Sweden wants more soldiers, but two out of three young men are not qualified for military service

Sweden wants more soldiers, but two out of three young men are not qualified for military service

CopenhagenSweden is looking for more recruits to rearm its armed forces. The Scandinavian country's entry into NATO last March was accompanied by a 28% increase in the defense budget for this year, thus complying with NATO requirements to allocate 2% of GDP. But as in other European countries, the main problem facing the Swedish forces is their lack of soldiers.

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In 2017, Sweden reintroduced compulsory military service (for both men and women) after abolishing it in 2010. But in practice, very few young Swedish men are called up for military service when they reach adulthood, because every year there are Sufficient young people willing to undertake basic military training that lasts from 6 to 15 months. Just in case not enough volunteers show up, a lottery is held to determine who should do the milling. In addition, young people can also declare themselves conscientious objectors and perform other civic duties.

However, the armed forces fear that in the coming years there will be problems recruiting enough young people to perform military service, especially now that it is planned to increase the number of recruits. This year, the Swedish Recruitment Agency increased the number of young people who will receive military training, requesting 8,000 places for the first time, compared to 5,000 previously. The government has already warned that up to 10,000 or more places could be announced in the coming years.

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However, the problem facing the Swedish Armed Forces is that more than half of eighteen-year-olds are excluded from joining the army, not because they are reluctant to serve, but because they are considered unfit from a medical point of view. Last year, of the nearly 107,000 young men who joined the military to have their physical and mental abilities evaluated, 64% (nearly two in three) were disqualified. Among women, the percentage of those excluded for medical reasons was 73%, while among boys it was 55%.

psychological diseases

Diagnoses that could prevent a young person from applying for military service are very diverse, from suffering from allergies, having severe eczema on the skin, being overweight, having asthma, or taking daily medications. However, they note from the employment agency that many young people are disabled due to mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety or attention deficit disorders. They realize from the recruitment office that the rate of returns is worrying, even though it has been an ongoing problem for years and has remained the same since 2020, before the tension of the war increased in the Scandinavian country due to the Russian threat.

When young people fill out the mandatory medical form sent to them by the military, they must prove they are sick if necessary, and risk committing a criminal offense if they do not tell the truth. But the Ministry of Defense rules out that the problem is that most young people are not sincere in avoiding conscription, even though they plan to increase checks and controls.

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Spokesman Andersen Helseth explained that these numbers “do not mean that two-thirds of young people are sick, as they can perform their functions well in daily life.” But, he added, “if you have to work in the context of war and you have an illness that requires treatment, the person will not be able to perform their jobs.” “We also do not want diseases and disorders to worsen during military service,” he added. In addition to illnesses, the recruitment agency also notes that it considers the mental performance of potential recruits, such as their ability to work in groups or receive instructions, and also takes into account physical fitness: “A person who never exercises may be excluded ‘for this reason,'” Helseth explained. .

These data have opened a debate in Sweden, which questions whether the requirements for joining the armed forces are too difficult when more than half of young people are not eligible to join them. In a newspaper editorial honest, The tabloid lamented: “If we are to rely on the answers on the employment form, illness is the new normal. This is of course not the case, but instead reflects that our young people have very high expectations and high personal standards.” Satisfaction and a problem-free existence.”

The same problem in the Danish army

In Denmark, the government recently announced its intention to increase the number of conscripts by extending military service from four to eleven months and making it compulsory for women for the first time. In this country, the conscription system is very similar to the Swedish system and faces the same problem: last year 56.6% of eighteen-year-old men were refused to join the army. According to the Danish employment system, the data is very alarming, because in 1995 the rejection rate due to illness was 30%.

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The Danish military is now trying to catch up after decades of budget cuts and a worrying shortage of soldiers, which has left one in four positions vacant due to understaffing.

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