Countries with Mandatory Military Service 2022

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Most nations in the world have some form of military. However, the methods used to fill the ranks of those armed forces vary from one country to the next. Primary methods of recruitment include the following:

  • Voluntary enlistment — Citizens choose the military as their employer and serve their country as their job or career. Widely regarded as the most preferable and socially responsible method of maintaining a military force.
  • Mandatory service — All males (and sometimes all females as well) of a certain age must serve their country for a minimum amount of time (usually 1-3 years). Typically employed by militaries with the greatest need or the most autocratic leaders.
  • Conscription/Draft — A variation on mandatory service in which everyone in a certain demographic group (typically males aged 18-35) must register as eligible for military service, but the possibility exists that they will not be called to active duty (referred to as being "drafted" or "conscripted"), particularly in times of peace.
  • Selective compulsory service — In many conscription systems, the selection of recruits is random or lottery-driven. In selective compulsory systems, however, candidates are deliberately chosen and called into service only to meet a particular area of need (for instance, medical personnel, mechanics, or pilots).
  • De Jure compulsory service — The least demanding form of compulsory service. Mandatory military service technically exists according to the law but is rarely (if ever) actually enforced. For example, the United States still requires all able-bodied males aged 18-25 to register with the Selective Service, meaning they could be drafted into military service if needed. However, so many voluntary recruits enlist that the draft has not been used since 1973 (during the Vietnam War). Similarly, males in China aged 18-22 must register for 24-month compulsory service, but enough volunteers exist that no “draft” of compulsory registrants has ever taken place.
  • Combinations — Many nations utilize multiple systems in tandem. The United States, for example, relies on voluntary enlistment but also has a de jure conscription system (the Selective Service) to fall back upon should the need arise.

Mandatory military service in the news

The United States has the highest defense spending budget of any country, despite the fact that fewer than 1% of its citizens actively serve in the military. Americans who were surprised to learn that the Selective Service still exists may take comfort in the knowledge that it appears on the verge of obsolescence. House resolution H.R. 5492, which would abolish the Selective Service, was introduced in the House of Representatives in December 2019. However, it was still waiting to advance as of Nov 2021.

South Korea amended its compulsory conscription law in 2020 to enable globally relevant entertainers such as K-pop group BTS, whose members would soon be forced to quit the group to serve their time in the military, to defer their 18-21 months of service until age 30.

Countries with Mandatory Military Service:

