts as ‘invasion’ in my mind…
    BTW..Why not address the others on my list?

  • Mick Taylor 29th Jan '24 - 3:56pm

    As someone who lived through and protested against the Vietnam War, Paul Barker is technically correct. The USA was involved in fighting North Vietnam as allies of the South Vietnamese government. American troops were in Vietnam at the invitation of the South Vietnamese government. The war between South and North Vietnam raged from 1955-1975, though the USA exited in 1973. At no time did the USA invade North Vietnam. The Vietnam war was, on the face of it, just a war between N and S Vietnam, but it was, ion reality, a proxy war between the USA and the USSR.
    The word invasion suggests entering a country with the aim of overthrowing the government and imposing another, but it also suggests that the invading country intends to take the country for itself. Libya and Panama do qualify, but I am uncertain whether Iraq counts. Afghanistan could be argued to be like Vietnam with the USA invited to assist the current government, just as the USSR assisted the previous communist government of that same country.

  • David Symonds 29th Jan '24 - 6:03pm

    The call for conscription seems to have come from nowhere though it was Labour MP Arnold Shaw in the 70s who thought Tories usually benefited from this type of talk and it could be a party device of theirs to try and mask their failures by a bit of jingoism.

  • Tristan Ward 29th Jan '24 - 9:56pm

    This from Wd Lucas, Lib Dem PPC for Cities of Westminster and London, will be worth a read

    New Cold War: Putin’s Russia and the Threat to the West

  • nvelope2003 30th Jan '24 - 4:31pm

    expats. I did not say that no other country apart from Russia was a threat to the UK. Many other countries could be a threat in certain circumstances. The only country which is no longer a threat to us is the one which has already effectively taken us over because its ruling elite and many of its people wanted it and even take every opportunity to rejoice in it.

  • Peter Hirst 5th Feb '24 - 3:29pm

    Armed conflict acting alone will never solve anything in today’s world. I agree collaboration, diplomacy and alliances are what is needed. We need to work as closely as possible with the eu in defence and surveillance to protect our continent. We should also reduce our reliance on electronic systems or improve their resilience to interference.

  • Peter Chambers 16th Feb '24 - 5:29pm

    For those not convinced about the very shrunken UK military this video by Dr Mark Felton might help.

    He notes, “Here, I compare the sizes of Britain’s military in 1991, when it was specifically trained and deployed to resist a Soviet assault into Western Europe, and 2023. The figures are fairly shocking, something the US government recently noted as well.”.

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