Sweden is to reintroduce military conscription next year due to difficulties filling the ranks on a voluntary basis at a time of increased security concerns, the defense minister said on Thursday.
Non-aligned Sweden ended compulsory military service in 2010 but military activity in the Baltic region has increased since then, prompting Sweden to step up its military preparedness, Reuters reports.
The reintroduction of the draft will cover men and women born in 1999 or later, although only a small minority will be selected to serve.
“We have a Russian annexation of Crimea, we have the aggression in Ukraine, we have more exercise activities in our neighborhood. So we have decided to build a stronger national defense,” Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told Reuters.
“The decision to activate conscription is part of that.”
Military service was the norm for young Swedish men during the Cold War but conscription was gradually watered down after the collapse of the Soviet Union as war in the region looked increasingly unlikely.
But a resurgent Russia and tensions over the conflict in Ukraine have left politicians on both sides of the aisle looking to boost military capability and address the lack of talent keen on making a career as a professional soldier.
Signs of the lack of military preparedness have cropped up in recent years, as when Russian warplanes carrying out a mock bombing run on Sweden in 2013 caught air defense napping.
The government’s decision entails the call-up of 4,000 men and women for military training per year in 2018 and 2019.
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