Conscripts protest in bid to join army

Would-be conscripts to the Swedish army have inundated the National Service Administration with protests after they were told that no regiment could take them. Now, around a hundred conscripts have had their protests rewarded with a place in the army.

Conscripts protest in bid to join army
Photo: Combat Camera - Försvarets Bildbyrå

The 614 young men and women were told in July that, contrary to expectations, they would no longer be called up to serve from January 2008. They were told by military chiefs that there were too few officers to command them. They were told that they could do another form of national service or skip it entirely.

Six out of ten of those who were turned down contacted the National Service Administration, demanding to be allowed to serve.

“First, I was upset. What was I going to do for a year,” asked one 19-year-old man who spoke to Svenska Dagbladet.

“I hadn’t applied for university. I called wrote letters and sent emails. Now I’ve been told I can do national service,” he said.

The National Service Administration has criticized the armed forces for a decision that left individuals in the lurch. Now, around 100 have found a new placing and 160 who have applied for a new place are waiting for a response. This is set to delay call-ups to another 6,000 would-be soldiers. These will now be sent out at the end of August.

All young, healthy Swedish men are theoretically obliged to serve in the armed forces. In practice, only 15 percent of men are ever called up, and it is unusual for those who do not wish to serve to be asked to do so. Women can, if they wish, undertake a period of national service.