“Great” news for young Croats – instead of spending the summer enjoying themselves, they will learn “essential” life skills, like how to march and how to use gas masks.
If Parliament adopts the proposal by the Defense Ministry, a pilot project of the reintroduction of compulsory military service will be launched in 2018, while starting from 2019 the compulsory military service would include around 30,000 young Croats every year. They would mostly be young men, since the military service for women would be voluntary.
The details will be defined in a new national security strategy which should be ready in spring. “We have to see which new capabilities we need in the security system”, said Defense Minister Krsticevic, who confirmed that it was very likely that the conscription will be reintroduced, allegedly due to new geopolitical and regional threats.
However, it would be a so-called “light military service”, a short-term training of basic military skills. Initially, the compulsory service would last only four weeks, or perhaps just three weeks. Such short duration is being considered due to savings, since the return of the six-month-long military service, which existed until 2008, would be extremely expensive. Especially in the first year, when the government would have to build infrastructure that can accommodate about 30,000 young people a year.
The service will resemble a summer camp, with young conscripts using only summer uniforms, without jackets and other winter equipment. Also, the cost of travel and meals should not be too large. Furthermore, recruits would allegedly be accommodated in existing housing facilities, where it is possible, while in other places they would use temporary facilities, gyms etc. According to reports, the Defense Ministry has opted for a “light” version so that it would avoid accusations about re-militarization of society.
Krsticevic says that they were thinking about the obligations of university students, so the basic training will be organized in two terms, for example, from July 15 to August 15 and from August 15 to September 15, prior to the autumn university term. This means that the Defense Ministry will have to provide accommodation for about 15,000 recruits at one time.
After Croatia abolished compulsory military service in 2008, it focused on the professional army, with about 16,000 professional soldiers. There is currently also a voluntary military service, which has been completed by 5,783 conscripts, of whom 600 women, since 2008. The number of volunteer recruits is growing every year, so in 2016 almost a thousand conscripts completed training. The number will probably grow even further in 2017, because the Ministry increase the monthly allowance for conscripts from 1,200 to 2,000 kuna. It remains to be seen what will happen with the voluntary part of the training.
In a few years time, the compulsory military service will create a base of trained conscripts who will be included in the long-planned reserve-forces, numbering about 20,000 soldiers. According to the plans of the Defense Ministry, conscientious objectors will be able to replace military with civilian service. The civilian service would last maybe 7 to 8 weeks, twice as long as military service.