Sweden brings back military conscription

By Molly Ambler

In the wake of Trump’s latest astonishing comments and the recent world events like Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the terrorist attacks in France, most notably Charlie Hebdo attack in 2015, Sweden is following suit with other European countries and reintroducing conscription for both genders.

Sweden has emulated Norway in reintroducing military conscription for both genders.

The plans include 13,000 recruits being called up each year and from these 13,000 only 4,000 will be called upon to serve.

The conscripts will join the army aged 18 and be conscripted for 11 months service.

This new system is expected to come into effect on the 1st January 2018.

The current system in the majority of EU countries heavily relies on volunteers for their armed forces with few or no penalties when someone refuses to serve.

Sweden and Norway are not the only European countries to be considering this move; in Switzerland, a referendum was held in 2013 in which 73% of people favoured the introduction of conscription.

The current system in Switzerland allows youngsters to choose between joining the military or the civil protection force.

Favour towards conscription is spreading rapidly across Europe with polls in France showing 80% of the public would like compulsory military service to return, however only 36% in Germany share these sentiments.

This solution, as well as being a reaction to the increasing pressures across the world, may also be a solution to youth unemployment.

The Swedish Defence Minister, Peter Hultqvist, said the left-leaning government is reintroducing the draft because of a deteriorating security environment in Europe and around Sweden.

Mr Hultqvist told a public radio service that, “We have had trouble staffing the military units on a voluntary basis and that needs to be addressed somehow.”

Sweden has not seen conflict for two centuries, yet has decided to reintroduce conscription amid this tense climate across the world. This policy will only affect people born after 1999.

This move has been hailed as “an intelligent proposal given that we have seen for a number of years now that volunteers are not sufficient to supply either the quality or quantity of soldiers” by Johan Osterberg, a researcher from the School for Advanced Defence Studies.

Sweden is not a member of NATO, however did sign the organisation’s partnership for peace programme launched in 1994 to develop military cooperation between NATO and non-member countries.

Sweden has recently also stepped up its military efforts, sending 150 troops to the island of Gotland in September, sitting between the mainland and a number of former Soviet Baltic states amid rising tensions with Russia.

There is also the aim to hold a full battalion on the island by 2018. Sweden, along with other European countries, appears to be increasingly concerned about rising tensions with Russia and the USA under the Trump administration.

Will a reintroduction of conscription become a trend across all of Europe?




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Why Did Gair Rhydd Visit Israel and Palestine?

• To hear from people on the ground about the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

•To encourage greater understanding of the complexities of the conflict to help us facilitate discussion about the situation upon returning home outside of the traditional media narrative.

•To prompt us to begin considering how discussions can move forward in the hopes of one day finding a solution to the conflict.

•To show us first-hand how fragile Israeli-Palestinian relations are to broaden our understanding of the struggles faced by all who are intimately affected by the conflict.

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This trip was facilitated by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS). They have been around since 1919, addressing the concerns of 8,500 Jewish Students in Universities. They aim to lead campaigns fighting prejudice, creating inclusive environments, and educating people on divisive issues. To find out more about the work UJS do, head over to their website.