Which countries maintain compulsory military service?

A total of 26 countries have mandatory military service. There are states that require a specific amount of military service from each citizen, except in special cases, such as physical or mental disorders or religious beliefs. Most countries that use recruitment systems only recruit men; although today some also recruit women. For example, Norway, Sweden, North Korea, Israel, and Eritrea recruit men and women. However, only Norway and Sweden have a gender neutral recruitment system, where men and women are recruited and serve on equal formal terms. Some nations with recruiting systems do not enforce them.

Countries with compulsory military service:

Armenia


Armenia has compulsory military service for two years for men between the ages of 18 and 27.

Austria

Austria has compulsory military service for all male citizens without disabilities up to 35 years of age. Since 2006, the service period has been six months. Conscientious objectors can join the civil service (called Zivildienst) for nine months. A 10-month participation in the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service, the Austrian Social Service or the Austrian Peace Service is considered equivalent to civil service.

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan has compulsory military service for all able-bodied men who are at least 18 years of age. Military service lasts 18 months for those without higher education and 12 months for those with higher education

Belarus

Belarus has compulsory military service for all trained men from 18 to 27 years old. Military service lasts 18 months for those without higher education and 12 months for those with higher education.

Bermuda

Bermuda, although an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, still maintains compulsory military service for its local force. Men between the ages of 18 and 32 are chosen by lottery to serve in the Bermuda Regiment for a period of 38 months. However, the commitment is only part-time. Anyone who objects to this has the right to have their case heard by a waiver court.

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Brazil

Men in Brazil must serve 12 months of military service after their 18th birthday. While all males are required by law to serve, numerous exceptions make military service de facto limited primarily to volunteers, with an average of 5-10% of those who sign up for service being drafted. Most often, the service is performed at military bases as close to the person’s home as possible

Cyprus

Cyprus has compulsory military service for all Greek Cypriot men between the ages of 17 and 50. In addition, as of 2008, all men belonging to the Armenian, Latino and Maronite religious groups also serve in their military service.

North Korea

Recruitment occurs in North Korea despite ambiguity regarding its legal status. Men are recruited universally, while women undergo selective recruitment. It takes place at age 17 and service ends at age 30. Children of political elites are exempt from conscription, as are people from castes considered bad (social status attributed in North Korea).

South Korea

South Korea has a mandatory military service of 21 months in the army and marines, 23 in the navy, and 24 months in the air force and special civil service. There are no alternatives for conscientious objectors except incarceration. In general, with very few exceptions, the majority of South Korean men serve in the military.

Denmark

As described in the Danish Constitution, the country has a compulsory service for all men without disabilities. The normal service is four months, and is normally attended by men between the ages of 18 and 27. Danish men will generally receive a letter around the date they turn 18, asking when their current education ends (if any) and some time after, depending on when, they will receive a notice as to when to attend the drafts office to be physically and psychologically evaluated.

Egypt

Egypt has a compulsory military service program for men between the ages of 18 and 30. Recruitment is regularly postponed for students until the end of their studies, provided they apply before their 28th birthday. At the age of 30, a man is deemed unfit to join the army and pays a fine. Men without siblings, or those who financially support their parents, are exempt from the service.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE began its national service requirement in September 2014. This is the first time the UAE has required mandatory national service. All male citizens over the age of 18 and under the age of 30 are required to report for military service. Foreign male residents are not required to serve in military service.

Finland

Finland has compulsory military service for men of a minimum duration of five and a half months (165 days); depending on the assigned position: those trained as officers or NCOs serve for 11½ months (347 days), specialized troops serve for 8½ (255 days) or 11½ months.

Greece

Since 2009, Greece has a compulsory military service of nine months for men in the Army and 12 months for the Navy and Air Force. Some are entitled to reduced service due to serious family reasons (single parent families, parents serving in the military, etc.). Although Greece is developing a professional military system, it continues to apply compulsory 9-month military service.

Iran

Iran has a mandatory military service for men that begins at age 18. The length of military service is normally 24 months, but it can also vary according to some conditions and circumstances. There is a military service of 24 months in general, 22 months for disadvantaged areas and 20 months for border areas; There are two months for military education. There are exceptions for those who are unable to serve due to physical or mental health problems or disabilities.

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Israel

Israel recruits men and women. All Israeli citizens are recruited at age 18, with the following exceptions:

Torah students are currently exempt from service if they so choose.

Israeli Arabs are exempt from compulsory military service, although they can volunteer.

Jewish women, who choose to declare that they cannot serve due to religious observance reasons.

Women are not induced if they are married or pregnant.

Candidates who do not qualify for reasons of mental or physical health.

