General Sir Patrick Sanders
Coronation of Charles III and Camilla - Before King's Procession - (L to R) Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Antony Radakin, Chief of the General Staff General Sir Patrick Sanders, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sir Benjamin Key. Image/Katie Chan, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

The head of the British army, General Sir Patrick Sanders, has warned that the country must train a "citizen army," adding that UK citizens must stay prepared for a war.

General Sanders, chief of the general staff, made the comments at the International Armoured Vehicles Conference on Wednesday. He said that Russia's war in Ukraine is a sign of things to come and warned that we must not forget the lessons from previous wars.

"Our predecessors failed to perceive the implications of the so-called July Crisis in 1914 and stumbled into the most ghastly of wars," he said. "We cannot afford to make the same mistake today. Ukraine really matters".

Emphasising that increasing the number of soldiers in reserve forces alone "would not be enough," the General said: "Within the next three years, it must be credible to talk of a British Army of 120,000, folding in our reserve and strategic reserve".

He added: "We need an Army designed to expand rapidly to enable the first echelon, resource the second echelon and train and equip the citizen army that must follow".

This is not the first time the outgoing Chief of the General Staff (CGS) has warned of a possible war. General Sir Roly Walker will be replacing him as the CGS in June this year.

On Wednesday, he said that Russia's war in Ukraine was about much more than seizing territory. The war is about defeating our system and way of life in all aspects. He also called for a near-doubling in the size of the British army.

"This war is not merely about the black soil of the Donbas, nor the re-establishment of a Russian empire, it's about defeating our system and way of life politically, psychologically, and symbolically. How we respond as the pre-war generation will reverberate through history. Ukrainian bravery is buying time, for now," the general warned.

Responding to General Sander's statements, the UK Prime Minister's spokesperson said that engaging in hypothetical wars was not helpful.

He also ruled out the possibility of a conscription model for the British Army. "The British military has a proud tradition of being a voluntary force. There are no plans to change that," he said.

The Russia-Ukraine war has claimed thousands of lives in the last two years. It does not seem to be coming to an end anytime soon. In fact, there has been an increase in the number of strikes in both Ukraine and Russia since December last year.