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Military


World Wide Conscription

The LORD spoke to Moses (...) He said: "Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one.You and Aaron are to number by their divisions all the men in Israel twenty years old or more who are able to serve in the army.
(Numbers, 1.1-3)



Military manpower can be resourced by means of volunteerism (militias), market incentives (mercenaries or professional soldiers), or military conscription (citizen soldiers or mass national armies). The institution of conscription forms one of the foundational policy bargains of any polity. The obligation to commit private resources (time, and potentially life) to the common good of national security is generally predicated on a social contract of state-society relations, like paying taxes in exchange for centrally-provided public goods. Of course, both the collection of tax revenues and the mobilization of human military resources imply that the state has the Hobbesian coercive power and authority to do so; state capacity, if not democratic consent, is the predicate for the public extraction of private resources. The increased level of centralization and wider reach of the modern nation-state enables mobilizing even heftier resources from its citizens or subjects both during times of war and peace.

Historically, conscription is quite novel. While rulers at all times pressed their subjects into military service when they wished, such draft schemes (militias) were occasional, selective and non-systematic. Mercenaries and commercialized warfare dominated European battlefields until the late 18th century. The birth of general conscription is usually dated to 1793, when the French National Convention decreed a leve en masse. But in 1800 the generality of the French conscription was abandoned, and citizens were abe to buy exemption. During the wars of liberation against Napoleonic Francen, in 1814 Prussia under King Friedrich Wilhelm III installed a universal scheme of conscription without exceptions, save those found unfit for military service. The military successes of the Prussian and Napoleonic conscript armies inspired many countries to adopt universal conscription, and the industrial high-intensity mass wars of the 19th and 20th centuries were made possible by compulsory military service by millions of young men.

Conscription makes society more interested in activities of national armed forces and places civil control upon military capabilities. For example, armed forces of the USA were based on the conscription principle during the Vietnam War. American society displayed great interest in the war. Consequently, actions were terminated when the society began mass protests as a sign of disapproval of their government's goals in the war and refused to put up with human losses. Whereas during Iraq war American armed forces were made of professional war service soldiers which expanded the gap between the society and the armed forces and diminished the former's interest in the war.

With the end of the Cold War, conscription is in retreat in democratic countries. Many countries have abolished the military draft in favor of a professional army. Only a handful of NATO members still run their armies with conscripts. The transition to full military professionalization has been made once extenuating circumstances of heightened security threat ceased. The long-term trend towards professionalizaton and military downsizing caught up with countries such as France, Italy, and Spain after the end of the Cold War.

For all their diversity in regime types and security considerations more than half of the world's states employ military conscription in one form or the other. The draft still intrudes into the lives of young men in most of the Soviet successor states, in many Asian countries (including China, though notably not India), and across Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. Unlike the rest of the world, Eritrea, Israel, Libya, Malaysia, North Korea, Taiwan, and Tunisia currently also draw women into compulsory military service or its equivalents. Compulsory military service for women also exists in China, but has never been enforced.

Initial military service in NATO and some other countries (months)

Army

Navy

Air Force

Austria 1)>

7

7

Belgium

Voluntary

Bulgaria

Voluntary,
12-month conscription ended 01 Jan 2008

Canada

Voluntary

China 2)>

48

48

48

Czech Republic

Voluntary,
12-month conscription ended in 2004

Denmark 3)>

4-12

4-12

4-12

Finland

6-12

6-12

6-12

France

Voluntary,
10-month conscription ended in 2002

Germany

6 [9 prior to
Jun 2009]

6 [9 prior to
Jun 2009]

6 [9 prior to
Jun 2009]

Greece

up to 18

up to 21

up to 21

Hungary

Voluntary since 2004 in peacetime
had been 9 months previously

Israel

36 men
24 women

36 men
24 women

36 men
24 women

Italy

Voluntary,
10-month conscription ended in 2005

Iceland

Has no military forces

India

Voluntary

Luxembourg

Voluntary

Netherlands

Voluntary

Norway 4)>

6-12

6-12

12

Poland

9
[12 prior to 2005]

9
[12 prior to 2005]

9
[12 prior to 2005]

Portugal

Voluntary
conscription ended in 2004
had been 4-8 months for Army, 4-12 months for Navy & AF

Rumania

Voluntary
conscription ended in 2007
had been 12 months for Army & AF, 18 months for Navy

Russia

18-24

18-24

18-24

Slovakia

Voluntary
conscription ended in 2005
had been 12 months

Spain

Voluntary
conscription ended in 2001
had been 9 months

Sweden

Voluntary
conscription suspended 01 July 2010
had been 7-15 months for Army & Navy 8-12 months for AF

Switzerland 1)>

15 weeks compulsory recruit school

has no Navy

?

Turkey

18

18

18

UK

Voluntary

USA

Voluntary

1)>In these countries the short period of national service is followed by compulsory refresher training at frequent intervals.
2)>Selective conscription.
3)>Up to 24 months service in certain ranks.
4)>Service in the Coastal Artillery is 12 and 6 months. Those assigned to military service in the Home Guard may get 6 months initial service in the Army. Chaplains, doctors, psychologists and dentists have 12 months of service.
Many countries have refresher training in addition to the national service, particularly in the Army. Moreover, in some countries the period of service is differentiated, so that certain specialists have a longer period of national service than other conscripts. In several countries, including Sweden and Denmark, persons most suitable are chosen to be officers, and thus do a much longer period of service than others.





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