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Conscript redirects here, but may also refer to artificial script.

Conscription is a general term for involuntary labor demanded by some established authority, but it is most often used in the specific sense of government policies that require (very often, male only) citizens to serve in their armed forces. It is known by various names—for example, the most recent conscription program in the United States was known colloquially as "the draft". Many nations do not maintain conscription forces, instead relying on a volunteer or professional military most of the time, although many of these countries still reserve the possibility of conscription for wartime and "crises" of supply.

"Conscription" has also sometimes been used as a general term for non-military involuntary labour demanded by some established authority; for example, some translators of Old Testament commentaries use the term to describe the levies of labour used to build the Temple. In Japan during World War II, Japanese women and children were conscripted to work in factories.

Referring to forced service in the armed forces, the term "conscription" has two main meanings:

  • forced service, usually of young men of a given age, e.g. 17–18, for a set period of time, commonly 1–2 years. (In the United Kingdom and Singapore this was commonly known as "national service"; in New Zealand, Compulsory Military Training); in Norway, Safeguard Duty / 1st time service.
  • forced service, for an indefinite period of time, in the context of a widespread mobilisation of forces for fighting war, including on the home territory, usually imposed on men in a much wider age group (e.g. 18–45). (In the United Kingdom this was commonly known as "call-up").

The term "conscription" refers only to the mandatory service; thus, those undergoing conscription are known as "conscripts" or "selectee" in the United States (from the Selective Service System or the Selective Service Initiative announced in 2004).

In the U.S. the term "enlisted" is often used to refer only to those who have volunteered for service in roles other than as commissioned officers.


[edit] History

[edit] The invention of modern conscription during the French Revolution

Modern conscription was invented during the French Revolution, allowing the Republic to defend itself from European monarchies' attacks. Deputy Jean-Baptiste Jourdan gave its name to the September 5, 1798 Act, whose first article stated: "Any Frenchman is a soldier and owes himself to the defense of the nation." It enabled the creation of the Grande Armée, what Napoleon Bonaparte called "the nation in arms", which successfully battled European professional armies.

According to philosopher Michel Foucault, conscription is one of the forms taken by "disciplinary institutions", along with hospitals, schools and prisons. Louis Althusser has also underlined how Machiavelli was one of the first modern theorists to think the relationship between conscription and the creation of a nation, or successfully bolstering patriotism. Machiavelli despised the use of mercenaries and professional armies, which at this time were ravaging the divided Italian states.

[edit] Disputes over conscription (World War I, Vietnam War, etc.)

Conscription, particularly when the conscripts are being sent to foreign wars that do not directly affect the security of the nation, has historically been highly politically contentious in democracies. For instance, during World War I, bitter political disputes broke out in Canada (see Conscription Crisis of 1917), Newfoundland, Australia and New Zealand (See Compulsory Military Training) over conscription. Canada also had a political dispute over conscription during World War II (see Conscription Crisis of 1944). Similarly, mass protests against conscription to fight the Vietnam War occurred in several countries in the late 1960s. (See also: Conscription Crisis)

In developed nations, the increasing emphasis on technological firepower and better-trained fighting forces, the sheer unlikelihood of a conventional military assault on most developed nations, as well as memories of the contentiousness of the Vietnam War experience, make mass conscription unlikely in the foreseeable future.

Russia, as well as many smaller nations, retain mainly conscript armies.

[edit] The gender issue

Some countries which draft women include the People's Republic of China, Republic of China ("Taiwan"), North Korea, Peru, Malaysia, Libya, Israel, and Eritrea. In 2002, Sweden's government asked the army to consider mandatory military service for women. Some have considered the practice of excluding women from the draft unfair, because they feel it goes against principles of equality. Some simply argue that women can be militarily useful, and that excluding them places an unnecessary limit on resources. During World War II, women were drafted into the armed forces of the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. The United States came close to drafting women into the Nurse Corps in preparation for a planned invasion of Japan; the Japanese surrender made this unnecessary.

The non-egalitarian policy practiced by some countries of drafting men and not women has often been a flash point and source of conflict. This policy is often cited by some masculists as an example of an unfair policy which benefits women over men. Apprehension about the possible conscription of women was a key factor that led to the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment in the United States.

Conscription certainly imposes on the freedom of the individual and although some conscripts feel that they benefited from the experience others feel that their time could have been spent more productively pursuing their chosen studies or career paths See BBC news article on the end of French conscription Individual resentment may also be compounded by the typically low wages paid to conscripts, especially in countries such as Greece and Singapore. Feminists and others calling for more equal treatment of women in society have rarely extended their demands to include a call for equality for women with regards the draft.

The topic of male-only conscription in the UK was the focus of a large number of books, plays and other literature, most of which portrayed the writers' experience of conscription in a very negative way, emphasizing the brutality and tedium of military training. Examples include Arnold Wesker's Chips with Everything and Ginger You're barmy by David Lodge. In his book, Lodge suggests that the practice of male-only conscription helped to generate sexist attitudes by making it difficult for men to regard those who were excused the rigors of military training as their equals.

[edit] Conscientious objection

Template:Main articles A conscientious objector is an individual whose personal beliefs are incompatible with military service, or sometimes with any role in the armed forces. In some countries, conscientious objectors have special legal status which augments their conscription duties. For example, Sweden allows conscientious objectors to choose a service in the "weapons-free" branch, such as an airport fireman, nurse or telecommunications technician. Some may also refuse such service as they feel that they still are a part of the military complex. The reasons for refusing to serve are varied. Many conscientious objectors are so for religious reasons—notably, the members of the historic peace churches are pacifist by doctrine, and Jehovah's Witnesses, while not strictly speaking pacifists, refuse to participate in the armed services on the grounds that they believe Christians should be neutral in worldly conflicts.

[edit] Draft evaders

Not everyone who was conscripted was willing to go to war. Many young people used their family's political connections to ensure that they were placed well away from any potential harm. They would avoid military service altogether through college deferments. Others with political influence often joined the military and served in what was termed a Champagne unit. Others used educational exemptions, became conscientious objectors or pretended to be conscientious objectors. For others, the most common method of avoiding the draft was to cross the border into another country. People who have been "called up" for military service and who attempted to avoid it in some way were known as "draft-dodgers". Particularly during the Vietnam War, U.S. draft-dodgers usually made their way to Canada, Mexico or Sweden.

Many people looked upon draft-dodgers with scorn as being "cowards", but some supported them in their efforts. In the late years of the war, objections against it and support for draft-dodgers was much more outspoken, because of the casualties suffered by American troops, and the actual cause and purpose of the war being heavily questioned.

