Countries with(out) mandatory military service?

In my travels, I’ve met people from all over the world who either have themselves or have brothers who have had to serve out a mandatory military service of about two years (that seems to be the norm). I’m wondering what countries have mandatory military service.

It seems that most Asian countries have service requirements. How about Europe and South America?

Also, I’d like to know if around the world this sort of service is the norm on a country to country basis or if volunteer armies are the norm.

Also, which countries are the most strict about military service. For instance, my girlfriend says that in Taiwan you can get out of the service if you’re studying, though in South Korea, according to another good friend of ours, there’s almost no way out (aside from being in a rich family and buying your way out).

There is no mandatory military service. “National Service” ceased in 1960. I am glad to say that I was just one year too young to have to “participate”

I meant to add “in the UK”

The United States has no mandatory military service, but all males are required to register with Selective Service on or around their 18th birthdays so that if Congress does reinstate a draft there will be a pool of names upon hich to draw.

Wikipedia link.

Panama, Costa Rica, and Haiti officially have no military at all, per their Constitutions. (There are police and other security forces.)

Japan does not. In fact, there is a common belief amongst Japanese that members of the Self Defence Forces are technically civilians (despite the currently proposed revisions to the Constitution in which the SDF are described as military), and that therefore a member of the SDF can resign at any time. I don’t know for sure if that’s true.

I think you’ll find that those people doing National Service in 1960 must have been deferred- possibly by being in an apprenticeship.

France however still had conscription until the 1990s at least. I know of one Frenchman who spent a good few years in Britain hoping that conscription would end in France, but he couldn’t last out - he had to go home in the end and do his time.

According to my research National Service “call ups” ended in 1960 and the last National Serviceman left in 1963. I was 18 in January 1962. So I actually missed it by two years.

That strikes me as strange. You’d think Uncle Sam would already know who the eligible males are, based on tax or social security records, or something.
Australia doesn’t have any sort of draft. We have had conscription during wartime, although for WWI and WWII, it was still the era of white feathers and all, so cultural expectation was that you’d volunteer regardless, even to the point of overstating your age if you were too young to enlist. That all changed with Vietnam, of course.

There was also peacetime “national service” at on point, and you still hear old guys grumbling about how we “should still bloody have it” whenever they see graffiti tags or kids drinking in the park. They might have a point.

As well as our regular armed forces, we also have the Army Reserve, which is comprised of part-time soldiers who hold down regular civilian jobs. These are volunteers.

FWIW Costa Rica does not even have amilitary…dissolved it in 1948 or 49…

Israel, of course, does. Some ultra-religious groups are exempt, mostly because accomodating their various religious requirements would be too hard to do within the IDF. I think you have to do 2 years of active service, after which you are in the reserves until you’re in your mid-40s (at least).

Military service has become part of Israeli society. Very few boys or girls want to skip it, since it’s commonly viewed as your entry into mainstream adult Israeli society.

I have a cousin, born in the US, who was considering emigration to Israel; he went and did his 2 years of military service just in preparation to be an Israeli citizen! That’s how important it is in Israel.

Many European countries still have it, but in many of those countries you have some options. For example, a friend of mine decided that rather than just do his two years of service in the Royal Netherlands Army, he’d get some more interesting experience. He opted to go into special operations training, roughly a Dutch equivalent to US SEALS/Marines/Rangers training. It took him four years, but he thinks it was a lot more fun than walking back and forth with a rifle for two years.

Robert Heinlein, in Starship Troopers, proposed the idea of mandatory “Federal Service” for anyone wanting to become a “citizen” of his hypothetical future world government. This has often been equated to proposing mandatory military service, but he did make it somewhat vague and then backpedaled later on.

Speaking of Israel; do any other countries conscript women? I know the UK & USSR did during WWII. Do Swedish women have to serve in the military; I remember something about Crown Princess Victoria joining the army?

The Roman Empire allowed non-citizens to gain citizenship through military service.

I think you missed it by more than that. I was born in 1940 and wasn’t called up.

Was you in hiding ? :slight_smile: Because all the information I have seen says that every male was eligable for National Service at age 18, and this did not end till 1960.

I was expecting it and was actually looking forward to it. Decent jobs were hard to come by in my area and I wanted to retrain.
I discovered that they had virtually stopped call ups 3 months before I was due and were relying on those people who had been deferred to fill the spaces. Eventually I lost my job and enlisted, and found that all those people called up and in training with me were people who had managed to get deferred while they were training in their chosen profession.