A look at Agnipath-like schemes adopted by other nations

While United States and France have short-term schemes on contractual basis, Russia, China and Israel have mandatory short-term military service for all their citizens

Agnipath scheme applications
Under the scheme, the youth between the ages of 17-and-a-half and 21 years would be inducted for a four-year tenure, while 25 per cent of them will be subsequently inducted for the regular service.

The Centre’s Agnipath scheme for short-term recruitment into the armed forces has seen widespread protests in the country with many resorting to violence.

While the government and the defence forces have supported the scheme, which will recruit youths of the age of 17-and-a-half to now 23 for a period of four years, many military veterans, political leaders and armed forces aspirants have criticised it.

The main bone of contention is the four-year term. While the supporters of the scheme say that the Agniveers after finishing their four-year contracts will become prime contenders for jobs in the private sector, those opposing it argue that after four years they will be left unemployed.

Also read: Agnipath: Altering well-oiled system can have serious repercussions

Military veterans have also questioned the recruitment model, saying it may hurt the morale of the Army, while many say that the younger recruits will make the forces fitter.

However, there are many countries in the world that recruit soldiers on a contractual basis.

United States of America

America has 1.3 million personnel on active military duty and more than 800,000 reserve forces, according to the Defense Department personnel data of 2017. Recruitment is on a voluntary basis and there are thousands of recruiting stations across the United States.

During World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, America had imposed conscription, making it mandatory for all men to join the military.

Today, America enrols personnel for four years, which is followed by a four-year reserve duty period where they can be recalled in case the need arises.

Soldiers are eligible for pensions in the US after serving for 20 years and those opting out earlier are eligible for certain allowances and perks on a case-by-case basis.

Russia

Russia follows a hybrid model of conscription and contract to recruit soldiers. Conscripts have a term of one year and are then put into reserve. As of 2021, all male citizens aged 18–27 are subject to conscription for one year of active military service.

New conscripts undergo up to eight months of training before being sent to designated units.

Also read: Agnipath scheme decoded: How to join, salary, benefits — and criticism

After several checks, mostly medical, some get conscripted and others don’t. However, failure to appear at the registration office is punishable by large fines and a two-year prison sentence.

The Russian Army has historically used conscription to ensure they have reserves with military training, in case there is a need to mobilise for a major war.

China

In China, military service with the People’s Liberation Army is obligatory for all Chinese males above the age of 18.

Article 55 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China prescribes conscription by stating: “It is a sacred duty of every citizen of the People’s Republic of China to defend his or her motherland and resist invasion. It is an honoured obligation of the citizens of the People’s Republic of China to perform military service and to join the militia forces.”

As per Chinese law, the term of service for conscripts is three years in the Army and four years in the Navy and the Air Force. For volunteers, the term of active service is eight years and no more than 12 years.

Israel

The country’s conscription model has been in place since the country’s independence in 1948. Arab citizens of Israel are allowed to enlist voluntarily, but they are not conscripted.

Compulsory military service for males is 30 months while women are required to serve 24 months unless they volunteer for a unit that requires additional service time.

The Economic Times reports that up to 10 per cent of the conscripts are retained into the armed forces and are given a contract for seven years. Pension is given after serving for a minimum of 12 years.

Also read: Agnipath scheme: What Agniveers can expect after four years

France

According to a SIPRI report of 2017, France has the largest armed forces in the European Union. In 1996, President Jacques Chirac’s government announced the end of conscription and in 2001, conscription formally was ended.

Today, the youth of France join the armed forces on a voluntary and contractual basis. The volunteer can sign a one-year contract, which can be extended to five years. Soldiers are given training for three months and those who serve for over 19 years are eligible for state pension.

(With inputs from agencies)

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