“Not if I can help it”, say the young people of today. Or, as the headline in a story in today’s Sunday Telegraph has it: “Not if I can’t log in to Facebook, say youngsters”. But really, that’s a ridiculous way of putting it!
“The social media generation’s refusal to be cut off from the internet may lead to a shortage of Royal Navy submariners willing to undertake long voyages, military experts warn.” Further, a little nearer the mark — this time from PA Consulting — “Recruitment to the Armed Forces is being affected by a shift in the amount of isolation and hardship young people are willing to put up with”. A little nearer still, says Nick Chaffey of PA Consulting –“I think society has moved further than maybe we recognized over the last few decades.”
You bet. The plain fact is that all the advanced countries have difficulty in recruiting enough young people into their armed services. In this country, recruitment into the Army has already dipped below its much reduced target of 82,000, three years before expected. In the Navy 1,740 sailors quit early in the past twelve months. The RAF can’t find enough skilled engineers and technical experts.
Today’s youngsters would fight and give up their lives in defence of the country if they ever had to. They always have done and always will. It’s deeply instinctive. The difference today is that our country will never be invaded, nor will any other advanced country — not by armed invaders anyway. That type of warfare has gone now. The youngsters know that. The politicians are pretending that they don’t. The modern nation-state was born out of artillery warfare 300 years ago. It came to its zenith when the nuclear bombs were dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The nation-state has gone past its peak now. The youngsters know it. It’s why they hardly bother to vote these days also. The armed forces seem to have no problem in recruiting officers from the C-streams of the minor private schools. But as for the cannon fodder — it’s not needed any more and the youngsters know it.