Serving in the Military

Conscripted soldiers in Iran
By Jilas.wox (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

What kind of military service is there in your country? Do you think military conscription is a good idea? Spotlight looks at countries with forced military service.

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Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Colin Lowther.

Voice 2 

And I'm Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

It is the month of April in Thailand. Anand Naknava sits with many other young men at his school. There are also many people in dark green army uniforms. One at a time, the young men go to the front of the room. They pull a piece of paper from a box. Some of the papers are black. Others are red. If a man pulls out a red paper, they must join the military. Naknava does not want to be a soldier. He is a college student. But under Thai law, every man must put his name into this lottery system after he turns 21 years old. This is Thailand’s system for conscripting men into the military. People can also volunteer – they can choose to join the military.

Voice 2 

It is now Naknava’s turn to choose a paper from the box. His paper is red. He will have to be a soldier for two years. Then he can finish school. He decides to look at the good things about being in the military. He tells the news organization AFP:

Voice 3 

“Now I am chosen, I will get paid and I will not be any trouble to my parents. If other people can do it, then I can do it too!"

Voice 1 

In some countries being a soldier is completely voluntary - by choice. In other places, the government requires people to serve in the military. Today’s Spotlight is on military conscription - when people must join their government’s military.

Voice 2 

Almost every country in the world has a military. Soldiers are part of a country’s system of defence. Their job is to keep the nation safe. Soldiers do many different kinds of work. Sometimes they help after a natural disaster such as a flood or large storm. They may help the police of their own country. Soldiers also fight in wars, in their own country or another one.

Voice 1 

Countries require military service for two reasons. In some countries, it is an important part of citizenship. Every citizen is responsible for protecting the country. In other countries, the reason is more practical. Being a soldier can be very dangerous. It can be difficult to get enough people to volunteer to be soldiers. Each government chooses a system for conscripting its soldiers. The conscription lottery in Thailand is one kind of system.

Voice 2 

However, in most countries there are exceptions for some people. For example, usually sick or disabled people may not serve as soldiers. In other cases, people cannot use violence because of their religious or personal beliefs. They believe it violates their human rights to have to join the military. In many places, people with such beliefs may be excused from serving in the armed forces. And some people simply refuse to join the army.

Voice 1 

In most places only men are conscripted. However, some countries also include women. For example, in Norway, everyone must serve one year in the military. Laila Gustavsen is a lawmaker in Norway. She told the news organization Reuters that she thinks this is good for the country:

Voice 4 

"This is historic. For me it is wonderful to make history, for the military and for women. Rights and duties should be the same for all. The military needs the best resources, from both men and women."

Voice 2 

There are people who believe that women should not be conscripted into the military. There are also many people who disagree with ANY system of forcing people to join the military. Some people feel that this should be a free decision.

Voice 1 

Dafna Rothstein Landman is an Isreali teenager. In Isreal, most people must join the military at age 18. Landman does not want to serve in the military. She does not agree with the actions of the military. She has begun a petition against conscription. This petition says that young people should not have to be soldiers. She is gathering support for this request to the government. She told the website Common Dreams:

Voice 5 

"In a society where Army service is widely accepted we wanted to shake this idea. We wanted to make people think about what it means to serve in the Army. I realized to what degree the education system is organized towards the Army. It is not directed as much towards education, the job market, personal interests, and other things."

Voice 2 

There are movements like this against military service around the world. But there are also many people who see advantages to having many people serve in the military. People argue that being a soldier increases health by making people more active. It can also help people learn discipline - how to organize their own lives and work well with other people. Many militaries also train people in special skills, like using computer systems or machines. People can use these skills even after their time in the military is over.

Voice 1 

Some countries have special reasons for needing a larger military. In Russia, young men are supposed to be in the military for one year. Sergey Shoigu is the Russian Defense Minister. He says that Russia needs lots of soldiers because the country covers so much land. He told Rossiya-2 television:

Voice 6 

“Our territory is too big to have a purely professional army, including only people who choose to join. We have to have the ability to move out and around.”

Voice 2 

Thomas Ricks is a writer from the United States. There, people choose to join the military. The United States is involved in several long conflicts in other countries. In the New York Times newspaper, Ricks said that he thinks even more conscription could be good. He says it would make members of the government think more carefully. The government might not go to war as quickly if everyone had family members in the military. Ricks shares the words of United States General Stanley A. McChrystal:

Voice 7 

“I think if a nation goes to war, every town, every city needs to be at risk. You make that decision and everybody is personally involved.”

