Sweden re-introduces military conscription
The Swedish government has voted to bring back military conscription. According to sources, service will be made compulsory form 1 January 2018. Sweden's defence ministry spokesperson Marinette Nyh Radebo said the move seeks to bolster Swedish defences amidst a changing security environment in the neighbourhood. 13,000 citizens born after 1999 will undergo military assessment, of which 4000 will be called upon for service.
Conscription in other countries
France, UK and Germany abolished conscription; however, Germany still has a provision for the same in their constitution. In Turkey, all men over the age of 20 must serve for 6 to 15 months in the military. In Russia all men aged 18-27 have to spend a year in the armed forces. Ukraine also has conscription. All Baltic states have some form of conscription.
In Switzerland all men between 19-34 years have to serve regular stints in the military with breaks in between. The men are allowed to keep their military equipment at home when they are not serving.
Sweden's defence priorities
A recent report tabled in the Swedish Parliament highlighted an alarming shortfall in Sweden's defence forces. The report said that recruitment of reserve squad leaders, soldiers and sailors had "proved to be problematic." Sweden has only 52,000 full-time military personnel - 20,000 of them permanent and most of the others Home Guards. The report said measures needed to be taken to address these issues.
Russian aggression, Trump's anti-NATO stance
Russian aggression in Crimea set alarm bells ringing among Nordic nations. While Norway and Denmark are part of NATO, Sweden and Finland are not. Donald Trump's statements against NATO have raised serious concerns among NATO members and other EU states, fearing that the US may not be there in case of renewed Russian aggression. Sweden seeks to secure its position in the Baltic sea.
How will the conscription work?
According to reports, the 13,000 individuals who will be called upon for military assessments will include both conscripts as well as volunteers. Based upon performance, they will be selected for service. Men and women are treated equally in this regard. They will be asked to serve 9-12 months, and will then be given the option of joining full-time or in the reserves.