Mexico

As of 2011, all men who turn 18 years of age must register for military service for one year, although selection is made through a lottery system that uses the following color scheme: Whoever draws a black ball must serve as an “availability reservist”, that is to say, he must not follow any activity and obtain his discharge card at the end of the year.

Morocco

Morocco eliminated compulsory military service as of August 31, 2006, however this law has been revised in 2018, which will lead to the reintroduction of compulsory military service when Parliament votes the law.

Myanmar

By law, the Burmese board requires non-disabled persons 18 years of age or older to register with local authorities. In 2011, civil servants, students, those serving prison terms, and those who cared for an elderly parent were excluded from the draft, but could later be called to serve. Members of religious orders, disabled people and married or divorced women with children are totally exempt.

Norway

Norway has a mandatory 19-month military service for men and women between the ages of 19 (18 in wartime) and 44 (55 in the case of officers and NCOs). The actual recruitment time is six months for the local guard and 12 months for the regular army, air force and navy. In October 2014, Norway extended compulsory military service to women.

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Russia

The draft system was introduced in Imperial Russia by Dmitry Milyutin on January 1, 1874. As of 2008, the Russian Federation has a mandatory 12-month draft. Some examples of how people avoid being recruited are:

Study at a university or similar place. All full-time students are free from compulsory military service, but can be drafted after graduation (or if they drop out).

Obtain a medical certificate showing that a person is unfit for service.

Have more than two children.

Singapore

After Singapore gained its sovereign independence as an island-city nation, the NS (Amendment) Act was passed on March 14, 1967, under which all non-disabled male citizens of at least 18 years of age were bound by law to serve 24 months of compulsory national service in the Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore Police Force or Singapore Civil Defense Force to defend and protect the country as a sacred and honorable national duty above oneself.

Switzerland

Military service for Swiss men is compulsory according to the Federal Constitution, and includes 18 or 21 weeks of basic training (depending on the rank of the troop), as well as annual refresher courses from three weeks to several days of service increasing with the range (245 days for individuals).

Taiwan

The ROC has had compulsory military service for all men since 1949. Women from the outlying islands of Fuchien were also required to perform a civil defense role, although this requirement has been removed since the lifting of martial law. .

Thailand

The Military Service Law states that all male citizens of Thailand are required to serve in the military upon reaching the age of 21. High school students have the option of enrolling in the three-year Reserve Officers Training Corps during Matthayom 4–6 (ie, Grade 10–12).

Tunisia

In Tunisia, compulsory military service applies to all citizens between the ages of 20 and 35. Those who participate in higher education or vocational training programs prior to their military draft may delay service until they have completed the programs. The duration of military service is one year.

Turkey

In Turkey, compulsory military service applies to all male citizens aged 20 to 40 (with some exceptions). Those who participate in higher education or vocational training programs prior to their military draft may delay service until they have completed the programs or have reached a certain age, depending on the program (for example, 29 years of age for college degrees). The length of basic military service varies.

Ukraine

Options are two-year reserve officer training (offered at universities as part of a program that means not having to join the military) or one-year regular service. In Ukraine, a person could not be recruited after their 27th birthday until their recent conflict with Russia.

And Spain?

Our country abolished compulsory military service in 2001. Military and alternative service (conscientious objection) lasted for nine months and in recent years most conscripts chose to perform alternative service, rather than military.

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Other data

In North Korea, military service is forced for both men and women. However, different terms apply to both groups. Men have to complete 10 years of military service. On the other hand, since 2015, North Korean women must serve in the military from the time they graduate from high school until they turn 23. As a result of this training, the North Korean armed forces are made up of a huge army of 6,445,000 military personnel. Of these, 945,000 are on active duty, while 5.5 million are reserve forces.

Israel has been the pioneer in compulsory military service for decades. Participation in military service has been mandatory for both men and women. For some time, there was a limitation on the combat duties that women could perform. However, in 1994, after a lawsuit against the Israel Defense Forces by Alice Miller for not having permission to fly a plane, women can participate in all combat positions. Mandatory military service is exempt for nursing and pregnant mothers. Also, there are some people who are excluded because of their religious affiliations. Israel is one of the countries with the highest per capita military spending in the world.

Norway has an interesting story about its military service. All men are required to be registered for military service between the ages of 19 and 44, but not for women. This despite the fact that gender equality is a major issue in Norway. For this reason, in 2016 the Norwegian parliament passed a bill that included women with training in military service, in an attempt to promote gender equality. This bill came into effect in the summer of 2016 and all women between the ages of 19 and 44 had to register.

Why make it mandatory?

Compulsory military service is intended to improve security. Countries facing huge security threats require a large military. As such, they prefer to train many men and women to be part of the reserve forces, to be activated when necessary. Consequently, many countries like North Korea and Israel have spent a large portion of their national budgets to cover training costs and invest in superior weaponry.