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Old 21.08.2013, 07:50
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The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

Summer vacations over, kids back to school, traffic jams abound, it's almost time for fall and time to vote again. A game-changing initiative by Switzerland's anti-army group (GSoA) to abolish conscription is the subject of the September 22, 2013 referendum.

With only a few western European nations still having conscription (Austria, Finland and Norway), the argument is that Switzerland's militia system has served its purpose in protecting us from potential invaders and that it's time to move forwards into modern times with professional (voluntary) forces.

Here are GSoA's points.

The more conservative parties see Switzerland's militia system as an integral part of our foundation; as much as a part of our lives as mountains, cheese and cows grazing in Alpine meadows.

With Switzerland traditionally voting conservative when major issues are on the table, this initiative has little chance of being accepted, but if it did, it would revolutionize our society. The army would down size significantly and its professional replacement would resemble nothing like the structure in place today. Austria dismissed a similar plan for their nation just recently, a sentiment which will no doubt be mirrored here too.

More reading here

NZZ article

On the face of it, you'd expect a straight split between the conservatives and socialists, however, many on the right are also advocating a modernization of Switzerland's military role. Is the idea of conscription to also set young men on their way in life with useful skills, or is the state sponsoring weekend warrior thinking?

If you have the right to vote, which way will you go and why?
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Old 21.08.2013, 07:52
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

Keep it - how else will all these young men get the jobs which aren't generally advertised?
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Old 21.08.2013, 07:58
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

Personally, while it may or may not be unpopular with the youth, I think mandatory conscription is why the men seem so practical. All my colleagues can shoot and are familiar with a variety of weapons, know (at least basic) woodcraft, and seem more self-disciplined than the average bloke. Sure, there's a lot of standing around and smoking, but I think overall it seems like a good thing if it teaches you a few life skills that you may one day need.
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Old 21.08.2013, 08:13
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

Drop it. Talk to anyone that is doing it or has recently completed it and you'll find out why.

Although in truth it is more or less voluntary these days. Anyone that really wants out can usually find a way.
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Old 21.08.2013, 08:16
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

For all its quirkiness it should remain.

I love watching tourists' jaws drop as some kid in battle fatigues zips through the main station in Zurich on a skateboard with an assault rifle slung across his back.
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Old 21.08.2013, 08:16
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

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Although in truth it is more or less voluntary these days. Anyone that really wants out can usually find a way.
Which was the case for a good two decades, if not longer... but people love a good whinge.. (but do not, I mean DO NOT mention the military in any talk, they won't stop talking about it, no matter how "bad" it was.. )
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Old 21.08.2013, 08:18
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

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Drop it. Talk to anyone that is doing it or has recently completed it and you'll find out why.

Although in truth it is more or less voluntary these days. Anyone that really wants out can usually find a way.
But doesn't that leave you saddled with a lifelong bill of some silly % of your salary?

I'm sure (or at least it used to be the way) that if you wormed out of the army, even if you had flat feet or were certified bonkers, you had to pay an extra tax.
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Old 21.08.2013, 16:21
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

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But doesn't that leave you saddled with a lifelong bill of some silly % of your salary?

I'm sure (or at least it used to be the way) that if you wormed out of the army, even if you had flat feet or were certified bonkers, you had to pay an extra tax.
I think up until only age 32 now. Max (again I think) 1.5% of salary.
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Old 21.08.2013, 17:48
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

Looking back I wish I'd had the opportunity to do something like that. Don't get me wrong, I probably wouldn't have been particularly enthusiastic about it at age 18-20, but I think it would have been an experience definitely worth having. The guys at work that disappear off for 3 weeks every year to do it don't seem to mind, in fact I think they rather enjoy it, even if it does involve being locked in a bunker somewhere.
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Old 21.08.2013, 17:55
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

I'll be voting to drop it, though only because it would remain as a more professional institution.

In current form it's glorified kindergarten with guns, at best. Hardly anything worthy of even being called an army.
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Old 21.08.2013, 18:20
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

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Looking back I wish I'd had the opportunity to do something like that. Don't get me wrong, I probably wouldn't have been particularly enthusiastic about it at age 18-20, but I think it would have been an experience definitely worth having. The guys at work that disappear off for 3 weeks every year to do it don't seem to mind, in fact I think they rather enjoy it, even if it does involve being locked in a bunker somewhere.
Ditto, would probably have done me some good. Mind you, so would have growing up in Switzerland full stop.

