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Not enough soldiers: Europe brings back conscription

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Croatia and Germany are considering reintroducing compulsory military service, and Denmark will introduce conscription for women.

Amid allegations of a possible Russian attack on one of NATO’s European members, military personnel were dismissed from service. According to Western media, today the EU governments are faced with the question not so much of recruiting new soldiers, but of convincing the military not to leave the service.

Moreover, some European governments in general began to consider fundamental changes in the concept of building their army, forcing the return of conscription for military or national service.

Lack of staff

This week, French Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Lecornu announced a plan to encourage troops to stay in service. It comes days after Germany presented an annual report showing that about 1,537 soldiers left the Bundeswehr in 2023, reducing its strength to 181,514 troops, Politico reported.

“These talks are now taking place in all the capitals, in all the democracies that have professional armies without conscription,” Lecornu said on Monday, March 18, referring to Britain and the United States united states

“At NATO meetings we can talk about equipment, but now we are also talking about… the level of maintenance,” he added.

In general, in France, military personnel remain in the armed forces an average of one year less than before. The UK faces an annual manpower shortfall of 1,100 troops, the equivalent of two infantry battalions, despite the government contracting private recruiting firm Capita.

One of Paris’ key measures to prevent the dismissal of military personnel is to increase pay and old-age pensions by including bonuses. But according to Politico, the problem is that the conditions of service are not very attractive: chronic overtime, months away from home and missed recovery periods are common.

“I would rather reduce the number of recruits to improve staff retention than continue recruitment, as a result of which the number of people retained continues to decrease,” said Lecornu.

Engaging women in defense

Other countries are more radical on this issue. Thus, Croatia considered the possibility of reintroducing conscription, and the Danish government decided to introduce women’s military service on an equal basis with men. The standard will take effect in 2026.

“Defending your country is one of the noblest things you can do. That is why the government now proposes to expand conscription, increase responsibilities and increase the number of tasks. And then we propose complete equality- equally between the articles,” said Danish Prime Minister Matte Frederiksen, conveyed by DR.

In addition, the country will extend the period of military service from 4 to 11 months. The first five months will be basic, and in the last six months, the conscripts will become part of the armed forces personnel.

The country’s Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen added that this means that “all young people – regardless of gender – have to be called up on Armed Forces Day and do their military service under the same conditions.”

“In other words, the call must be modern – partly because of the core values ​​we have, which reflect our society, but also partly because of the threat we face,” said the minister.

Denmark’s decision to enlist women in the military has also drawn interest in Finland, where NATO recruits only accept men. Therefore, the country’s government began to actively discuss changes in the law to attract women to the army.

The experience that Germans want to embrace

Germany is also accelerating the reintroduction of conscription. According to SPIEGEL, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius ordered his department to “present, by April 1, the options for a model of the German military service that creates a measurable, adapted to the threat that contribution to national stability.”

According to the publication, Pistorius wants to present and accept his model call for the federal election. In particular, the Policy Department of the Ministry of Defense has been instructed to prepare a corresponding document. It is expected that the Germans will use the Swedish experience as a model.

As a reminder, compulsory military service has been reintroduced in Sweden since 2017, but in a different form than in Germany before it was suspended in 2008.

In Sweden, it has its own TRO format: first, all school graduates are recruited, and then the army selects the most suitable for military service, in particular, it is about 10 percent of reservists. Thus, in recent years, Sweden has been able to gather enough volunteers for its army.

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Source: korrespondent

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