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Conscription is controversial for a range of reasons, including conscientious objection to military engagements on religious or philosophical grounds; political objection, for example to service for a disliked government or unpopular war; sexism, in that historically men have been subject to the draft in the most cases; and ideological objection, for example, to a perceived violation of individual rights. Those conscripted may evade service, sometimes by leaving the country, and seeking asylum in another country. Some selection systems accommodate these attitudes by providing alternative service outside combat-operations roles or even outside the military, such as Siviilipalvelus (alternative civil service) in Finland, Zivildienst (compulsory community service) in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Several countries conscript male soldiers not only for armed forces, but also for paramilitary agencies, which are dedicated to police-like domestic only service like internal troops, border guards or non-combat rescue duties like civil defence.
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As of 2023, many states no longer conscript soldiers, relying instead upon professional militaries with volunteers. The ability to rely on such an arrangement, however, presupposes some degree of predictability with regard to both war-fighting requirements and the scope of hostilities. Many states that have abolished conscription still, therefore, reserve the power to resume conscription during wartime or times of crisis. States involved in wars or interstate rivalries are most likely to implement conscription, and democracies are less likely than autocracies to implement conscription. With a few exceptions, such as Singapore and Egypt, former British colonies are less likely to have conscription, as they are influenced by British anti-conscription norms that can be traced back to the English Civil War; the United Kingdom abolished conscription in 1960.
Modern conscription, the massed military enlistment of national citizens (levée en masse), was devised during the French Revolution, to enable the Republic to defend itself from the attacks of European monarchies. Deputy Jean-Baptiste Jourdan gave its name to the 5 September 1798 Act, whose first article stated: "Any Frenchman is a soldier and owes himself to the defense of the nation." It enabled the creation of the Grande Armée, what Napoleon Bonaparte called "the nation in arms", which overwhelmed European professional armies that often numbered only into the low tens of thousands. More than 2.6 million men were inducted into the French military in this way between the years 1800 and 1813.
Feminists have argued, first, that military conscription is sexist because wars serve the interests of what they view as the patriarchy; second, that the military is a sexist institution and that conscripts are therefore indoctrinated into sexism; and third, that conscription of men normalizes violence by men as socially acceptable. Feminists have been organizers and participants in resistance to conscription in several countries.
Norway introduced female conscription in 2015, making it the first NATO member to have a legally compulsory national service for both men and women. In practice only motivated volunteers are selected to join the army in Norway.
Conscription, which was called "Service Duty" (Dutch: dienstplicht) in the Netherlands, was first employed in 1810 by French occupying forces. Napoleon's brother Louis Bonaparte, who was King of Holland from 1806 to 1810, had tried to introduce conscription a few years earlier, unsuccessfully. Every man aged 20 years or older had to enlist. By means of drawing lots it was decided who had to undertake service in the French army. It was possible to arrange a substitute against payment.
Sweden had conscription (Swedish: värnplikt) for men between 1901 and 2010. During the last few decades it was selective. Since 1980, women have been allowed to sign up by choice, and, if passing the tests, do military training together with male conscripts. Since 1989 women have been allowed to serve in all military positions and units, including combat.
The United Kingdom introduced conscription to full-time military service for the first time in January 1916 (the eighteenth month of World War I) and abolished it in 1920. Ireland, then part of the United Kingdom, was exempted from the original 1916 military service legislation, and although further legislation in 1918 gave power for an extension of conscription to Ireland, the power was never put into effect.
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The transcript from the May 13 news briefing shows the following question was posed to McChrystal: "Is it true that you are contemplating -- awarding some sort of special honor for soldiers who make a special effort to avoid civilian casualties?"McChrystal: "The issue of courage -- we have a number of ways to recognize courage in uniform. And I think courage in uniform can come under enemy fire in the most traditional ways, or it can come under actions that may not be as expected or as traditional -- involve killing the enemy; it may involve protecting civilians. There's a great photograph from the Marja operation. I think it's a U.S. Marine shielding an Afghan man and an Afghan child with his own body. He wasn't shooting anyone; he didn't kill any Taliban; but I would argue that he showed as much courage as any that I've seen on the battlefield. So when we talk about courage, I think -- I don't think we need a different medal to differentiate different kinds of courage. "Sholtis, the public affairs officer for ISAF, provided a similar account to PolitiFact Florida in an e-mail: "The idea came up in a discussion between the commander of Regional Command South, UK Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, and Command Sergeant Major Mike Hall, ISAF's top enlisted soldier, and it was also posted to the ISAF website where it was picked up by reporters. However, at the time (and in the article) CSM Hall said the intent was not to create a new medal but to use existing medals to recognize heroism displayed in ways other than combat with the enemy -- for example, in protecting civilians. A subsequent article quoted me as saying that the idea of submitting troops for an award under those circumstances was consistent with our approach to counterinsurgency and was under review. The 'under review' bit was misinterpreted as confirming that the idea of a new medal was under review, which a number of commentators weighed in on over a news cycle or two. However, it was not the case that a formal proposal for a new medal was under review." 041b061a72