[edit] Draft resisters


Historically, there has been resistance to conscription in almost every country and situation where it has been imposed. In the USA and some other countries, the Vietnam War saw new levels of opposition to conscription and the Selective Service System. Many people opposed to and facing conscription chose to either apply for classification and assignment to civilian alternative service or noncombatant service within the military as conscientious objectors, or to evade the draft by fleeing to a neutral country. A small proportion, like Muhammad Ali, chose to resist the draft by publicly and politically fighting conscription. Some people resist at the point of registration for the draft [1] . In the USA since 1980, for example, the draft resistance movement has focused on mandatory draft registration. [2] [3] Others resist at the point of induction, when they are ordered to put on a uniform, when they are ordered to carry or use a weapon, when they are ordered into combat, or when they are ordered to commit what they believe to be war crimes or atrocities.

[edit] Deserters

Some conscripts who were registered for military service, nevertheless failed to arrive at induction and were listed as Absent Without Leave (AWOL). Others, simply deserted whilst in uniform, or handed their weapons over to the enemy. During the Angolan War, the African National Congress (ANC) called for South African soldiers to desert.

[edit] Countries with mandatory military service (partial list)

File:Conscription Map.png
  • Green: No armed services</li>
  • Blue: No active conscription</li>
  • Orange: Plan for conscription to be abolished within three years</li>
  • Red: Conscription</li>
  • Gray: No information</li>
  • A number of countries have mandatory military service:

    [edit] Austria

    Austria has mandatory military service for fit male citizens from 18 to 35 years of age. Service lasts for eight months but will be shortened to six months in 2006. Conscientious objectors join the civilian service (called Zivildienst) for twelve months (reduction to nine months in 2006).

    Since January 1, 1998, females can join the military service voluntarily.

    [edit] Belarus

    Belarus has mandatory military service for all fit men from eighteen to twenty-seven years of age. Military service lasts for eighteen months for those without higher education, and for twelve months for those with higher education.

    [edit] Bermuda

    Bermuda, although an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, still maintains conscription for its local force. Males between the age of eighteen and thirty two are drawn by lottery to serve in The Bermuda Regiment for a period of thirty eight months. The commitment is only on a part time basis, however. Anyone who objects to this has the right to have their case heard by an exemption tribunal.

    [edit] Brazil

    Males in Brazil are required to serve 12 months (24 months in the air force, 36 in the navy) of military service upon their 18th birthday. Most often, the service is performed in military bases as close as possible to the person's home. The government does not require those planning to attend college or holding a permanent job to serve. There are also several other exceptions, including health reasons, for which one may not have to serve. Those who were going to make the military academies entrance tests are often discharged with a "Fit for Military Service" certificate.

    [edit] Bulgaria

    Bulgaria has mandatory military service for male citizens from eighteen to twenty-seven years of age. Currently (2004) the duration of the service depends on the degree of education. For citizens studying for or holding a bachelor degree or higher the service is six months, and for citizens with no higher education it is nine months.<ref>"Bulgarian military service reduced", BBC News, May 17, 2000. Retrieved 31 May 2006.</ref> During the last ten years the duration of service has rapidly dropped (from two years in 1994) and as Bulgaria adopts a professional army mandatory service is expected to be replaced with voluntary service.

    [edit] Chile

    Chile has mandatory military service for all citizens between eighteen and forty-five. The duration of service is twelve months for the army and twenty-four months for Navy and Air Force.

    [edit] China (PRC)

    Conscription has existed in theory since the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, however due to China's large population and the large number of individuals who volunteer to join the armed forces, draft has never occured.

    Conscription is enshrined in article 55 of the constitution, which states: "It is a sacred duty of every citizen of the People's Republic of China to defend his or her motherland and resist invasion. It is an honoured obligation of the citizens of the People's Republic of China to perform military service and to join the militia forces." [2]

    The present legal basis of conscription is the 1984 Military Service Law, which describes military service as a duty for "all citizens without distinction of race (...) and religious creed." This law has not been amended since it came into effect. [1] [4]

    Military service is normally performed in the regular armed forces, but the 1984 law does allow for conscription into the reserve forces.

    [edit] Croatia

    Croatian law prescribes military service for male citizens from eighteen to twenty-seven years old. The duration of the normal military service is six months (as of 2004), while conscientious objectors can apply for civil service which lasts for eight months. Conscription is regularly postponed for students until the end of their studies, as long as they apply before they turn twenty-eight years of age.

    Over the last decade or so, the duration of military service has been halved and civil service was introduced together with the streamlining of the professional army. Should this trend continue, the mandatory service may eventually be completely replaced with voluntary service.

    [edit] Cyprus

    Template:Main Cyprus has compulsory military service for all Greek Cypriot men between the ages of eighteen and fifty. Military service lasts for twenty-five months. After that, ex-soldiers are considered reservists and participate in military exercises for a few days every year. Conscientious objectors can either do thirty three months unarmed service in the army or thirty eight months community work. See official pages by the Greek Cypriot National Guard.

    In North Cyprus there is compulsory military service for Turkish Cypriots. The Annan Plan for Cyprus that was rejected in the 2004 reunification referendum mandated the demilitarisation of the island and the disbanding of both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot forces.

    [edit] Denmark

    As described in the Constitution of Denmark, § 81, Denmark has mandatory service for all able men. Normal service is four months, and is normally served by men in the age of eighteen to twenty-seven. Some special services will take longer. Danish men will typically receive a letter around the time of their 18th birthday, asking when their current education (if any) ends, and some time later, depending on when, they will receive a notice on when to attend to the draft office to be tested physically and psychologically. However some may be deemed unfit for service and not be required to show up.

    Even if a person is deemed fit, or partially fit for service, he may avoid having to serve if he draws a high enough number randomly. Persons who are deemed partly fit for service will however be placed lower than those who are deemed fit for service, and therefore have a very low chance of being drafted. Men deemed fit can be called upon for service until their 50th birthday in case of national crisis, regardless of whether normal conscription has been served. This right is very rarely exercised by Danish authorities.

    Conscientious objectors can choose to instead serve six months in a non-military position, for example in Redningsberedskabet (dealing with non-military disasters like fires, flood, pollution, etc.) or foreign aid work in a third world country. [4].