Voice 1 

What kind of military service is there in your country? Do you think military conscription is a good idea? Did you serve in your country’s military? Share your thoughts and experiences on our website at Or you can email us at

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Rena Dam. The producer was Nick Mangeolles. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. This program is called, ‘Serving in the Military.’

Voice 1 

You can also find us on Facebook - just search for spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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Do you think military conscription is a good idea? Did you serve in your country’s military?


hellokitty's avatar
said on May 13, 2014

I live in South Korea. In my country, all men must go to military. We did not officially end the war with North Korea, so I think that we must keep that rule for strong defence. But, when we end the war officially, I wish that military is completely voluntary - by choice.

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said on May 13, 2014

Do you think military conscription is a good idea?

This question depends on each country’s situation. Some countries are at war or in danger of wars. In these cases, military conscription is necessary.

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said on May 13, 2014

In South Korea, only men are conscripted. not women. but I disagree that women are conscripted, too. People does many thing in military, But essentiai work is to keep the nation safe. Men can do this better women.  it is righter to give work to man that is good at work than man that isn’t good at work.

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said on May 13, 2014

hello, i come from vietnam. Just like South Korea, in my country, only men are conscripted, not women. But women can be volunteer to serve in military.

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said on May 14, 2014

i very like it.
i think it’s amazing :D

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Jimmy Roberto Espinoza Mercado
said on May 14, 2014

Hi friends! I want to tell you that at the times of my military age everyone had to attend to a Board of Military Rating for passing a physical and psycological test; or otherwise pay a fine. I had to do it in Guayaquil, but I was excused because I have 75% of blindness. The border conflict between Ecuador and Peru is over, there is no more war now, so the conscri,ption, in Ecuador, already is voluntary. Thank you very much!

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said on August 19, 2015

Military conscription is good idea at all or sometimes is bad idea. This story makes me remember words from father of civil disobedience as below:

“The mass of men serve the State thus, not as men mainly, but as
machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army. In most
cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the
moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth
and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will
serve the purpose as well. Such people command no more respect
than men of straw, or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of
worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these are commonly
considered good citizens.”

So some cases, Government pulled soldier to war to server their personal interest or impure purpose.
And another case for example in our Vietnam country, Military and Police are just a tool to server Communist party and protect whom has power in government. But the most people standing arm as soldiers are blind, they could not realize that at all.

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said on August 24, 2015

Hello, freinds
I think that serving in the military is a good idea for teenegers and citizen in general. The defense of the territory is important and the control interior in the country too.
speaking about the discipline for young people I think must be law for all around the world go to the serving in the military. The peace depend of the defense of every country.

Mupmip218's avatar
said on October 20, 2015

In Vn, when the man is fully 18 years old, they have to do the military service. In case, they are studing in University or College, they dont have to do. It think it’s fair. And the military service last 18 months. All man ater military service seem to be stronger, their skin more black, and haircut is more short, and have the good discipline.
In my opinion, Military service is the good way to educate teenager.

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said on January 17, 2016

Each of us wishes beautiful good things. We do not wish not-good things. We wish peace. We build for beautiful good things together. We build for peace together. Peace is in air. Peace is on ground. Peace is in oceans. Peace is in each of us. Beautiful good things exist. Peace is everyone’s desire. We make much effort to build for peace. We are happy when we live our lives in peace. We are happy when we have peace.

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on May 20, 2016

I think that military conscription is a good idea BUT when the military be for country and people non for dectator rule as in my world, third world.
Yes, i serve in my country,s military.

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said on May 21, 2016

Serving in military is stupid action! Conscription is not good idea anymore, i think its better to spend these military budgets on food instead of wars !

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said on October 12, 2018

My father is serving in the military as the soldier in Vietnam, therefore I must not join in the armed force.

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said on October 13, 2018

In my country, young men at his 18 years old must serv the army for about one year. I think this is a very good idea because if you is a citizen you have responsibility with defense of your country. The conscrition look for preparation citizen for war and we don’t know if and when war became, so we must be prepared all the time.