  • Algeria — 12 months for males aged 19-30
  • Angola — 24 months for males aged 20-45
  • ArgentinaDe jure - Conscription suspended, but government is authorized to reinstate if necessary
  • Armenia — 24 months for males aged 18-27
  • Austria — 6-9 months for males aged 18-50
  • Azerbaijan — 12-18 months for men aged 18-25
  • Belarus — 12-36 months for men aged 18-27
  • BelizeDe jure - Conscription legal, but has never been needed
  • Benin — 18 months selective compulsory for males and females aged 18-35
  • Bhutan — Training required for males aged 20-25, but full enlistment is voluntary
  • Bolivia — 12-24 months for males aged 18-22
  • Brazil — 10-12 months for males aged 18-45, but only 5-10% are actually required to serve
  • Cambodia — 18 months for males aged 18-30
  • Cape Verde/Cabo Verde — 24 months selective compulsory for males and females aged 18-35
  • Chad — 36 months for males age 20, 12 months for females age 21 (females can opt for civic service)
  • Chile — 12-22 months selective compulsory service for males 18-45, but conscription is rarely needed
  • ChinaDe jure - Conscription of males aged 18-22 for 24 months service is legal but has never been needed
  • Colombia — 18 months for males aged 18-24
  • Congo (Democratic Republic of) — Conscription of citizens aged 18-45 is legal, but degree of usage is unclear
  • Cuba — 24 months for males aged 17-28
  • Cyprus — 14 months in National Guard for males aged 18-50
  • Denmark — 4-12 months training for men at age 18, eligible for active conscription until age 50
  • Egypt — 18-36 months plus 9 years reserve for males aged 18-30
  • El Salvador — 11-12 months selective compulsory for males at age 18
  • Equatorial Guinea — 24 months selective compulsory for citizens at age 18
  • Eritrea — 18 months for males and females aged 18-40 - service obligation may be extended indefinitely
  • Estonia — 8-11 months for males aged 18-27
  • EthiopiaDe jure - No ongoing conscription, but military has authority to conduct compulsory draft if necessary
  • Finland — 6-12 months for males at age 18, reserves until age 60
  • Georgia — 12 months for males aged 18-27
  • Greece — 9-12 months for males aged 19-45
  • Guatemala — 12-24 months selective conscription service for males aged 17-21, though conscription is rare in practice
  • Guinea-Bissau — 24 months selective compulsory for males and females aged 18-25
  • IndonesiaDe jure - Selective conscription of 18-24 months service for males at age 18 is authorized, but not currently utilized
  • Iran — 18-24 months for males at age 18
  • Israel — 24-48 months (9 years for pilots) for males and females at age 18
  • Ivory Coast/Cote d'IvoireDe jure - Selective conscription of males and females aged 18-25 is authorized, but not currently utilized
  • Jordan — 12 months for unemployed males aged 25-29
  • Kazakhstan — 12-24 months for males aged 18-27 - may be abolished soon
  • Kuwait — 12 months for males aged 18-35
  • Kyrgyzstan — 9-12 months for males aged 18-27
  • Laos — 18 months for males at age 18
  • Lithuania — 9 months for males aged 19-26
  • Mali — 24 months selective compulsory for men and women at age 18
  • Mexico — 12 months for lottery-selected males at age 18, eligible as reserves until 40
  • Moldova — 12 months for males aged 18-27 - may be abolished soon
  • Mongolia — 12-24 months for males aged 18-27, eligible as reserves until 45
  • Morocco — 12 months for males and females at age 19
  • Mozambique — 24 months selective compulsory for males and females aged 18-35
  • Myanmar(Burma)De jure - Law reauthorizing conscription passed in 2010, but hasn't gone into effect
  • Niger — 24 months selective compulsory for unmarried males and females at age 18
  • North Korea — 10 years for males and 5 years for females at age 17
  • Norway — 19 months (12 months plus 4-5 refreshers) for males and females aged 19-35. However, more than 80% are released from service.
  • Paraguay — 12-24 months for males at age 18
  • PortugalDe jure - Conscription is legally authorized, but not currently utilized
  • Qatar — 4-12 months for males aged 18-35
  • Russia — 12 months for males aged 18-27, reserves to age 50. May end conscription in near future.
  • San MarinoDe jure - No organized conscription, but military can draft citizens aged 16-60 to serve if need arises
  • Sao Tome and Principe — (Limited information) De jure - Conscription authorized for citizens at age 18, but is apparently unenforced
  • Senegal — 24 months selective compulsory service for males and possibly females at age 20
  • Singapore — 24 months for males aged 18-21, reserves to age 40 (enlisted) or 50 (officers)
  • SlovakiaDe jure - Conscription in peacetime suspended in 2004, but could be reinstated in event of war
  • SomaliaDe jure - Conscription of males aged 18-40 and females aged 18-30 is authorized, but not currently utilized
  • South Korea — 21-24 months for males aged 18-28 (scheduled to decrease to 18-22 months sometime in 2022)
  • South Sudan — 12-24 months at age 18
  • SpainDe jure - Conscription abolished in 2001, but government can draft citizens aged 19-25 in case of national emergency
  • Sudan — 12-24 months for males and females aged 18-33
  • Sweden — 7.5-15 months for males and females at age 18, eligible as reserves until age 47; however, only a portion of those who register are selected for service
  • Switzerland — 245 days (18 weeks training + six 19-day recalls) for males aged 18-30
  • Syria — 18 months for males aged 18-42
  • Taiwan — 4 months for males aged 18-36 plus up to four 20-day training recalls
  • Tajikistan — 24 months for males aged 18-27, an exemption can be purchased.
  • Tanzania — (Limited information) No military conscription, but selective conscription for 24 months public service is authorized. Current enforcement levels are unclear.
  • Thailand — 24 months for lottery-chosen males at age 21
  • Timor Leste — (Limited information) Conscription authorized for males and females aged 18-30 for 18 months of service, but current level of implementation is unclear
  • Tunisia — 12 months for ages 20-35
  • Turkey — 6-12 months for males at age 20, an exemption can be purchased after 1 month of training
  • Turkmenistan — 24-30 months for males aged 18-30
  • Ukraine — 12-24 months for ages 20-27 - may be abolished soon
  • United Arab Emirates — 16-24 months for males aged 18-30
  • United StatesDe jure - The United States military has been all-volunteer since 1973. But an act of Congress could still reinstate the draft in case of a national emergency.
  • UruguayDe jure - Conscription currently inactive, but government is authorized to activate conscription in case of national emergency
  • Uzbekistan — 12 months for males aged 18-27, shortened (1-month) term can be purchased, though purchaser will remain as reserve until age 27
  • Venezuela — Forcible recruitment forbidden, but citizens aged 18-50 must register for possible 12 months military training and service. Those who cannot demonstrate compliance forfeit significant government benefits
  • Vietnam — 24-36 months for males aged 18-27 (females eligible, but are not drafted)

Countries with Mandatory Military Service 2022

Countries with Mandatory Military Service 2022

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