Britain: do you want an army to fight your wars, or an army as an employment scheme?
It's a nice beguiling fantasy: seargent with twirling moustache against a lot of 'orrible 'olligans, and the NCO turns these truants into men.
But the problem is that the British Armed forces currently (a) have minimum standards for conscripts in education and fitness, which would have to be relaxed to admit the rioters, and (b) is all volunteer. It's not WWII, where there's a common enemy to fight, and where you need every warm bodied male. There will be some who will try it out, because they've got nothing else to do - and there will be others who want to be back with their mates on the street, and just don't have the self-discipline or the smarts for the job.
And when there's the possibility of serving in Afghanistan... my god. I don't know if it would end up that way, but I'm thinking of how the US armed forces - which at the time had a lot of conscripts - decayed in Vietnam.
"In short, for all the tales of soldiers assaulting gung-ho officers they feared would get them killed, a more likely explanation is that fragging was the work of rear-echelon misfits with anger management and substance issues who sulked after getting chewed out and decided to have their revenge. The nature of the war as such likely contributed only indirectly — its unpopularity discouraged enlistment and compelled the military to accept more trouble-prone recruits. The prevalence of drugs couldn’t have helped either — one study of soldiers returning from Vietnam found one-fifth had been addicted to narcotics."
And who would be the most likely to frag officers in the new conscript-ready British Army? Yes, there at the back? Exactly. The people who had been rioting before being conscripted! And Afghanistan is not known for being short of drugs.
So let's leave our poor seargant alone. He's tough but fair. He doesn't deserve tripping over a line in the barracks and detonating an IED because some smacked-out miscreant wants to be back in Brixton.
Instead, let's try other ideas, like.... cutting austerity measures, tax the rich, and they try to use to get more jobs in the UK. Our would-be miscreant would probably be happier gainfully employed, and having to go to bed early for work next day is a deterrent to rioting. Let's give him a chance, shall we?
Having said that, if National Service is the go, then the conscripts will probably have to work on their physical fitness. Playstations (a favorite target for theft) don't exactly help you at hand-to-hand fighting. So Cameron and Clegg as personal punching bags for the recruits? Suits me, sir.