According to a report presented by a parliamentary commission to the Council of States – the Swiss Federal Assembly’s upper chamber – only 80 percent of soldiers out of the 100,000-strong Swiss Armed Forces can be called to active duty. This equated to about 80,000 troops in the field.
The report put forward two alternatives to address the issue and increase the size of the armed forces.
First, it proposed a merger between the Swiss Armed Forces and civil protection services. Second, it proposed making military service compulsory for able-bodied Swiss women aged 19 years and up.
While military service is optional for women in the landlocked European nation, it may become mandatory given the situation in Ukraine. The proposal is also timely given the massive mobilization order and nuclear threats issued by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Moreover, a news outlet warned that the Swiss Armed Forces could see its numbers plunge to as low as 30,000 by the year 2030 if nothing is done to boost the number.
Swiss Defense Minister Viola Amherd, the first female in the position, said she wants to increase the percentage of women in the armed forces from one percent to 10 percent by 2030. In line with this, the Swiss military launched an ad campaign with the tagline “security is also female” to attract women into the service.
SwissInfo also noted that countries in Europe with conscription for both men and women – Sweden and Norway – regularly get top marks for gender equality in international rankings, but whether or not Switzerland is ready to adopt gender-neutral conscription remains to be seen.
Evolving public opinion on compulsory military service
Swiss public opinion regarding gender-neutral compulsory military service has also evolved over the years, especially as gender and inclusion gained more traction. The views of Swiss citizens reflected the prevailing mood in the country. (Related: Americans are refusing to join the military despite generous enlistment incentives.)
One respondent said it is a great idea to enlist women in military service. “To be truly equal, women should do the same jobs as men,” the respondent said.
Another said: “By having equal conscription obligations, women can hugely contribute to the defense of Switzerland.”
This is an evolving opinion from Switzerland’s residents. When the CSS first asked respondents this question in 2011, only 52 percent agreed that both men and women should perform some sort of compulsory service, be it army, civilian service or social service.
Conscription is no longer the norm in Europe, with countries such as Germany and Serbia casting their draft systems into the bin. Project leader for the CSS Security Survey, Thomas Ferst, said the traditional conscript armies lost their importance after the end of the Cold War. As part of a defense alliance, NATO countries in particular no longer saw the need to keep large standing armies.
The need for military service was also being questioned in Switzerland, especially as there had been popular initiatives to abolish conscription. Ultimately, however, 73 percent of voters rejected the initiative in 2013 and a government-commissioned study published a year later confirmed there was no reason to change the status quo.
With drafting set to stay, the idea of including women in compulsory service has gained traction, especially when Norway introduced gender-neutral conscription in 2015, followed by Sweden a few years later.
Switzerland continues to declare itself as a neutral country, with the Swiss Armed Forces mainly responsible for homeland defense. They do not participate in international conflicts but take part in peacekeeping missions.
In the past, the Swiss military has provided support for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Bosnia and Herzegovina and a few dozen soldiers also took part in a peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan.
It also participated in the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, which monitors the armistice between North and South Korea.
Watch Russia’s threats of nuclear war below, which could play a key role in military conscription all across Europe.
This video is from Cynthia’s Pursuit of Truth channel on Brighteon.com.
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