Switzerland considers rare step on conscription — Analysis

The Swiss government is trying prevent a substantial decrease in the size its armed forces

Military service may become mandatory for women in Switzerland due to a shortage of army personnel, the country’s ATS news agency reported on Wednesday. Female volunteers currently make up less that 1% of Switzerland’s Army. But, it is expected that the total number of troops will decrease over time. 

The Swiss government has submitted a report on the shortage of personnel in its armed forces and in civil protection to the national parliament’s upper chamber, according to the ATS. Two options have been suggested by ministers to resolve the problem. 

“The first is to make service compulsory for Swiss women, which would make it possible to double the numbers,”This is the text of the article. 

According to the Swiss government, this idea came from Norway which in 2013 introduced gender-neutral conscription. 

The Federal Council also offers another option: a merger between civil service and civil protector into one new entity, which will deal with “disaster protection.”As it happens now, this would mean that women are recruited in a voluntary manner. It is suggested by the government that the Army would continue to have preference over the new organisation in terms of recruiting. 

NATO country eyes U-turn on mandatory military service

Swiss Army regulations have 100,000 soldiers. All able-bodied Swiss men must serve military duty starting at age 19.

According to Senator Werner Salzmann (who was quoted by ATS), only 80% can be called into duty during a mobilization. SwissInfo news outlet also previously reported that, by 2030, the country’s army is likely to decrease to just 30,000 people, while currently the armed forces list 140,000 personnel. According to the Swiss Defense Ministry, it had been discussing other options. “to secure the personnel of the armed forces and civil protection in the long term.” 

Switzerland is still a neutral country and the Swiss Armed Forces remain responsible for its homeland defense. Although they are not involved in any international conflict, they participate in peacekeeping missions. The Swiss military was a supporter of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Bosnia and Herzegovina in past. A small number of Swiss soldiers participated in the peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan. The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission monitors the armistice between North Korea and South Korea.

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