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Question Of The Day

How Do Swedish Teenagers Feel About Mandatory Military Service?

"It feels pretty unnecessary to train a bunch of people in war combat if they're going to die anyway."
16.9.16
A soldier. Photo by Soldatnytt

Mandatory military service in Sweden was abolished in 2010. Since then, Swedes have been given the choice of enlisting for military tryouts. Now there's a possibility that this will change. Last month, a study group assigned by the Swedish armed forces announced that compulsory military training may be reinstated in 2019. This could mean that all Swedish citizens, regardless of their gender, born in 2000 or later, will be obligated to try out for the armed forces.

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A recent poll showed that 87 percent of Swedish people are positive towards reestablishing compulsory military training. The study also revealed that young people, in comparison to older generations, were quite skeptical towards the matter.

As the government is deliberating whether or not to confirm the proposal, I decided to ask some teenagers – the ones who might actually be affected by the revival of mandatory military service – about how they feel about the military, becoming a soldier, and our national security.

VICE: Do you know what compulsory military training means?
Carl, 16: You try out to see if you're fit for military service. If you're deemed fit you train for like nine months and go through a bunch of war scenarios.

It might get mandatory for you to apply. What are your thoughts on that?
Well, I've actually thought about joining the military force as a secondary career. So I think it's a pretty good thing because you get to travel around the country and meet people from different parts of Sweden – it's quite a social career! Also, I think we need to strengthen our military defence.

If Sweden went into war today, what do you think would happen?
It's really unlikely. But if Russia would invade us, I don't think we're be able to defend ourselves. But we'd be able to resist longer if the military service was mandatory.

Do you know what compulsory military training means?
Fritiof, 16: Yeah, basically? You do it after high school, right?

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It might become mandatory again, you know. How do you feel about that?
I've actually thought about joining willingly. Being a fighter pilot would be cool. But I don't think I could handle it really. Having to obey a bunch of orders and having to do unnecessary stuff only to show off your loyalty. And I'm not a huge fan of war anyway, so I'd rather not.

What is compulsory military training?
AnneLotte, 17: Isn't that when… I don't really know. But like an obligation to try out for the military service?

Yes. It might be reinstated again in 2019. What if you had to apply?
Personally, I think it could be fun. But really, I don't feel like we need the army at all. The government should be able to find diplomatic solutions to issues. So I feel like, it's kind of wrong, being forced into something that you don't want to be a part of.

What if Sweden went into war today – what do you think would happen?
God! I have no idea. Our defence isn't exactly great, so I don't think we'd do too well. I haven't really thought about it.

Do you know what compulsory military training is?
Neo, 15: It's like a tryout for joining the army.

It might get mandatory for you to apply. What are your thoughts on that?
I'd rather not, really. I wouldn't want to go out into a war zone because I don't feel like it's humane to make people be a part of something they don't want to be a part of. I feel like it's unnecessary and I feel like if I would die in war… It wouldn't be very fun. I mean I've got other stuff to do.

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What do you think would happen if Sweden went into war today?
I think we'd contact all the other countries and ask for help. Our army would probably go to war, but that wouldn't be good for Sweden. We're not really famous for our war skills, I mean we haven't done it in years.

Do you know what compulsory military training means?
Olivia, 16: No. What! Oh my god.

If another country attacked Sweden today, what do you think would happen?
We'd die. Or I mean, we have a military, but we'd still die.

There's this new proposal that could mean military service will be mandatory.
Victor, 15: I guess it's kind of exciting in a way, but I don't really know if I'd want to join. But if the legislation goes through I'm forced to do it anyway so… But maybe it's necessary, I mean we're kind of low on soldiers you know.

What do you think would happen if a country were to declare war on Sweden now?
I think we'd have a chance for a while, but we're a pretty small military and a pretty small country. I mean we'd never win against like, Russia, but I think we'd be able to resist a little while.

There's a proposal that might go through, which could mean that it will be mandatory for you try out for military service.
Maria, 17: I don't really know how I feel but I think it's pretty good. Personally, I wouldn't want to be forced to attend military training. So it's a no from me.

What if another country were to declare war on Sweden today. What do you think would happen?
I don't think we'd have a chance. I don't really think we're ready for it.

Annons

How do you feel about doing mandatory military service?
Tobias, 15: I guess I think it's good. Or actually, both good and bad. Because if Sweden were to be invaded by say, a world power, I don't think we could do very much about it. So it feels pretty unnecessary to train a bunch of people in war combat if they're going to die anyway. On the other hand I think it could be a good strengthener of character you know? You enhance your survival skills.

What do you think would happen if a country declared war on Sweden today?
I don't think we'd do much, 'cause we'd lose either way. And even if we resisted, we'd all just die.

@therealaretha 

Lede image by  Soldatnytt

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