    [edit] Egypt

    Egypt has a mandatory military service program for males between the ages of eighteen and thirty. Females of comparable age serve in a civilian program. Conscription is regularly postponed for students until the end of their studies, as long as they apply before they turn twenty-eight years of age. By the age of thirty a male is considered unfit to join the army and pays a fine. Males with no brothers, or those supporting parents are exempted from the service. Males serve for a period ranging from fourteen months to forty-eight months depending on their education; high school dropouts serve for forty-eight months during which they finish their high-school education. College graduates serve for lesser periods of time, depending on their education, and college graduates with special skills are still conscripted yet at a different rank and with a different pay scale with the option of remaining with the service as a career. Some Egyptians evade conscription and travel overseas until they reach the age of thirty, at which point they are tried, pay a $580 fine (as of 2004), and are dishonorably relieved of their obligation to serve in the army. Such an offense, legally considered an offense of "bad moral character", prevents the "unpatriotic" citizen from ever holding public office.

    [edit] Eritrea

    Eritrea has a mandatory military service program for both men and women aged eighteen through forty. The term of service is eighteen months. There is no alternate service. The Eritrean government is well-known for hunting down and torturing suspected draft evaders. Draft evaders often flee the country to nearby countries.

    [edit] Finland

    As of 2006, Finland has mandatory military service for men of at least six months (180 days), depending on the assigned position: those trained as officers or NCOs serve for twelve months (362 days), specialist troops serve for nine (270 days) or twelve months, and other rank and file serve for six months. Unarmed service is also possible, and lasts eleven months (330 days). Since 1995, women have been given the option of voluntary military service. During the first fifty six days, women have an option to quit the service without having to provide a reason. After serving for fifty six days, they fall under the same obligation to serve as men.

    Non-military service of thirteen months (395 days) is available for men whose conscience prevents them from serving in the military. Men who refuse to serve at all are sent to prison for 6.5 months (197 days) or half the time of their remaining non-military service at time of refusal. In theory, male citizens from the demilitarized Åland region have to serve in customs offices or lighthouses, but since this service has not been arranged, they are always exempted. Jehovah's Witnesses' service is postponed every two years until they, at the age of twenty-eight, are exempted.

    Military service has been mandatory for men throughout the history of independent Finland since 1917. Soldiers and civil servicemen receive a daily salary of 3.60 (days 1–180), 5.75 € (days 181–270) and 8.25 € (onward from day 271).

    After the training part of the service is done, the soldier enters the reserve. The reservists can be called to mandatory refresher exercises. Rank and file serves forty days maximum, specialists seventy five days and officers and NCOs one hundred days. For this, a salary of about fifty euro per day is paid. The service is mandatory; it is not possible to refuse an order to attend the refresher exercise.

    The length of non-military service has been criticized as being punitive by Amnesty International because it is over twice as long as the most common alternative, six-month military service. Several motions to shorten it have been made in the Finnish Parliament but none have passed.

    [edit] Germany


    Germany has mandatory military service of nine months for men. Women may volunteer and are allowed to perform almost the same jobs as men. A conscientious objector may petition for permission to do civilian alternative service, "civilian service" (Zivildienst) instead for nine months, which is usually accepted. A third option is to become a foreign development aide (Entwicklungshelfer) for at least eighteen months. Overall, however, during the past few years, the number of men being drafted has declined significantly.

    Besides several exceptions, military service is compulsory for all men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three years. Those who are engaged in educational or vocational training programs prior to their military assessment are allowed to postpone service until they have completed the programs and can be called upon to perform their national duty at any time thereafter.

    [edit] Greece


    As of 2004, Greece (Hellenic Republic) has mandatory military service of twelve months for men. However, it is developing a professional army system, and it is widely expected that the mandatory military service will be cut to six months by 2008 or even abolished completely. Although women are accepted into the Greek army, they are not obliged to join as men are. Soldiers receive no health insurance, but they can receive medical support during their army service, including hospitalization costs. They receive a symbolic salary of approximately nine euro per month for privates, twelve euro for the rank of draft corporal and draft sergeant, and 600 euro as a draft cadet. The wages are not sufficient to sustain a draftee serving his tour away from his place of residence and most draftees depend on their parents to support them financially while they are on their tour.

    [edit] Iran

    Iran has mandatory military service for men. Duration of military service is dependent on some conditions and circumstances, but it is usually 21 months in normal conditions on top of the three months of initial training. Exceptions are those who cannot serve due to injury or disablity or some social conditions. More information can be found at Police Web Site (in Persian)

    [edit] Israel

    Israel has mandatory military service for both Jewish men and women. All Israeli Jews are conscripted, except Haredim, who can choose to serve but mostly do not. Israeli Arabs are exempt from service, although they can volunteer and some communities such as the Druze, Bedouin, and Circassians do serve.

    Young women can generally opt not to serve if they are married, pregnant, or otherwise — Israel is generally very lenient with Israeli women when it comes to the draft. However, most that can, do serve out of patriotism.

    Typically, men serve for 36 months, women serve for 24 months. See also: Israel Defence Forces.

    There are limited number of refuseniks who resist military service in general, or who refuse to serve in the West Bank. Some of them serve short prison terms as a result (no more than a few months). See also: Refusal to serve in the Israeli military.

    In addition, men are liable for up to a month a year of reserve duty (miluim) until they are fifty years old. Women are liable for it until they are twenty-four years old, married, or pregnant.

    [edit] Korea, South

    South Korea has mandatory military service of twenty-six months.<ref>"Lee, Roh Pledge Political Reform", Korea Now, December 12, 2002. Retrieved 31 May 2006.</ref> There are no alternatives for conscientious objectors.<ref>"Korean pacifists fight conscription", BBC News, May 5, 2002. Retrieved 31 May 2006.</ref>

    There are many reported instances of citizens of other countries (United States, Canada, etc.) being forced to serve in the South Korean military. Under South Korean law, one is considered a citizen if one's name is entered into the Korean Family Census Register, or hojuk. If a male between the ages of 18 and 35 travels to Korea, he is in the hojuk, and his presence there is discovered by the Korean government, there is a strong possibility that he will be held there to fulfill his military duty. For more information, see the following and scroll down to the section titled "Special Circumstances: Dual Nationality": [5].

    [edit] Lebanon

    Lebanon previously had mandatory military service of one year for men. On 4 May 2005, a new conscription system was adopted, making for a six-month service, and pledging to end conscription within two years. See Official Information from Lebanese Army.

    [edit] Malaysia

    Template:Main As of 2004, Malaysia has mandatory national service of three months for a selected group of both men and women. Twenty percent of 18-year-olds are selected through a lottery system to join this program. Trainees are not trained to use firearms. The first training date was February 16, 2004. See Official Information from Malaysia National Service Training Department.

