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Conscription


Monte Carlo

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My country hasn't had compulsory military service since the early 1960's ("National Service"). People who did it naturally have mixed feelings (my father, for example, hated it but claims it was the making of him) and the operational benefits to the regular army towards the end of the scheme seemed, to be blunt, negligible. Western European governments seem to be dumping conscription for small professional armies (when people are disdainful of regular soldiers I remined them that the alternative is conscription, one of the many reasons I am grateful to veterans).

 

My question stems from a an oft-heard barroom phrase - "Bring back National Service!" How many forumites here have undertaken compulsory military service? What did you think of it? Was it a waste of time? Did you feel any benefit from it and have your views changed as you've aged?

 

For the others here, what would you do if your country introduced compulsory military service for 18-20 year olds? Would you go to prison rather than serve? For the purposes of my question, imagine your country is not at war and the service was not necessarily combat arm / operational (my view is that modern conscript armies would be a hindrance on the battlefield, including rear echelon roles).

 

Cheers in advance,

 

MC

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It remains compulsory in South Korea, and pretty much by now a well-accepted 'rite of passage' for young men. i.e. it's where you learn to live a disciplined life, appreciate what you have, and get some good hard physical training in. Additionally it primes you for social / work life as an adult afterwards as it hooks you up with a lot of useful connections, you learn how to obey orders and be part of a well oiled machine (and to work it for your own benefit). It's generally understood that the army makes boys men and as long as it's a necessary evil (through, y'know, North Korea), it's not so bad.

 

Of course, these views are beginning to slowly change these days, as you might expect. Military service is also getting shorter and shorter, the physical training and discipline not as iron-clad and a wider range of options available for reduced service (i.e. ones where you commute as opposed to being removed from civilisation for ~18 months).

 

Got out of it myself as I'm a NZ citizen, not sure what I would have done otherwise, as I'm your typical humanities man, can't survive on regular schedules or getting up before the sun, reasonably fit and healthy but not one for man-muscle pumping. I expect I would have accepted my fate in the face of no reasonable alternatives, have a very **** time and make it out alive.

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I do think that the discipline is needed in our youth, conscripting should not just be limited to men nor limited to military service. Both military or civil service of some form should be at a mandatory 2 year term.

"Your Job is not to die for your country, but set a man on fire, and take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."

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When I did my military service, it didn't gave me discipline neither was the making of me. Probably because Cuba's military service; while necessary, is pointless. Basically, it is a lot of drills and preparations and it can't make soldiers out most of them.

I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

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Sweden only stopped (for financial reasons) using mandatory military service a few years ago, although escaping it had been quite easy for a couple of years before then. I didnt have to do it because Im born late in the year and all the slots had already been filled. I also have some 'issues with authority' ;)

 

 

I dont think its a good idea though, soldiers probably need a great deal of motivation and you dont get that if you force people into the military.

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Sweden only stopped (for financial reasons) using mandatory military service a few years ago, although escaping it had been quite easy for a couple of years before then. I didnt have to do it because Im born late in the year and all the slots had already been filled. I also have some 'issues with authority' ;)

 

 

I dont think its a good idea though, soldiers probably need a great deal of motivation and you dont get that if you force people into the military.

 

I have issues with authority and I made it through. Though I almost got a Section 8 out of the deal...

"Your Job is not to die for your country, but set a man on fire, and take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."

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Been there, done that.

 

 

Maybe i post more later.

"Some men see things as they are and say why?"
"I dream things that never were and say why not?"
- George Bernard Shaw

"Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

 

"The amount of energy necessary to refute bull**** is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it."

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I think if done a certain way it would be acceptible. If you have both a professional army, and compulsory military training. So that in the case of a defensive war your country's citizens are trained to repel invaders that would be acceptible. But compulsory service and being shipped out on operations and such during the compulsory service, no thanks.

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Conscription is unjust, yet all we get if we choose to hire a professional army are these gun-loving goons. Those are about the least suited to do peace-keeping missions in foreign countries. It is a mess either way. I think the best for most western countries today is a compromise between the two.

"Well, overkill is my middle name. And my last name. And all of my other names as well!"

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Been there done that, hated pretty much every moment there until I got ejected due to a fracture in my leg. Finished the service with civil service as I didn't feel like going back to military service at the age of 25...

 

In Finland you can actually choose between military and civil service and if you "want" you can always go to jail as well. Military service lasts from 6 to 12 months while civil service is 11 months (1 month at the civil service center and 10 months doing something, in my case worked at the local university).

 

While they claim military service is rite of passage to manhood I don't think I learned anything that I couldn't have learned elsewhere. Learning how to make my bed, clean, start a fire (with matches) or ski are all things I knew (and pretty much everyone should know at the age of 19). Mostly the thing I learned in the army was how idiotic pretty much half of unit was and how to get along with people who I normally wouldn't care to talk to. For example a career criminal with loads of convictions for theft, robberies etc. Sure there were some good people as well, the original group of about 7 people we had in the same room was awesome.

 

To summarize my time in the army: absolute waste of time. Made me slack more, lie more (easier to get out of things), lost a huge amount of respect towards doctors. I complained 2

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Where is LoF, I demand his opinion on this!

"Alright, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade - make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don't want your damn lemons, what am I supposed to do with these? Demand to see life's manager. Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons. Do you know who I am? I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down! With the lemons. I'm going to to get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!"

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Where is LoF, I demand his opinion on this!

 

I think it's pretty obvious what the socialist stance on conscription is: the workers get sent off by the rich and the aristocracy to die for a war that's fought to fuel commercial interests.

