Letter to the Editor: National Service is no panacea!

DEAR News Of The Area,

THERE’S been a couple of letters recently suggesting that national service would be a suitable panacea for the problems of delinquent youth, and another by Bellingen’s Warren Tindall on the “perils of national service”, reminding us that whinging about the younger generation is timeless and generational.

The notion appears to appeal to folk of a certain age who lament the lack of respect, discipline and Australian values (whatever that means) amongst Australian youth – the “knock some sense into them” law and order types who would like disorderly young folk to be “out of sight and out of mind”, and effectively, someone else’s problem.

They naively believe that the induction of potentially underage and recalcitrant youths would somehow contribute to our defence manpower shortfalls and bolster our military preparedness.

On the contrary, the conscription of unwilling and probably unfit recruits, and the time, effort and money needed to render them of use in any military capacity, is the last thing a proficient defence force needs.

In countries culturally and politically unaccustomed to national service, conscription has historically been considered a burden on the forces.

In western countries with national service – most notably the Scandinavian and Baltics, and Israel – young people grow up with the expectation of service and the national duty that implies, and are culturally and temperamentally prepared for it by the time they come of age.

It is not a military trainer’s job or even skill set to “instil a sense of purpose”, teach “physical and mental coping skills” or “positive career paths” or “train responsible human beings”, whilst “reducing our prison population” – seems like something like Vladimir Putin would do.


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