    [edit] Mexico

    Currently, all males reaching eighteen years of age must register for military service (Servicio Militar Nacional, or SMN) of one year, though selection is made by a lottery system using the following color scheme: whoever draws a black ball must serve as a "disponibility reservist", that is, they must not follow any activities whatsoever and get their discharge card at the end of the year. The ones who get a white ball serve in a Batallón del Servicio Militar Nacional (National Military Service Battalion) composed entirely of one-year SMN conscripts. Those with a community service interest may participate in Literacy Campaigns as teachers, or as Phys-Ed instructors. Military service is also (voluntarily) open to women. In certain cities, such as Mexico City and Veracruz, there is a third option: a red ball (Mexico City) and a Blue ball (Veracruz), which entails serving a full year as a recruit in a Paratrooper Battalion in the case of Mexico City residents, or an Infantería de Marina unit (Navy Marines) in Veracruz. In other cities which have a Navy HQ (such as Ciudad Madero), it is the Navy which takes charge of the conscripts, instead of the Army.

    Draft dodging was an uncommon occurrence in Mexico until 2002, since a "liberated" military id-card was needed for a Mexican male to obtain a passport, but since this requirement was dropped, absenteeism from military service has become much more common.

    [edit] Norway

    Norway has mandatory military service of eighteen months for men between the ages of eighteen (17 with parental consent) and forty-four (fifty-five in case of war). From 2006 the armed forces will invite females to the medical examination too, but they will not be drafted unless they sign a declaration of willingness. The actual draft time is six months for the home guard, and 9–12 months for the regular army, air force and navy. The remaining months are supposed to be served in annual exercises, but very few conscripts do this due to lack of funding to the Norwegian armed forces. The decreased funding and greater reliance on high technology in the armed forces has resulted in that the armed forces is aiming towards drafting only 10,000 conscripts a year. The remaining are mostly formally dismissed after medical tests or obtain deferral from the service due to studies or stays abroad. Some, who choose the vocational course paths during high school (such as carpenters, electricians and so on) opt to complete their required apprenticeships within the military. While some Norwegians consider it unfair that they are the "unlucky" that have to complete the compulsory military duty when so many others are dismissed, others see it as a privilege and there is sometimes high competition to be allowed to join the service. This on grounds that spending a year in the military will grant them many benefits after service completion and a steady pay during it, which helps many avoid student loans. Having completed the draft time is generally regarded favourably with employers. The Norwegian armed forces will normally not draft a person who has reached the age of twenty-eight. In Norway certain voluntary specialist training programs and courses entail extended conscription of one to eight years. Pacifists can apply for non-military service, lasting thirteen months.

    [edit] Poland

    Poland has a compulsory service term of nine months for all mature men. However, many of those are considered unfit for mandatory military service during peacetime. Effectively, many tens of thousands of men are drafted each autumn. Alternative service can be requested, e.g. in the police force. This is only valid if you are not attending an educational facility. Some students can volunteer for military preparations, so they serve in military 6 weeks during their summer break after the finish fourth semester. After joining the European Union, many young men move abroad in order to avoid draft and quite low conditions in the Polish Army. Also many, facing very high unemployment in the country, join forces voluntarily to serve the term and later gain opportunity to get a well paid jobs in military or police.

    [edit] Romania

    Romania still has conscription. In 2003 an amendment to the Constitution allowed the Parliament to make the military service optional and the conscription will end in January 2007. Men serve for twelve months (6 months if they have graduated a form of higher education). As of 2004, conscripts no longer serve in the Romanian Navy.

    The Romanian parliament voted in October 2005 to end the draft after the October 2006 "class" of draftees reports for duty. Beginning in January 2007, twenty-year-old Romanian men will have to register with the government but the men will only be liable to call up in the case of war. The parliamentary vote formalized one of many military modernization and reform programs Romania agreed to when it joined NATO. By 2012, the requirement for registration will lower to seventeen years of age.

    [edit] Russia

    The conscription system was introduced into Imperial Russia by Dmitry Milyutin in the 1870s. As of 2002, Russian Federation has a mandatory two-year draft but most Russians try to avoid it. The most widely used ways to avoid the military service are:

    • Studying in a university or similar place. All students are free from conscription, but they can be drafted after they graduate (or if they drop out). Graduated students serve one year as privates, but if they have a military education, they have the option to serve two years as officers. Persons who continue postgraduate education, or have a doctoral degree (Candidate of Sciences) are not drafted.
    • Getting a medical certificate that shows that a person is unfit for service. Sometimes such certificates are false and are made for a bribe.
    • Bribing military or civilian officials responsible for draft.
    • Just not going to a draft station, draft-dodging. This can be a criminal offence, punishable by up to two years in prison.
    • Not widely used way is having more than two children, or one child younger than three years. (The last one probably will be dropped from the law in 2008).
    • There are other legal (described in the law) or illegal ways to evade draft.

    In Russia, a person can not be conscripted after he turns twenty-seven.

    In 2006, the Russian government announced its plans to gradually reduce the term of service to 18 months for those who will be conscripted in 2007 and to one year since 2008 and to drop some legal excuses for non-conscription from the law (such as non-conscription of rural doctors and teachers, of men who have a child younger than 3 years etc.).

    As a result of draft evasion, Russian generals have complained on numerous times that the bulk of the army is made up of drug-addicts, imbeciles, and ex-convicts, which in turn has lead to an overall decline of the morale and function of the Russian armed services. Conscripts often face brutal hazing and bullying upon their entrance into the military known as dedovschina, some dying as a result. Suicide among Russian conscripts is at an all time high.

    See Only eleven percent of Russian men enter mandatory military service.

    See also Dedovschina.

    See also Russian draftee’s legs and genitals amputated after hazing incident.

    [edit] Serbia and Montenegro

    Serbia and Montenegro have compulsory national service for all men aged between 19 and 35. In practice men over 27 are seldom called up. Service is usually performed after University studies have been completed. The length of service was 9 months but has recently been reduced to 6 months (2006). There is also an alternative for conscientious objectors which lasts 9 months. Serbia-Montenegro nationals living outside of the country are still expected to complete national service, however, they may defer it if it will seriously impact their career in the country where they currently reside. This can be done by contacting the embassy in the country of residence (if under 27), or muct be done by contacting the army directly (if over 27).

    [edit] Singapore

    Template:Main In Singapore, the NS (Amendment) Act was passed on 14 March 1967, under which all able-bodied male citizens of 18–21 years of age were required to serve a compulsory military service of two years (down from two and a half years, amended in 2005). Upon completion of full-time NS, they undergo reservist training cycles of up to forty days a year for the next ten years.

    Singapore, which currently has a mandatory service period of twenty-four months, used to have one of the longest mandatory military service periods for males, at thirty months. It also has special policies for ethnic Malays, because of possible conflicts in allegiances with neighbour Malaysia. Some of the Malays are drafted into the police or Civil Defense.