 

I'm sure he'd put it more... eloquently.

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Interesting question, Monte, given how often one hears it as a supposed solution. My answer is two part.

 

1) As you say, conscripted soldiers are rubbish, pound for pound.

 

2) Having compulsory service where harsh reality is faced is something I support. I just think it should be something more relevant to society in general, like construction or coal mining.

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Anything forced is bad. Anything forced that can lead to death or serious injury is even worse.

 

I know I couldn't make military service. That having been said, I have some pretty craptacular genetic health problems (flat-footed, ****-*** eyes, and a thyroid that refuses to work) that would probably exempt me from any drafting.

 

EDIT: Yeah, where is LoF? I originally thought this would be his thread...

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Ok, time for a better update.

 

I did my time in the finnish armed forces roughly 10 years ago at the coastal battalion brigade. My superiors wanted to enlist me into the Officer Cadet school, thus lengthening my experience by another 6 months. But thanks to my pollen allergy, i had to politely decline due to no one will obey an officer that is constantly sneezing during summer time. They agreed (phew!). I had my own personal assault-rifle, and got to fire machineguns and bazookas with live ammo as well.

 

In retrospect, it was a fun experience, but while you were there, you really did't enjoy it one bit. The army is not a rite of passage to manhood, and i did not learn how to respect authority either. Rather, i learned that you can cheat the system for your own benefit and how imposed authority often makes ordinary people into complete douchebags. What i did learn however, was that:

 

- The physical strain that your body can be accustomed to is much more that you think. By the end of my time in service, i could run 10 km without breaking any sweat. I had gained 10kgs in back muscle alone. I could be awake for 40+ hours with full equipment and be on the constant move. I could live on cabbage for three days straigth without feeling any weaker. I could walk 60km with full backpack in one day.

 

- The mental strain that your mind can take is much higher than you might think. You learn what apathy truly is, you learn that no matter how bad you feel on the inside, the outside world is not there for you. You will learn on how to deal with your mental state, you will get to know yourself much better. You will learn to appriciate the smaller things in life. Like smells, or a good view, and how to make the best out of them.

 

- You will learn what working as team really means. The social bonding that you experience with your comrades is unparallaled. You mess up, the whole company gets the blame. If you cheat, you make damn sure that no one will be involved, even if it was involuntarily.

 

So in conclusion, my pros and cons with having a conscription is:

 

Pros:

 

- It unites the people of your nation. There is no "US vs Them" in terms of real patriots that have joined the army and those that have not. It levels out the armed forces from becoming an elite group of people that have a hard-on for war and weapons.

 

- It also works as a great social contract. People who will most likely never meet, not to mention talk to each other, will have to work with each other. This will decrease the rifts between different groups of society.

 

- The leaders of the nation will not have aggressive, expansionistic policies since no one wants to send their sons and daughters to war unless they really have to. This notion is only appliable if you live in a very free and open society, like a democracy. Totalitarian governments couldn't care less about their people.

 

Cons:

 

- It is not true freedom of choice. Each individual should develop themselves as they see fit. The will to give your life for your country should be mandated by the individuals themselves, not by the leaders of the their country that wishes to play a game of realpolitik.

 

- Instead of a highly effecient, better equipped army with a tremendous morale, you will have to deal with an army of every damn fool that you know. The equipment will be cheap and less high-tech, and most soldiers do not have the strength to kill when they really have to.

 

- The tremendous cost on society. Being ready to arm each and everyone over the age 18 will bring quite a huge burden on the national budget, and consequently its citizens.

"Some men see things as they are and say why?"
"I dream things that never were and say why not?"
- George Bernard Shaw

"Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

 

"The amount of energy necessary to refute bull**** is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it."

- Some guy 

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Small country's with lowish populations surrounded by neighbours who are/have been aggressive. I can understand conscription in relation to that.

 

Doesn't make it right naturally, but I can understand why.

 

I don't think the way the American military deals with it is much better.

 

"You poor?"

 

"Yes"

 

"Want to go to College?"

 

"Yes"

 

"Well now you can, all you have to do it join up, oh there is a chance that you may get blow to tiny piece's but you can certainly go to college"

 

*sigh* being poor in America sucks.

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To everyone that says how the army is not a rite of passage for manhood, I must protest most strongly: learning how to work the system is one of the most important survival skills for the modern adult. I'm not joking. I see people that get boned all the time because they didn't play enough adventure games in their youth.

 

- The physical strain that your body can be accustomed to is much more that you think. By the end of my time in service, i could run 10 km without breaking any sweat. I had gained 10kgs in back muscle alone. I could be awake for 40+ hours with full equipment and be on the constant move. I could live on cabbage for three days straigth without feeling any weaker. I could walk 60km with full backpack in one day.

 

This is what I'm most envious of, actually. I'm not a pile of putrid fat or anything, but I genuinely think if I was forced to leave civilisation for a few months and just work on physical training my life would be better for it. But how long did that last, for you?

 

My thoughts on this are pretty hypocritical, I have to admit. In general I wouldn't endorse conscription, but considering that I wasn't too far away from having had to go to the army, I actually think something short, like 6 months, would probably be good for me for the pros that Meshugger suggested. We're forced to a lot of things in life as it is; being 'forced' doesn't automatically mean 'bad', that's a very limited way of thinking. But, uh, I'd probably fight tooth and nail to avoid going to the army, I'd hate it while I was there. :)

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I loved my 7.5 years in the military and it wholly changed my life for the better. Of course a professional armed force will be better trained and motivated then those that are conscripted but I would have no problem at all with a full draft if the need ever arose for my country.

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