E XPLOSIONS go off all around your neighbourhood; a hostile invasion force is rounding up civilians and putting them in concentration camps.
The few survivors of the under-manned New Zealand Defence Force can be heard firing at the end of the street, attempting to resist the overwhelming hostile forces. The Defence Force doesn't have the manpower to repel the invaders, leading to a military massacre.
This leaves you, an untrained civilian, to fend for yourself against professional soldiers, to protect your family and possessions.
There is a way we can prevent this nightmare scenario taking place.
Compulsory military service is a policy that existed in New Zealand from 1909-1932, 1940-1958 and 1962-1972.
This policy remains in 65 other nations, where it is retained to provide military preparedness, national unity, a competitive workforce and personal discipline and health.
The New Zealand government should reintroduce compulsory service of at least 12 months for males and females aged between 15 and 18.
``A young man who does not have what it takes to perform military service is not likely to have what it takes to make a living,'' said US president John F. Kennedy.
Compulsory service was introduced to create a large, trained military so governments could respond to international threats and national emergencies such as natural disasters or civil unrest.
A small professional army is capable of doing this, but will lack the manpower and fresh recruits for the frontlines in unpopular wars.
If the New Zealand government enforced compulsory service, it would provide a rotation of troops going through the New Zealand Defence Force and take pressure off professional, volunteer soldiers.
If compulsory service came into force next year, 50,000 New Zealanders would receive military training every year; by 2020, 400,000 citizens would have undergone training and still be of serving age.
Those 400,000 New Zealanders, civilian and military, would be qualified to assist in response to a natural disaster.
This pool of about half a million New Zealanders would be trained and fit for service.
The Ministry of Defence would have a good, reliable pool of recruits going through the military each year who would be fit for service over the next 10 years. In times of crisis, the Ministry of Defence would not have to initiate a massive recruitment campaign and send ill-trained soldiers to the frontlines.
There are other benefits of compulsory service. New Zealand's diverse population means there are divides between different races, cultures and economic classes. Over the past century, national defence has fallen upon the lower and lower-middle classes and minorities.
But it is only fair that this responsibility be shared by all citizens _ rich or poor, European or Maori, Christian or Muslim. Conscription increases national unity; the responsibility for defending New Zealand should be the responsibility of all New Zealanders.
The military also teaches a range of skills that can be used in life. Service men and women can learn trades and survival skills; leadership and teamwork; the responsibility of having other people's lives in their hands; and co-operation to achieve a common objective.
These skills would create a more competitive workforce. There would be a large pool of disciplined, highly skilled workers.
On top of that, we would have a workforce that knew how to work together and how to lead and manage subordinates.
A bonus of this would be a reduction in youth unemployment. If the annual 10,000 school drop outs were conscripted into the military they would learn skills useful to earning themselves a living.
When citizens turn 18, they would first undertake military service before being able to continue their education. This might seem a bit extreme, but the discipline might stop university students from setting couches alight in the middle of the street.
Discipline is a key feature of the military, a quality that would be valuable among our youth today.
A similar situation could occur in New Zealand to the recent London riots, with 80 per cent of our population urbanised. Disciplining the youth of our nation would help avert this.
With so many benefits from compulsory service _ decreased youth crime and unemployment, a more qualified, fitter and healthier workforce, a population with skills that would benefit them outside the military _ it is essential for national growth to reintroduce this policy.
Although considered a ``primitive'' policy, most nations in the Western world used to have compulsory service, only discontinuing it when they were large enough to sustain their own military or became members of military alliances such as Nato.
With neither to fall back on, New Zealand should again adopt compulsory service.
Joshua Ahern, Year 11,
Pompallier Catholic College