    [edit] Sweden

    In Sweden military service is mandatory for men only. As of 2002, Sweden's government asked the army to consider mandatory military service for women. Less than one third of the country's eligible 19-year-olds are actually drafted each year. See Sweden considers mandatory military service for women. Men may choose to do unarmed service, for instance as a firefighter. Generally, unarmed service is longer than armed.

    See also: 91:an, a Swedish comic strip based on conscript life in the Swedish Army.

    [edit] Switzerland

    Switzerland has the largest militia army in the world (220,000 including reserves). Military service for Swiss men is obligatory according to the Federal Constitution, and includes seventeen weeks of basic training as well as annual 3-week-refresher courses until a number of service days which increases with rank (260 days for privates) is reached. Service for women is voluntary, but identical in all respects. Conscientious objectors can choose 390 days of community service instead of military service. Medical deferments and dismissals from basic training (often on somewhat dubious grounds) have increased significantly in the last years. Therefore, only about 33% of Swiss men actually complete basic training.

    See also: Swiss Civilian Service

    [edit] Taiwan (ROC)

    Template:Main The Republic of China has had mandatory military service for all males since 1949. Females from the outlying islands of Fuchien were also required to serve in a civil defense role, although this requirement has been dropped since the lifting of martial law. In October 1999, the mandatory service was shortened from twenty-four months to twenty-two months. From January 2004, the mandatory service was shortened further. At this point, the duration of mandatory military service is eighteen months. Beginning 1 January 2006, the duration will decrease to sixteen months. The ROC Defense Ministry has announced that should voluntary enlistment reach sufficient numbers, the compulsory service period for draftees will be shortened to fourteen months in 2007, and further to twelve months in 2008, if trend persists.

    ROC nationals with Overseas Chinese status are exempt from service. Draftees may also request alternative service, usually in community service areas, although the required service period would be longer than military service. Qualified draftees with graduate degrees in the sciences or engineering who pass officer candidate exams may also apply to fulfill their obligations in a national defense service option which involves three months of military training, followed by an officer commission in the reserves and four years working in technical jobs in the defense industry or government research institutions.

    The Ministry of Interior is responsible for administering the National Conscription Agency. Ministry of Interior site on Consciption Administration

    [edit] Turkey


    In Turkey, compulsory military service applies to all male citizens from twenty to forty-one years of age (with some exceptions). Those who are engaged in higher education or vocational training programs prior to their military drafting are allowed to delay service until they have completed the programs. The duration of the basic military service varies. As of July 2003, the reduced durations are as follows: fifteen months for privates (previously eighteen months), twelve months for reserve officers (previously sixteen months) and six months for short-term privates, which denotes those who have earned a university degree and not have been enlisted as reserve officers (previously eight months).

    For Turkish citizens who have lived or worked abroad of Turkey for at least three years, on condition that they pay a certain fee in foreign currencies, a basic military training of one month is offered instead of the full-term military service. Also, when the General Staff assesses that the military reserve exceeds the required amount, paid military service of one-month's basic training is established by law as a stopgap measure, but has never been practised in reality.

    Although women have in principle no military service, they are allowed to become officers.

    Refusing the obligatory military service due to conscientious objection is illegal in Turkey, and punishable with imprisonment by law.

    [edit] Ukraine

    The options are either reserve officer training for two years (offered in universities as a part of a program which means not having to join the army), or one year regular service.

    [edit] Venezuela

    Military service is mandatory and may last for up to two years. All men between eighteen and thirty-five years of age are liable to be conscripted if not already registered as reserves or exempt from conscription by the local authority.

    Reasons for exemption include: being sole support for a family, studying college, being physically unfit. Some of these exemptions are based on subjective assessment by the local authorities and allegations of corruption and bribes periodically surface in the local media.

    In past decades the policy of conscription (la recluta) in Venezuela used to draw its manpower from the detention of males of military age, in a similar way to the press gangs of the pre-Industrial era. This is slowly evolving into a modern and voluntary conscription system.

    [edit] Countries that don't have, or abolished, mandatory military service

    See Military service

    [edit] Arguments for conscription

    [edit] Valuable training

    Some argue that peacetime conscription is an ideal tool for teaching a population basic, important skills such as first aid, swimming, wilderness survival and so on. However, it can also be argued that these skills could better be taught in the public school system than during mandatory service.

    [edit] Rite of passage

    In many countries, conscription serves as a rite of passage. The value of a boy is tested; whether or not he can endure the hardships of military training and earn to be called a man. This is summarized best by phrase army makes boys into men. Military service can therefore be seen as "test of manhood", or "school of men", which only the worthy men pass and the unworthy fail. For example, in Finland, the reserve military rank is considered quite a valuable asset for a manager in civilian work, carrying prestige comparable to education, work experience or recommendations. Almost all Finnish managers are either reserve non-commissioned officers or reserve officers (see management by perkele). Conscription can create the "we-spirit" in the nation, unifying the people: as all able-bodied males have had the same experience and are soldiers, it creates immense unity and team spirit in the nation, thus effectively preventing rioting and uprisings against the government. While this usage can be seen sexist or militaristic or discriminating against the conscientious objectors, conscription is an extremely important method of creating the national spirit.

    [edit] The draft as protection against democracy-destroying military coups

    Some argue that conscription should be connected to democracy. A professional army can possibly become a dangerous state-within-a-state. Military virtues such as obedience to orders and respect for the chain of command can possibly be abused by aspiring dictators. Armed forces can attract—consciously or unconsciously—people who prefer authoritarian systems. The army can even become the only chance for a job and decent life in times of unemployment (this was crucial in the rise of Japanese militarism), or for despised minorities. Such people may come to regard the army as their home and elevate it above the state.

    On the other hand, once in power a number of dictators such as Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and Saddam Hussein have used conscription to drive their undemocratic ambitions. The most significant attempt on Hitler's life was from the professional component of his military.

    [edit] Manpower

    Small countries have several options to raise a sizeable army. One is to put every able-bodied man under arms. This is how Switzerland managed to stay independent despite repeated attacks throughout history. The Swiss militias were so successful that their fighting style and weapons (especially the halberd) were quickly adopted by their enemies. This in turn made the Swiss very popular as mercenaries; many rulers even raised Swiss Guards. The rich Flemish trade cities of the early 14th century raised huge militias that could even defeat armies of knights. The famous Battle of the Golden Spurs (1302) is a good example.

    Other options for national defence include membership in a military alliance like NATO, as is the case for countries like Belgium and Luxembourg. Switzerland started out as a military alliance between independent cantons. However, the membership in such alliance decreases the independence of a country, making it dependent on its stronger allies.

