Sir Michael Caine has called for National Service to be reintroduced, reports the BBC.
Caine, 76, said that it would give people a “sense of belonging rather than a sense of violence”. The actor served in the Korean War during his National Service, and later went on to play famous military roles in Zulu (Lietenant Gonville Bromhead) and Bridge too far (Lieutenant-Colonel Joe Vandeleur).
Caine said he was “very anti-war”, but also “I’m just saying put them in the army for six months. There should be a great plan to re-educate these youngsters. It’s such a waste – they all feel society has let them down.”
The actor was speaking in London at the European premiere of Harry Brown.
He certainly has a point.
I do not feel, however, the wholsesale drafting of thousands of young people into the armed forces would be a good idea. Our armed forces now are small, professional and focussed. Diluting the ranks with conscripts would not make for an efficient defence policy. It would not be fair on servicemen who volunteer to join up for the long-haul to lumber them with scores of national servicemen. Compare how our small, numerically inferior forces fared against the conscript army of Argentina in the Falklands.
Also, society has changed. Whereas a generation ago people were inclined to obey orders and serve the greater good, nowadays people are able to think for themselves, and quick to protest and complain.
But perhaps some form of national service could be devised whereby young people serve as part of charities, or on local or national projects to improve communities.
There are many aspects of military service that would be of great benefit to a lot of disenchanted young people. Respect, honour, heritage, teamwork, selflessness, hard work… there are also many trades and skills to be learnt.