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03 Feb 2019
Ministry of Defense
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Conscription in Switzerland

Switzerland depends on a large force of conscripted soldiers, like Singapore. How does Switzerland handle its conscription?

I obtained this information from Wikipedia. Click here.

I find the Swiss system to be a good model for Singapore to follow. It produces a strong defense capability made up of conscripts but does not impose a heavy burden on the conscripts. It is a more effective use of their human resources. 

Here is a description of the system used in Switzerland. 


Under the country's military system, professional soldiers constitute about 5 percent of the military and the rest are conscripts or volunteers aged 19 to 34 (in some cases up to 50).

Because of Switzerland's long history of neutrality, the armed forces do not take part in conflicts in other countries, but it does participate in international peacekeeping missions.

Compulsory military service applies to all male Swiss citizens, with women serving voluntarily. Males usually receive initial orders at the age of 18 for military conscription eligibility screening. About two-thirds of young Swiss men are found suitable for service, while alternative service exists for those found unsuitable.

Annually, approximately 20,000 persons are trained in basic training for 18 weeks (23 weeks for special forces).

Additional training, however, is required throughout adulthood. Most commonly it amounts to six training periods of 19 days each. The basic military service obligation, therefore, amounts to about 260 days.

The basic civil service obligation, on the other hand, amounts to about 390 days, which is required by statute to be one and one half times as long as the basic military service 

Since 2003, Switzerland has a military force of  200,000 personnel, 120,000 receiving periodic military training and 80,000 reservists who have completed their total military training requirements.

Service in the army or civil protection usually begins at the age of 20, but recruitment may commence as early as 16 for those interested in preparatory courses, which are a precondition for gaining access to some sectors of the armed forces.

After the first written communications, all the male conscripts (for which attendance is mandatory) and female volunteers are convoked for an information day usually taking place near the municipality of residence of the attendants.

During this day they are given a presentation of the army, the civil protection, Switzerland's security policy, an overview of their rights and duties and administrative directives.

On this occasion conscripts are issued a service record book, used to attest the fulfilment of military obligations. It is possible to postpone service up to four years given adequate reasons (e.g. study abroad). Any further delaying of service could incur fines.

Conscripts are advised to either carry out their service in a single long stretch or to fraction their time by undergoing recruit training first and serving in a later phase.

Recruitment itself takes place over a period of two or three days in one of the six recruitment centres spread across Switzerland . Recruits are assigned different positions according to their physical fitness, intellectual capabilities and aptitude.

Military service is not mandatory for females, but they may volunteer for any position. 

In 2016, an expert commission that the Swiss government charged with reviewing the country's conscription system recommended that women be included in the military draft in order to meet its annual demand of 18,000 new soldiers a year.

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