    Also, a wealthy small country could hire a professional mercenary army. This approach does, however, require wealth and men who are willing to hire on. Moreover, it required some means to control the mercenaries if they became unruly.

    However, conscription creates numbers but not quality. Niccolo Machiavelli's attempts to raise a conscript army in Milan ended in catastrophe; the conscripts did not have adequate training or experience, and were awkward to perform drill and maneuvre. If the conscript army is trained only during the crisis, the limits on time and resources on training enable only rudimentary training; anything else is to be learnt on battlefield in practise. However, this can be avoided by peace-time conscription to train a large reserve usable in a crisis. However, the quality of the reserve must be maintained by steady refresher exercises.

    The losses of conscript armies on battlefield are often large, but waste of manpower is limited by the fact that the supply of able-bodied males in a nation is not inexhaustible. In addition, any government waging a prolonged war with conscripts will risk losing popular support and following loss of power.

    [edit] Personnel diversity

    Perhaps the kind of people who most strongly want to be in the military are not always the only kind of people who are needed in it. Conscripts come from various backgrounds and might have differing opinions and views. A diverse group is arguably more likely to succeed at any task. Still, the frequently lower morale and experience of conscripts may make them less useful in actual combat situations. This has been witnessed in the Vietnam War and Soviet-Afghan War.

    Personnel diversity might be bad for armies in some ways, by inhibiting communication and increasing social tension, but it also helps different people come together and realize the true nature of an all-inclusive society. For example, it helps them understand the problems of other classes, professions, cultures, and educational levels. Similar arguments have been presented in favor of desegregation in schools. However, in countries that already have desegregated schools (i.e. most of the western world) it is not clear why the armed forces would be more important in bringing different people together than the school system, or could accomplish this in ways in which the school system could not.

    [edit] Conscript quality

    The manpower quality of a conscript force is considered poor in many countries. However, in some countries with conscription, the personnel diversity of the conscript force is considered its greatest strength. Admittedly, there are persons who would not be employed by a professional force, but these are a minority, and can be discharged for medical reasons in extreme cases.

    However, the conscript force may also receive the best of the youth which would never join a professional army. Many conscripts are from such social strata that they would have much more lucrative employment or would be studying, were they not obliged to serve. These persons provide talented manpower that can easily be trained for technical and leadership duties. As junior NCO and commissioned officer positions are filled with leadership-trained conscripts, the size and cost of the professional cadre is much smaller. As these ex-conscripts, as reservists, mature and lose their fighting fitness, they can be subsequently retrained and given emergency positions corresponding their civilian expertise. For example, a transport manager who is a reserve officer might serve as a battalion logistics chief during wartime. The leadership-trained conscripts can also be recruited to the regular forces. The Israeli Defence Forces are based on conscription and its excellent performance is often explained by the quality of the manpower. However, as the tour of duty is three years, and as the nation lives in continuous threat of war, the military training is very thorough and can well be compared to that of the all-volunteer professional armies.

    The worst problem is however that the training must be designed by the physical fitness and the learning ability of the least able of the youth. However, this can be at least partly avoided by differentiating the conscript training. Even the least able can usually fulfill important roles in relatively easy logistics duties, while the most able can be trained quite well as specialists.

    In many cases the conscript servicemates may have social or societal problems, they may be criminals, bullies or drug abusers, or they may even be sociopaths and their influence can lead into even worse frustration and demotivation. On the other hand, a well-organized unit can absorb a number of such persons and even give them a better start into life. Extreme cases can be handled by using medical discharges. Some countries have recognized this problem, and attempt to exclude the potential troublemakers even before they get to serve. On the other hand, in some countries (like in Russia) the problems with this issue are extremely dire (see dedovschina).

    [edit] Total war

    Total war means harnessing all the nation for warfare. In that viewpoint, the citizens exist solely to support the nation, and citizens are nothing but resource supplies for the nation's war machinery. Peace can be seen as nothing short of preparation period for new war and repairing the damage and re-arming the armed forces. The conscription can be seen as the natural way to relate on men's role for the society: each and every able-bodied male is first and foremost a soldier and only secondarily a citizen.

    This world view was quite common in the Western world from 1855 to 1945 (from Crimean War to the end of World War II). Some even consider that most European states were armies who had their own nations. While this view led into militarism and immense carnage and slaughter in both World Wars, it also created the civil society. Conscription was also seen as "school of men" which gives the young men the essential social and societal skills.

    The sensibility of the total war viewpoint can be questionized today. While the industrialization created new means of production and factories to supply the armies with new weapons and machinery, the civilian population and the factories also contributed a viable target for bombing and warring on civilians as means of indirect approach. On the other hand, the globalisation has led in rapid deindustrialisation of productive industry in the First World countries, leaving the societies devoid from means of production of the essentials (which can be produced at cheaper cost in underdeveloped countries). While this makes sense in the peacetime, First World countries are today in extremely precarious situation on self-sustenance and cannot stand a prolonged war. In that respect it makes also no sense to arm the whole nation and prepare for years of conflict, but rather to create small professional forces, which are quick to react and have light logistics, and which can run a decisive campaign in short period of time instead of getting stuck on years of war of attrition which has no winners.

    [edit] Political and moral motives

    Jean Jacques Rousseau argued vehemently against professional armies, feeling it was the right and privilege of every citizen to participate to the defence of the whole society and a mark of moral decline to leave this business to professionals. He based this view on the development of the Roman republic which came to an end at the same time as the Roman army changed from a conscript to professional force.

    Some ideologies and cultures, especially in the East, and those based on collectivism or statism, value the society and common good above the life of an individual. Just as cells form a body, the humans form a society, and the interest of the society overcomes the interests of the individual, including his freedom and human rights; cells must die that the human body can live. Those ideologies and Weltanschaungs justify the state to force its members to protect itself and risk their lives and limbs for the common good. In states based on society-centered ideologies, Weltanschaungs and religions, conscription is the natural way of raising the army. In the era of total war, for a small nation the conscription is the only alternative to build an army of credible strength. Able-bodied males are an essential part of the national war machinery for total war.

    The right of the state to conscript its citizens can be founded on Utilitarianist principles. First, we conjecture that the army must never be used for a war of aggression, but only to preserve the state. Second, we conjecture that the occupation by a foreign country would include unbearable conditions, e.g. genocide or destruction of the local way of life. If these two requirements are fulfilled, the greatest good to the greatest number of people may be achieved by sacrificing a number of people and thus, these people, the reservists serving in the armed forces, should be willing to make this sacrifice out of altruism. In fact, even without accepting this, the moderate (1–10%) chance of dying compared to the prospect of living in an occupied country may be preferable.

