Short-term draftees embrace the military

Shorter conscription is getting more draftees to stay on in the military and make a career in the service of their country

The military is making men out of a lot more draftees after it cut its conscription term down to four instead of eight months. Daily newspaper Nordjyske Stiftstidende reported that conscripts who never considered joining the military often wound up continuing to serve their country after their initial term of service.

A newspaper survey indicated that almost a third of all those who signed up for the nation's international reaction force after their conscription ended had not considered entering the military before they were drafted.

Shortening conscription from eight months to four has helped the military to surpass its retention rate goal of 12-15 percent. About 16 percent of the first group of soldiers to finish serving under the revamped conscription regulations have decided to remain in the military.

After the initial four-month period, soldiers have the option of continuing to serve for eight more months, which qualifies them for deployment to such hot spots as Kosovo and Iraq as part of the nation's international reaction force.

'The numbers are a nice surprise for the military,' said Ronnie Hansen, spokesman for the Conscription Council, a draftee support organisation that opposes conscription.

Hansen said that the high retention rate could be attributed to the positive attitude about the shorter conscription period.

'Normally, conscripts start losing interest around the fourth month, so it's clear that people are more satisfied now,' said Hansen.

The increased retention rate is enough to meet the military's personnel needs, but many still believe that conscription's days are numbered.

Two opposition political parties, the Social Democrats and the Radical Liberal Party, have supported conscription, but are now looking to eliminate it. The two parties, however, do support a proposal to double the number of Danish forces stationed abroad.

Nordjyske Stiftstidende based its results on a survey taken among first 2300 soldiers to finish the new four-month military basic training.

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