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Swiss Army to try out 300-day military service

Swiss soldiers normally serve for a few weeks every year

(Keystone)

The Swiss Army is to introduce an alternative to its current system of military service. A pilot project will offer conscripts the chance to serve for a block of 300 days, or 10 months, instead of being called up for short spells over a period of years.

The pilot is to be launched in the summer and will run until the end of 2002. If successful, the army may decide to continue the scheme.

The army presented the new model of military service at a news conference in Bern on Friday. The head of the army, commander Jacques Dousse, said it was being launched as part of the ongoing army reforms.

Initially the project will only be open to recruits to the mechanised infantry and the air force. A minimum of 100 volunteers is required for the block service, but no more than 10 women will be admitted.

"We have no more room for women in the barracks at our training centres," Dousse said.

The army chief said it was envisaged that soldiers involved in the project would serve as guards and in surveillance operations. They are also expected to be deployed in disaster relief missions.

Dousse said a brochure explaining the pilot project, and seeking volunteers, would be sent out in the near future to 13,000 new recruits.

Swiss men are called up to the army from age 18 and usually serve until their early 40s.

swissinfo with agencies


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