National service could return to the UK. Which other countries have it and how does it work?

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun7,2024
The United Kingdom could bring in a compulsory national service for young men and women, if Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
South Korea, Sweden, Singapore, and Israel are among the many other countries that require people to serve in the armed forces.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the globe, like Australia, conscription is now a thing of the past.

What is the UK Conservatives’ national service proposal?

Sunak and the Conservative Party have unveiled plans for a mandatory national service scheme for young people turning 18 in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Under the proposal, teenagers would either complete a 12-month military training placement or volunteer in the community for one weekend every month.

The community service option requires 25 days to be completed in total, assisting organisations such as the National Health Service (NHS), fire service or search and rescue.

Unlike conscription, there would be no minimum serving time in the armed forces nor would there be penalties for refusing to comply.
The Conservatives claim the scheme will give young people “real world skills, while contributing to their country and community”.
The announcement has been met with criticism from political rivals.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey labelled it “nonsense”. Nigel Farage, the honorary president of the right wing Reform UK party, called the plan a “joke”.

It is estimated to cost $4.8 billion a year.

Which countries have national service?

More than 60 countries enforce mandatory military service, according to the World Population Review.
De Jure conscription, seen in the United States and China, is military service written into the law but not currently enforced or enacted.

Different conscription laws outline the minimum age at which citizens must serve, with some countries, like Ukraine, waiting for men to turn 25 before they can be called up.

Enlistment periods can also differ between genders. Israeli men serve at least 32 months in the Israel Defence Forces, while women are only required to serve two years.
Israelis remain reservists for more than two decades after their initial service is complete and can be called up for emergencies at any given time.

The UK is not the only country to reassess its conscription laws.

Earlier this month, the German defence minister tasked his ministry with exploring potential models for mandatory military service.

The country has grappled with shrinking troop numbers since it scrapped conscription in 2011.

When did Australia have national service?

Australia has had periods of mandatory military service, with young men first conscripted to fight overseas during World War One and World War Two.

In subsequent wars, such as the Korean War and Vietnam War, 287,000 Australian men were called up for compulsory training in the Navy, Army and Air Force.

The National Service schemes were enacted on and off, between 1951 and 1972, as part of Australia’s defence policy.

Australia has not had mandatory military service since 1972, following large anti-Vietnam War demonstrations.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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