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Compulsory military service proposed again by Salvini: where is it still in Europe?

Is compulsory military service coming back? Minister Salvini proposes a form of service like the military one, abolished in 2005. «The League has almost completed the drafting of a bill to reintroduce a universal conscription, six months mandatory for boys and girls, serving the community, on a regional basis». The deputy prime minister's announcement Matteo Salvini he arrived at the Alpini rally in Vicenza at the weekend. «It's a great form of civic education, with people who can dedicate themselves to rescue, civil protection, first aid, and protecting the woods to carry out close to home. Once upon a time, someone from Udine went to Bari, and someone from Bari was sent to Udine, having to leave his studies and work. It won't be like this anymore, it will be done close to home. I hope that other political forces will also support the proposal.”

Salvini did not talk about a strictly military service, but his proposal has already been stopped by the Minister of Defense Guido Crosetto. «The armed forces cannot be thought of as a place to educate young people, which must be done by the family and the school. The armed forces serve to create professionals who defend institutions and peace. Universal civil service is not something that concerns the armed forces.” Crosetto seems closer to the hypothesis of reservists, volunteers trained with periodic updates. Former soldiers or members of the police force or people already with skills related to rescue, logistics and security could be recruited. No one would go to the front lines.

On the same topic Maurizio Lupi of Noi moderato: «We are against the reintroduction of compulsory military service, which is not and can never be a tool for educating young people. The current geopolitical situation, however, must lead us to reflect on a shared deficiency, that of a common European defense. In a context subject to threats, the European Union is called upon to engage more in this field».

Only a few days ago the Chief of Defense Staff, Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, in a hearing in Parliament, he defined the Italian armed forces as undersized. There are currently 160 thousand professionals in the army and at least 10 thousand more are needed. However, we are always talking about trained professional staff. The Chief of Army Staff added that the current army needs to be reviewed in various respects.

The issue of security and defense is faced by the entire continent. There Germany is examining different options to strengthen the army, including the reintroduction of compulsory military service which has been suspended since 2011. The least strong hypothesis proposes sending information material on the army to those aged 18 and over and the most extreme one proposes the reintroduction of the year of compulsory military or civil service for all 18 year olds, without distinction of gender. The second would like compulsory military service or a year of civil service for men and voluntary service for women. The objective is to reach 203 thousand soldiers against the current 180,500.

There France, which abolished military conscription in 1997, has 77 thousand reservists available, but would like to reach one hundred thousand with one reserve soldier for every two active soldiers. French President Macron has established the Service Nacional Universel: two weeks of training for children between 15 and 17 years old.

The Baltic Republics have compulsory military service: Estonia never revoked it, Latvia and Lithuania reintroduced it out of fear of aggression from Russia. There Finland has male military service of 6-12 months. In Norway The military visit for men and women takes place at the age of 19 and a maximum of 10 thousand people are selected each year. In Sweden, since 2017 there has been military training for both men and women, only a portion enters the military reserve. In Denmark women can voluntarily do military service, but the country would like to extend compulsory military service to them from 2026. Austria and Greece have military service, but also the possibility of civil service. In the Czech Republic, the reintroduction of military service or other forms of recruitment has been proposed.

In general in Europe there was an increase in military spending after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Since the beginning of 2022, Europe has seen a surge in military spending, reaching a total of 552 billion euros in 2023. The increase is equal to 16% more than what the countries concerned spent in 2022 and 62% more than 2014. The data comes from the Stockholm Peace Research Institute. The countries closest geographically to Russia invested the most: Finland, Lithuania, Sweden and Poland.

Source: Vanity Fair

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