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I'll be voting to drop it, though only because it would remain as a more professional institution.

In current form it's glorified kindergarten with guns, at best. Hardly anything worthy of even being called an army.
It would have about as much worth as if Switzerland made a real standing army, it would be too small to have any real impact and is basically unnecessary anyhow considering Switzerlands neutral stance with just about everyone in the world.
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Old 21.08.2013, 18:27
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

I joined the British RAF straight from school and the first 5 years were super, but the last 4 dragged on a bit...!

I would definitely scrap the Swiss Army, anybody looking at the situation can see it is a complete waste of time and money: they are still fighting WW2 but today with better weapons.

What I would like is for everyone, including 'B' & 'C' permit holders, to complete a 12 month course on defence against natural catastrophes, supporting the fire services and supporting the police with an armed militia. The cantonal police should also be converted to a national police force.

The course should be done in one lump between 18 years and 25 years of age, the "Conscript" being able to choose when, so his education & career do not suffer too much.
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Old 21.08.2013, 19:05
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

We have an army recruit barracks in our town of Liestal, so throughout the year the town is crawling with young recruits. They are all impeccably behaved and out and about in the town centre till the wee hours so it always feels safe.



I'd be sad to see them go, I certainly think there are a lot of young Brits who would benefit from a spell in the army. And I don't mean it in a Daily Mail-esq ranty way, its just such a good way to instil a little discipline, selflessness, camaraderie, nationhood and gain some of the practical and transferable skills that will help you in later life.
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Old 22.08.2013, 14:12
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

I kind of support Sbrinz on that matter. I know what I will vote but I wasn’t sure before as one of the main issue is that the army became already a volunteer force (you can easily avoid serving if you wish too and you are smart enough). So why not forcing the army to accept this reality and reform itself. However it is quite clear that the old guard has no wish to adapt and accept that our best defense is through international cooperation. The Group for a Switzerland without an army doesn’t want any reform, they want the army to be disbanded, it is their name. The threat on Switzerland is not anymore the Red Hordes of Mechanized Death as we were trained to contain but a nebula if various kinds of threats the average infantryman(woman) is not equipped/train to address. The military technology of today means that a part-time soldier can’t be properly trained on to use a high-tech antitank missile launcher, let alone a state-of-the-art armored combat vehicle. Cyber space, vulnerable infrastructures and stability won’t be saved by this http://www.vbs.admin.ch/internet/vbs...ng/110722.html (granted they can come in handy when we have natural disasters).

Concerning conscription army versus volunteer army, I will always refer to a discussion I had in Kosovo with a French Senior NCO about the abandonment of the conscription by his army. He said most of the conscripts weren’t really highly motivated but the average soldier was better educated and skilled than a person joining because of the lack of option. Some actually discovered they were good at soldiering even if they never considered a military career before their compulsory service. With an all volunteer force you end up selecting between whoever end up pushing the door of a recruiting station. Even Germany has hard time to fill up all the available slots.

I would rather oblige every Swiss citizen (female and male) to serve 3 months according their abilities as federal cadet, it could also be opened to foreigners (especially if they wish to ask for citizenship). Sport, march and health hygiene would take a large amount of time. You could also refresh civism education and present the various options to serve the remaining of your duty time (military, civil protection, fire brigade, civilian service, development aid etc…). People would be in better shape or at least know what they have to improve. They would leave their parent, for some the first time in their life, and get a small monthly stipend. I would segregate female and male at least the cantonment (I guess a lot of memories will stem from that) but ensure a good socio-economical diversity, including language wise. The staff would be provided by people serving their remaining duty time. OK I know it is not really feasible especially because we would need a hell of a lot of barracks and staff but I think it would allow people to have a break from the very individualistic and isolated life they live, at least some of them. Kind of a huge Scout camp, like with the current Recruit School but without the tanks and guns. Oh also food should be awful for the sake of the tradition
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Old 22.08.2013, 16:29
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

I am still not sure where I stand yet. But I did find it funny how one pro-Army politician was saying that if we remove obligatory conscription we'll end up with an army of "uneducated Rambos and violent thugs", or something along those lines. Which made me think: Isn't that as much an argument against, the institution being of such a nature that it attracts these people?