    Conscription can give the conscripts a lasting patriotic view and readiness to die for the good of the whole. Such readiness should be present in a virtuous citizen at all times, but through training, the readiness becomes a grim reality, not rhetoric. This tends to decrease the admiration of the military. On the other hand, the fact that every person understands that a war—any war—means that they themselves, friends, and relatives will be dying or at the least, facing mortal danger, decreases the willingness to enter an armed conflict. In practice, engaging a conscript force in an aggressive war for a prolonged period results in morale degradation both at home and on the front, testified by Afghanistan and Vietnam Wars. On the other hand, a professional army is usually composed mainly of the members of lower classes, making prolonged offensive wars easier.

    [edit] Arguments against conscription

    [edit] Conscription and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    Many arguments opposed to conscription, or opposed to gender-discriminated conscription, arise from its violation of the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. In particular:

    • Art.1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. (…)
    • Art.2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as (…) sex (…)
    • Art.3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
    • Art.4: No one shall be held in (…) servitude (…)
    • Art.13: (1)Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
    • Art.20: (…) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
    • Art.23: Everyone has the right (…) to free choice of employment (…)

    In addition, many Constitutions do provide similar rights in Countries where there is or has been some form of conscription after World War II or that maintain a possibility of conscription in time of war.

    [edit] The draft as slavery

    Conscription subjects individual personalities to militarism. It is a form of servitude. That nations routinely tolerate it, is just one more proof of its debilitating influence
    Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, H.G. Wells, Bertrand Russell and Thomas Mann in Against Conscription and the Military Training of Youth—1930

    Some groups, such as libertarians, say that the draft constitutes slavery, since it is mandatory work[6]. Under the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, slavery or other involuntary servitude is not allowed unless it is part of punishment for a crime. They therefore see the draft as unconstitutional (at least in the U.S.) and immoral. In 1918, the Supreme Court ruled that the World War I draft did not violate the United States Constitution. Arver v. United States, 245 U.S. 366 (1918) ([7]). The Court detailed its conclusion that the limited powers of the federal government included conscription. Its only statement on the Thirteenth Amendment issue was based on a "supreme and noble duty" argument from nationalism and not legal reasoning:

    Finally, as we are unable to conceive upon what theory the exaction by government from the citizen of the performance of his supreme and noble duty of contributing to the defense of the rights and honor of the nation as the result of a war declared by the great representative body of the people can be said to be the imposition of involuntary servitude in violation of the prohibitions of the Thirteenth Amendment, we are constrained to the conclusion that the contention to that effect is refuted by its mere statement.

    Conscription even ends up mirroring many of the infamous traits of chattel slavery in the America South; one's life is in the hands of those giving orders, to be sacrificed at will, one can be severely punished, even imprisoned, beaten, or killed, for trying to escape. Capital punishment has been commonly used as means of maintaining morale and keeping discipline in conscription armies but is not used in contemporary Western countries with conscription.

    In the USSR, most of the conscripts received only very basic training and were used for forced labor unrelated to actual military service—usually digging up potatoes in the field with zero wage cost. This contributed to the lack of incentives for the Soviet planned economy system to produce better combined harvesting machines and Soviet agriculture remained low-tech.

    In Soviet-bloc Hungary, more than half of pre-1989 conscripts received a mere few weeks of rifle training and were swiftly assigned to "working squadrons" which usually hand-built rail tracks "for free", and in very poor quality. At the same time, railway tracks in Western Europe were being built to high-quality standards by semi-automatic, rail-rolling factories operated by a professional workforce.

    These are examples of a "military" draft used to obtain involuntary labour. They also illustrate one key theme of Adam Smith and other liberal economists that Liberty is the key method of social improvement. When compulsion takes the place of free markets and free Labour the efficiency of the economy is reduced. Compulsion also means that the Wages and working conditions of the Workers is inferior. David Hume points out that this was illustrated by the press gang. The legalised abduction of citizens by the state makes for military inefficiency as well as economic inefficiency and a denial of Constitutional freedom. When Labour is too cheap it will be wasted as other commodities are and this is one reason for the collapse of Communism in the USSR.

    [edit] The draft as ageism

    Conscription is usually limited to young people, and the burden of conscription is almost never spread equally across all age groups. The youngest people considered qualified are usually conscripted first. Opponents of ageism, and advocates of youth liberation, argue that age-based military conscription is the most severe disparity on the basis of age of any government mandate on individuals. This argument is epitomized by the Phil Ochs song, "I Ain't Marching Any More": "It's always the old who lead us to the war; it's always the young who fall." Even in countries with elected governments, conscripts are often too young to be allowed to vote or participate in decisions on whether to go to war or to impose or set policies for conscriptiuon. The Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which lowered the voting age to 18, was proposed and approved largely in response to criticism of conscription based on the unfairness of drafting men too young to be allowed to vote. But draft-age voters in the USA are still overwhelmingly outnumbered by voters too old to be conscripted.

    [edit] The draft as sexism

    Traditionally conscription has been limited to only male population. Women and non-able-bodied males have been exempted from conscription. While many societies have traditionally considered conscription as test of manhood and a rite of passage from boyhood into manhood. "making boys into men", most modern nations see this as a bizarre carryover from savage tribes promoting militarism. Since young men spend several months or perhaps years in unpaid service as unfree subjects while young women can at the same time study, work, found families and find their niche in the society, conscription is more and more considered as an unfair and sexistic institution whose sole intention is to punish boys from being born as males. Conscription is seen also signaling inequality; as men are required to risk their life and limb without any compensation while women aren't, it is a clear signal the society values far more the lives of women than those of men, and men are just expendables.

    [edit] Discipline problems

    No army can work without discipline. The discipline can either arise from the esprit de corps, motivation of the soldiers or be imposed and pressed on the troops. Volunteers seldom have disciplinary problems, but people pressed in the service against their will have little other motivation to serve than personal survival. As motivation is based on coercion, the discipline on conscript armies is often harsh, and punishments severe. Capital punishment, usually by firing squad, is used almost universally to maintain discipline on conscription armies during the wartime. It is estimated the executions covered some 1% to 5% of all conscript losses in WWII. This can be best summarized by statement of Leon Trotsky: An army cannot be built without reprisals. Masses of men cannot be led to death unless the army command has the death penalty in its arsenal. So long as those malicious tailless apes that are so proud of their technical achievements — the animals that we call men — will build armies and wage wars, the command will always be obliged to place the soldiers between the possible death in the front and the inevitable one in the rear. As result, conscript armies are more likely to mutiny than all-volunteer forces, and like the Vlasov army, can in extreme cases turn against their own.

