Sunday, November 11, 2012

Example: EU nations continue to phase out military conscription


EU nations continue to phase out military conscription

Much of Europe has done away with compulsory military service, or made heavy cut-backs. Of the 27 EU member states, 21 already make do without conscription. So does the rest of Europe still need the draft?
A French soldier folds the European Union flag Does military conscription still have a place in Europe?
Many European countries, as well as most members of the transatlantic NATO military alliance, have already done away with compulsory military service. Of the 28 NATO countries, 23 have full-time professional armies, and 21 of the 27 European Union nations have abolished the draft. The latest to do so is Sweden, which ended conscription on June 30.
Alongside Turkey, Germany remains the only major NATO country that sill requires its young men to serve in the military. Conscription also still exists in Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece and Norway.
At 26 months, the longest required military service in Europe is on the island of Cyprus. Denmark's conscription seems by contrast to be impractically short, at just 4 months. However, conscription there is only employed if there is a shortage of volunteer recruits.
It has not been that long since the draft was the norm in Europe. During the Cold War and into the 1990s, compulsory military service existed in nearly every European country. Even after the constant threat of the Cold War subsided, several European states did immediately move to strike conscription. France, for example, only got rid of it in 2001. In Italy and the Netherlands, the draft has been put on hold.
Outside EU and NATO territories, compulsory service remains in Belarus, Macedonia, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland and Ukraine.
Professional soldiers preferred

  Cyprus has the longest compulsory service in the EU
Many countries experience difficulty finding enough recruits to fill their military. Another problem with getting rid of the draft is that professional armies are more expensive than those with conscripts.
Yet most national armies in the EU have shrunk to leaner, professional armies, and these do carry several advantages. Professional soldiers are generally better trained, more specialized and far more efficient than conscripts. They are also easier to deploy on overseas missions.
From Hammurabi to the French Revolution

  Professional soldiers can be more easily deployed overseas
Modern conscription originated in post-revolutionary France, where in 1793, the French National Assembly marshaled an army of 300,000 soldiers from the provinces. However, forced recruitment dates back to the beginnings of civilization; draft dodging was even outlawed by the Code of Hammurabi.
In today's world, nearly all countries that require military service also have alternative requirements for those who object to taking up arms.


  1. AsiaOne
    Monday, Nov 12, 2012

    SINGAPORE - With advanced technology and more effective systems and platforms, the 3rd Generation (3G) Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will become a more formidable force that need fewer men to operate in 2040.

    Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen cited examples in his response to a parliamentary question on the future impact of the declining birth rate and ageing population on the SAF.

    One example is the recently acquired High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) which needs only three men to fully operate the system compared with 12 men needed for other artillery systems with less precision and destructive effects.

    Besides investing on advanced technologies, the 3G SAF also aims to raise the quality of servicemen to operate more sophisticated systems.

    "So as a whole, the higher quality of our NS men combined with the advanced platforms and effective use of technology to network our systems, will ensure that the SAF continues to be an effective military force and a strong deterrent against any aggression," said Dr Ng.

    Dr Ng also mentioned that long term projections till 2040 indicate that the SAF will still be able to mobilise about 300,000 soldiers from Regulars, Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) and Operationally Ready NS men (ORNS).

    The SAF have projected enlistment figures based on demographic trends and expect enlistment numbers to slowly drop to about 15,000 NS men each year, similar to the 1990s.

  2. Dear Author/ Blog Owner,

    Just wondering have you ever read a book titled "Defending the Lion City" by Tim Huxley?

  3. Dear Handsome Han Sheng,

    To be honest, citing the book "Defending the lion city" does not answer the point: Why is NS compulsory?

    I agree we need a strong REGULAR military. I am pushing for a Regulars-only military plus volunteers who want to sign up.

    I mean if you really are so keen to serve, then you can join, on a VOLUNTARY BASIS.

    3 more counter-arguments:

    1. The author himself has said, "Comparing Singapore’s geopolitical predicament to Israel, he pointed out difference in the latter being hemmed in by ACTUAL THREAT."
    i.e. The author Tim Huxley has admitted there is NO ACTUAL THREAT.


    2. Please refer to point 1.

    3. When in doubt please refer to point 2.

    1. Hi Author,

      I strongly disagreed fully with your views.

      I hope you can be voted in parliament to abolish NS, only lawmakers in Parliament have to right to abolish NS. You only can make noise here. But in reality, NS still continue, perhaps even you die, NS is still on in Singapore.

      What can you do?
      Be voted into political office to abolish...

  4. BILATERAL ties between Singapore and Malaysia have gone through a bad patch
    lately, with verbal spats turning distinctly belligerent. Malaysian Foreign
    Minister Syed Hamid Albar said on Dec 31 2002: 'Singapore has two choices:
    If it refuses to compromise, go to war.'

    A similarly tense period occurred in 1991 when Malaysia and Indonesia staged
    joint military manoeuvres, code-named Exercise Malindo Darsasa 3AB, on
    peninsular Malaysia from July to August. This was then the largest military
    exercise between Malaysia and Indonesia.

    The highlight of the exercise involved dropping paratroops in southern Johor,
    just 18 km from Singapore's border. The airborne landing site was just minutes
    away by car from the Causeway.

    From Singapore's perspective, the exercise was seen as a deliberate ploy to
    test how the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) would react to a large-scale military
    exercise on its doorstep.

    And lest Singapore's defence planners missed the message, the airdrop was
    codenamed Pukul Habis (Malay for 'Total Wipeout'). It was also executed with
    unprecedented proximity to Singapore on Aug 9 - Singapore's National Day.


