May 01, 2004

Shipping Out

The spring draft has begun. Between now and the end of June, some 166,000 young Russian men will have been drafted into the army for a two-year stint.

While Russia has no plan to abolish the draft, it has been professionalizing various units, to mixed success. Meanwhile, in Western Europe, aside from Germany and the Scandinavian countries, the trend away from conscription is clear. Spain, Belgium and France have all gone to a professional army; Italy will have one by 2006, and Austria and Greece are both seriously debating the move; Britain has not had conscription since the 1950s. In Eastern Europe, conscription is still in place, yet there is dissent in the ranks: the Czech army will be professionalized next year.


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