    Especially dire the discipline problems become when the ablest of the youth are forced to serve against their will under the authority of people they consider dumber or untalented or simply because of unquestionized authority. This was seldom a problem in the period of Industrialism when only the upper social classes had access for higher education, but proved problematic already in the Vietnam War, when college students were conscripted to fight as privates under non-commissioned officers who seldom had any higher education. As the able boys felt they were being led into slaughter by leaders dumber than themselves, the morale sank very low, and led into erosion of discipline, culminating into murders and fragging incidents. This problem could be avoided by giving the most able conscripts NCO or officer training, which was widely done in the US Army during the World War II.

    [edit] The draft as nationalism and promoting militarism

    The military draft is predicated on the assumption that nations have rights that supersede those of the individual. In the words of Einstein and Gandhi's Anti-Conscription Manifesto, "The State which thinks itself entitled to force its citizens to go to war will never pay proper regard to the value and happiness of their lives in peace." The building of large conscript armies coincided with the rise of virulent nationalism in the 19th and 20th centuries, culminating into total war in World War II and seeing savagery and brutality in such scale not encountered since the Biblical times.

    In peacetime, conscription can create an atmosphere of militarism and bigotry in the society. Since each and every male has military training and has been subjected to military indoctrination, men also tend to reflect their thoughts in means of military. This also may promote chauvinism, authoritarianism and societal and social violence. However, it could also cause the opposite. Many young men in countries with compulsory conscription develop a cynical stance about militarism because the mandatory nature of conscription creates low morale amongst soldiers. This is especially true in countries where nationalist feelings are weak to begin with, such as Austria, Germany and Sweden.

    Men who have had military training can also be more ready to use violence to solve human relations' conflicts than those who have not had. As results, prisons are over-represented in some countries by men who have had military training. Conscription also may create an atmosphere of chauvinism, sexism and discrimination against those men who haven't served in the armed forces. For example finding a job may prove extremely difficult for the conscientious objectors.

    Draftees can object to being conscripted if they are separatists and do not want to support the armies of the state they oppose. On the other hand, some separatist fighters acquire their military skills in the army they will later fight against.

    [edit] The draft as justification for attacks on civilians

    Conscription is a component of "total war", and can also be used as an example of established policy to justify a government's demand that other sacrifices be required of civilians. Once a draft is allowed, Justice Louis Brandeis argued, "all bets are off". Arguably this results in a blurring of the moral distinction between civilians and the military as legitimate military targets, leading to attacks on civilians. Examples would include the indiscriminate bombing of cities conducted by both sides during World War II, or the assertion by terrorist groups that civilians are legitimate targets (as currently occurs in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict).

    [edit] Questions of conscript quality

    One of the objections raised is a conscripted force would be of lower quality than a volunteer army. First, short periods of service do not allow for much skill building. Second, there is a possibility of a morale drop in units with conscripts, leading to a reduction in quality as officers and NCOs work to alleviate those problems.

    The biggest problem is that the pace of training has to be adjusted to the level of the lowest quality manpower. Combined with the short tour of duty, this renders the skills of the conscripts very low. Certain individuals with poor military and social skills may prove loose cannons in wartime, proving more a liability than an asset to the unit and perhaps risking the destruction of the whole unit. Therefore the elite units of all armies which have conscription, are composed entirely of selected volunteers, such as Parachute Rangers in the Finnish army.

    Likewise, the military training of the conscripts is almost universally very rudimentary. It seldom goes beyond drill, shooting practise, rudimentary specialization on one's service branch and weapons (rifles, artillery, grenade launchers, missiles, mines and explosives etc) and basic battlefield training. For example, the Argentinian military service was known as la colimba; the word colimba is a composite word made from the initial syllables of the verbs correr (to run), limpiar (to clean) and barrer (to sweep), as it was perceived that all a conscript did during service was running, cleaning and sweeping. Conscripts themselves were known and referred to as "colimbas". Likewise, many nations have used conscripts simply as unfree costless work force, organized as "work battalions" for agriculture and building infrastructure instead of decent military training.

    [edit] Economics

    It can be argued that in a cost to benefit ratio conscription during peace time is not worthwhile. A number of months or years of service amongst the most fit subtracts from the productivity of the economy; add to this the cost of training them, and in some countries paying them. Compared to these extensive costs, some would argue there is very little benefit, if there ever were a war conscription and basic training could be completed quickly, and in most countries where conscription is compulsory there is little threat of war in any case.

    The cost to benefit ratio of conscription during war time is also debatable. As technology improves, the necessity of a soldier on the battlefield becomes less and less necessary. Superior technology, not superior numbers, has become the deciding factor in war. The cost to train, equip, and care for a poorly trained conscript does not justify the contribution (if any) he or she makes to the armed forces.

    Alternative theories suggest that readiness for war in times of crises require constant training or conscription. These fall under the category of "credible threat" recently popularized by 2005 Nobel economic laureates Robert Aumann and Thomas Schelling who were partially credited with the non-nuclear cold war between the United States and the former Soviet Union.

    Particularly in times of military duress, such as the current U.S. conflict in Iraq, conscription serves as an instrument through which fresh soldiers may be readied when reserves and voluntary troops have been overutilized. These new troops ultimately provide more efficient use of U.S. economic resources due to the fact that individuals plan for military involvement as a normal activity. Draft assignments, in contrast, disrupt everyday activity and lead to possibly greater economic shock.

    The conscription can also be related to the parable of the broken window. Military service can be related to any work. The costs of work do not disappear anywere even if no salary is paid. The work effort of the conscripts is effectively wasted; unwilling work force is extremely inefficient and the conscripts also lose their opportunities for studies, work, founding families and finding their niches in the society. The hidden costs of conscription often prove higher than the costs of all-volunteer paid force. Especially dire this is in wartime, when civilian professionals are forced to fight as amateur soldiers. As the military training of conscripts is at best rudimentary, the conscript armies have to replace quality with quantity, making conscript armies large and unwieldy. Not only the work effor of the conscriptst is wasted and productivity is lost, but they also are hard to replace on work force. In addition if they get killed or maimed permanently, their work effort is irrevocably lost. Another aspect is related to parable of the broken window. Each and every soldier conscripted in the army is away from his civilian work, and away from the economy making money with which the war is funded. This is not a problem in an agrarian or pre-industrialized state where the level of education is universally low, and where a worker is easily replaced by another, but proves extremely problematic in a post-industirial society where education is high and where work force is highly sophisticated; a replacement for a conscripted specialist is difficult to find. Even more dire the situation comes if the professional conscripted into amateur soldier gets killed or maimed for life; his work effort and productivity is irrevocably lost Template:Fact

    [edit] See also

    [edit] References

    <references />

    [edit] External links

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