I'd argue the stakes for the actions of politicians are even more serious, and we all know that the percentage of politicians who are nothing more than egomaniacs too ugly for show-business is depressingly high. But we don't force people into politics to balance things out.

Hey, there's an idea...
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Old 22.08.2013, 16:39
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

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Drop it. Talk to anyone that is doing it or has recently completed it and you'll find out why.

Although in truth it is more or less voluntary these days. Anyone that really wants out can usually find a way.
No, it is not voluntary in these days. And to find a way out is difficult and for most practically impossible.

And that men up to the age of 30plus are absent each year for three weeks and those of 30 to 40plus each second year for a week is quite expensive for the economy, Many companies will rather employ a foreigner than a CH national of 20 to 30 for that reason.
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Old 22.08.2013, 16:41
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

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Looking back I wish I'd had the opportunity to do something like that. Don't get me wrong, I probably wouldn't have been particularly enthusiastic about it at age 18-20, but I think it would have been an experience definitely worth having. The guys at work that disappear off for 3 weeks every year to do it don't seem to mind, in fact I think they rather enjoy it, even if it does involve being locked in a bunker somewhere.
No, most do not enjoy it at all, but most try to take it with humour, as it is a duty to be carried through.
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Old 22.08.2013, 16:43
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

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For all its quirkiness it should remain.

I love watching tourists' jaws drop as some kid in battle fatigues zips through the main station in Zurich on a skateboard with an assault rifle slung across his back.
Alright, but pleeeease, people between 20 and 42 years of age are NOT "kids"
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Old 22.08.2013, 17:06
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

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Alright, but pleeeease, people between 20 and 42 years of age are NOT "kids"
Depends where you come from and your vernacular.
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Old 22.08.2013, 18:13
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Re: The end of Army conscription? Referendum September 22, 2013

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I kind of support Sbrinz on that matter. I know what I will vote but I wasn’t sure before as one of the main issue is that the army became already a volunteer force (you can easily avoid serving if you wish too and you are smart enough). So why not forcing the army to accept this reality and reform itself. However it is quite clear that the old guard has no wish to adapt and accept that our best defense is through international cooperation. The Group for a Switzerland without an army doesn’t want any reform, they want the army to be disbanded, it is their name. The threat on Switzerland is not anymore the Red Hordes of Mechanized Death as we were trained to contain but a nebula if various kinds of threats the average infantryman(woman) is not equipped/train to address. The military technology of today means that a part-time soldier can’t be properly trained on to use a high-tech antitank missile launcher, let alone a state-of-the-art armored combat vehicle. Cyber space, vulnerable infrastructures and stability won’t be saved by this http://www.vbs.admin.ch/internet/vbs...ng/110722.html (granted they can come in handy when we have natural disasters).

Concerning conscription army versus volunteer army, I will always refer to a discussion I had in Kosovo with a French Senior NCO about the abandonment of the conscription by his army. He said most of the conscripts weren’t really highly motivated but the average soldier was better educated and skilled than a person joining because of the lack of option. Some actually discovered they were good at soldiering even if they never considered a military career before their compulsory service. With an all volunteer force you end up selecting between whoever end up pushing the door of a recruiting station. Even Germany has hard time to fill up all the available slots.

I would rather oblige every Swiss citizen (female and male) to serve 3 months according their abilities as federal cadet, it could also be opened to foreigners (especially if they wish to ask for citizenship). Sport, march and health hygiene would take a large amount of time. You could also refresh civism education and present the various options to serve the remaining of your duty time (military, civil protection, fire brigade, civilian service, development aid etc…). People would be in better shape or at least know what they have to improve. They would leave their parent, for some the first time in their life, and get a small monthly stipend. I would segregate female and male at least the cantonment (I guess a lot of memories will stem from that) but ensure a good socio-economical diversity, including language wise. The staff would be provided by people serving their remaining duty time. OK I know it is not really feasible especially because we would need a hell of a lot of barracks and staff but I think it would allow people to have a break from the very individualistic and isolated life they live, at least some of them. Kind of a huge Scout camp, like with the current Recruit School but without the tanks and guns. Oh also food should be awful for the sake of the tradition
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