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Trivia: Conscription
Real world countries that have universal service or have a recent history of conscription include, in alphabetical order:
  • Australia — Sporadically during World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. Ended in 1972 and hasn't been re-introduced since.
  • Bermuda —
  • Brazil — Although most are dispensed due to quotas.
  • Egypt — With a bewildering array of caveats and exceptions. You see, men get conscripted as privates in the Army or police at 18 for one year, unless they're the only adult son (not only child, only son) in the family during the period of his eligibility, in which case they are exempted from conscription entirely. You might also be exempted entirely if the government judges that your family depends on you for income. If you're an illiterate or otherwise barely-educated peasant and not exempt, however, you could instead get conscripted into the paramilitary Central Security Forces for three years. If you live in a coastal city, you might get conscripted into the Navy. If you go to college your conscription is always delayed, in which case you get conscripted as a private in the Army or police, or seaman in the Navy if you're from the coast (but not the Central Security Forces—again, that's for illiterate peasants), for a year after you graduate. That is, unless you graduated as a doctor, dentist, or engineer, in which case you get conscripted as an officer for three years in order to practice your profession in the military (although doctors and dentists need to complete their civilian internship/residency first). Also, anyone might be excused from service if the armed forces decide they don't need more people (there are 80+ million Egyptians, most of them young; we don't need that big of a military)—are you getting the drift?
  • Finland — A general draft of males over 18 years old, women may serve as volunteers. Every able-bodied and sound-minded male is expected to serve on pain of prison sentence. Civilian service is available for conscientious objectors. Boys with criminal record, addictions (also internet addiction!) or mental disorders are usually expelled from service. Gays and transgendered are not excused from service. Some 85% of all men of the yearly cohort do serve their tour of duty, which is an unusually high number worldwise.
  • Germany (also West Germany and East Germany) — In abeyance since 2011. Prior to suspension the service could be carried out in civilian capacities; the Technisches Hilfswerk (Technical Assistance Corps) disaster-relief agency was a common destination (and a frequently-cited model for people wanting to introduce mandatory public service in other countries without conscription).
  • Hungary — Theoretically, it's still in effect, but the quota is set to 0 since 2002.
  • Iran
  • Israel — Notable for also drafting women. There is a major dispute between the secular and ultra-religious communities about the latter's requirements for military service.
  • Korea, both North and South — With soldiers having an encyclopedic knowledge of Tae Kwan Do as part of their training.
  • Norway
  • Poland — Abolished in 2009.
  • Russia in the modern world
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia - Abolished in 2006.
  • The Soviet Union — According to this, it was a disaster. (There's a story in there about Soviet Army troops trading their tank for as much vodka as they could carry.)
  • Sweden — Up until the 1st of July 2010.
  • Switzerland — This universal service is the basis of Swiss citizenship, and is the main reason every Swiss citizen is required to keep a rifle and ammunition in the house.
  • Taiwan — Also a disaster, and a surefire way to render some of the most expensive weapons in the world, purchased by Taiwan, largely uselessnote . On the bright side, it'll probably shorten any future war and and thereby minimize collateral damage and suffering. Women can become, and frequently are, officers, but not enlisted.
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine - Originally planned to be abolished in late 2013, but has been kept for the time being.
  • United Kingdom — From 1945 to about 1959, called "National Service."
  • United States — Which turned out to be a major factor in opposition to The Vietnam War, leading to an all-volunteer military. That last conscript war, for anti-drug enforcement, ended in catastrophe, with 1000 arrests per week in Vietnam alone. Ended in 1973, although Selective Service still asks men between 18 and 25 to register. Practically speaking, odds of the reinstatement of the draft in the US at any time in the foreseeable future are somewhere around asymptotic-zero.


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