More than 10,000 young people have begun their basic training courses in the Swiss militia army. Over the next 15 weeks they will be given training in one of over 40 different centres around the country.This content was published on February 7, 2000 - 16:28
More than 10,000 young people have begun their basic training courses in the Swiss militia army.Over the next 15 weeks they will be given training in one of over 40 different centres around the country.
As of this Monday, more than 10,500 young people have joined the Swiss army to do their basic training courses as part of the compulsory military service. Among those drafted, are also 64 women who joined on a voluntary basis.
Women mainly do their service in the medical corps and as weapons mechanics, but they can also get trained as helicopter pilots. However, under the current law they are not allowed to serve in combat units.
And, for the first time, nearly 100 soldiers also joined as paid instructors after completing their own military service.
Meanwhile, the army has reiterated plans for offering military service in one 300-day stretch. Currently all conscripts do a 15 week basic training course and refresher courses up to the age of 42.
The defence ministry also said it was willing to adapt the military training from 2003 to come some way towards meeting requests by the business world. The private sector has repeatedly complained that the current system of military service makes it difficult for many employees to pursue their careers.
Military issues will also be high on the agenda of parliament's spring session. The government has put forward proposals to allow Swiss soldiers to carry weapons on foreign missions. But the plans have already met strong opposition from right-wing groups, which argue it infringes on Swiss neutrality, and anti-army organisations.
From staff and wire reports
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