    SINGAPORE responded by launching an Open Mobilisation Exercise at 5.30 pm on
    National Day eve. In those pre-Internet days, the exercise was widely
    publicised on Singapore's television and radio news on Aug 8 and received Page
    One treatment in local newspapers on Aug 9 - the day on which the Pukul Habis
    airdrop took place.

    Fast forward to Sunday, Jan 26, 2003. The SAF conducts its second Open Mobex
    for 2003. This was barely a fortnight after the year's first Open Mobex on Jan

    Since Singapore's first Open Mobex was held on July 8, 1985, there have been
    only two instances when Mindef held such exercises twice in the same month - in
    June 1987 and in May 1988.

    The latest mobilisation was notable as it was held one day after Foreign
    Minister S. Jayakumar made his landmark parliamentary speech on
    Singapore-Malaysia relations.

    The drill also coincided with Malaysia's apparent bid that same weekend to hike
    up military activity in Johor. After weeks of provocative talk, the Malaysians
    used a Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) career expo in Johor to display some of the
    MAF's firepower.

    The SAF rarely mobilises troops on a Sunday. And when it accords full media
    coverage for the exercise, one can sense that Singapore's Ministry of Defence
    (Mindef) wants its deterrent message heard loud and clear.

    The Open Mobex publicity, when augmented with moves to quietly enhance the
    SAF's defence readiness, represents a carefully-controlled, measured approach
    to warn outsiders of Singapore's readiness to deal with military

    Singapore cannot allow itself to be desensitised to bellicose talk or hyped-up
    military activity close to its border. If it chooses not to respond to such
    unneighbourly activity, Singapore risks sending a signal that war-like remarks
    will be tolerated - or worse, that the city-state has been cowed into silence -
    everytime the tone of language used breaches accepted behaviour among erstwhile

  5. Monday 27 January 2003

    Malaysia has denied it had threatened war with neighbouring Singapore over a series of disputes, dismissing complaints by the island-state's foreign minister.

    "Malaysia has never talked about war. We have never said that we would go to war," said Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar.

    "In a conflict situation, we would like to negotiate, and if we cannot agree, we refer it to a third party. That's always been our approach. We have no intention of declaring war with anybody."

    However, he said, "we are always talking about defending our rights and sovereignty".

    Singapore on Saturday denounced "loose talk of war" by politicians and the media in Malaysia over a series of bilateral disputes, calling it irresponsible and dangerous.

    Singapore's Foreign Minister S Jayakumar cited a statement by Syed Hamid who was quoted by the official Bernama news agency on December 31 as saying that Singapore has only two choices -- compromise or go to war.

    He also said that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, in his New Year's Day message, had warned that Kuala Lumpur would give a "bloody nose" to any country that violated its sovereignty.

    Jayakumar noted that Malaysian navy and police vessels had increased their "intrusions" into Singapore territorial waters off the disputed island of Pedra Branca, which Malaysia calls Batu Puteh, over the past month. The two countries have agreed to refer that dispute to the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

    Another irritant is the price of water supplied by Malaysia to the resource-starved island, and Syed Hamid denounced Singapore's publication of letters on the subject from Mahathir to former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

    "What are they trying to prove? I think that is lack of good faith. These letters can be published when writing memoirs or something like that," Syed Hamid said, adding that the move seemed to mean Singapore had no intention of finding a solution to the dispute.

  6. Ah Boys to Men, Please refer to Tim Huxley's assessment of Singapore NS in 2011:
    Huxley said he also had not anticipated the controversy behind society support vis-à-vis the rising foreign population. He believes a fundamental reassessment is needed to re-establish and re-brand National Service.

    In the question-and-answer session, Huxley also noted the fine balance of the need to elucidate the potential for contemporary threat without provoking it. Comparing Singapore’s geopolitical predicament to Israel, he pointed out difference in the latter being hemmed in by actual threat.


    1. Singapore has NO ACTUAL THREAT.
    2. FUNDAMENTAL RE-ASSESSMENT is needed for National Service


    1. Then can you, in your own words, explain why a large-scale Open Mobilizations of 1991 and 2003 following provocations by Malaysia and Indonesia?

    2. Dear Ah Boys to Men
      First, your grammar is wrong, your question should be, "Then can you, in your own words, explain why THERE WERE large-scale Open Mobilizations HELD IN 1991 and 2003 AFTER provocations WERE MADE by Malaysia and Indonesia?"

      Second, my answer to your question of why Open Mobilisation was held in 1991 and 2003 is this: because the military leaders in Singapore decided that Open Mobilisation should be held.

      Third, as a follow-up response to your question:

      1. Just because the SAF leaders of singapore decided for Open Mobex in response to provocation by MAL and INDON DOES NOT mean that it was a good idea for Open Mobex to be held. It was probably an over-reaction.

      2. Just because the current government decided that National Service is compulsory for 12 years (2 years + 10 years reservist) DOES NOT mean that it is a good idea to have National Service for 12 years. It is probably a bad idea. It is better to abolish it, shorten it, or make it voluntary.

      3. Just because there are threats from neighbouring countries does NOT mean there needs to be conscription. Switzerland is surrounded by countries with huge armies, China has many ACTUAL border wars, India also always has ACTUAL wars, USA fights wars every year, and they have NO conscription. Many other small island countries do not have conscription as well.

    3. Hi Author,

      I strongly disagreed fully with your views.

      I hope you can be voted in parliament to abolish NS, only lawmakers in Parliament have to right to abolish NS. You only can make noise here. But in reality, NS still continue, perhaps even you die, NS is still on in Singapore.

      What can you do?
      Be voted into political office to abolish...


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