The US may revisit military drafts. Here's what life is like in 10 countries that already have them

  • A recent report shows that the US is looking into its draft program, weighing options from mandating service for women to getting rid of the draft altogether.
  • While a reinvigorated draft may alarm US citizens, nearly 60 countries around the world still have some form of conscription.
  • Some, like Israel, need the draft to ensure it can maintain its armed forces. Others, like China, often have enough recruits that a draft is unnecessary.
  • Some countries, like Norway and Israel, have allowed transgender people to serve for decades.
  • This is a look at 10 countries that still require every man, or every woman and man, to serve.


1. Russia

One year of military service is required for Russian men between the ages of 18 and 27.

The country allows for some exceptions – sons or brothers of men killed during their military service are released from conscription, for example.

Even with these exceptions, Russians have been evading the draft at alarming rates, and the government has considered forcing men to report even if they have not been selected.


2. Switzerland

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty ImagesA Swiss F/A-18 Hornet performs during an air show at the highest air force firing range in Europe in October 2018.

Military service is mandatory for Swiss men.

As recently as 2017, Switzerland was considering adding women to its draft roles.


3. Israel

Dominika Zarzycka/Nur Photo/Getty ImagesIsraeli Defence Force cadets are sworn in in front of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

Israeli men must serve in the defence force for three years.

Women are conscripted for two years.

Transgender Israelis have been allowed to serve since 1993.


4. Norway

Till Rimmele/Getty ImagesMembers of a Norwegian Leopard 2A4 wait for an order to advance against British and Danish troops during Exercise Trident Juncture.

Norway was the first NATO country to expand conscription to include women. It was also one of the first countries in the world to allow transgender people to serve, changing its policy in 1973.

The country’s conscription is selective; everyone has to register but won’t necessarily be called to serve.


5. China

Although China does mandate military service, it has routinely exceeded recruitment goals and has not needed to force conscription.


6. Iran

Conscription is mandatory for Iranian men, who must serve from 18 months to two years.


7. North Korea

North Korea has the longest conscription period in the world.

Men are required to serve for 10 years, starting at age 17.

Women must serve for seven years.


8. Egypt

Egyptian men must serve for a period of one to three years, depending on their level of education.


9. Austria

In Austria, men can choose between six months of military service and nine months of civil service.

Austria has allowed transgender troops to serve since 2004.


10. Meanwhile, other countries like Taiwan are getting rid of conscription altogether.

SAM YEH/AFP/Getty ImagesTaiwan army soldiers pose on a US-made M60 A3 tank after a live fire exercise in central Taiwan.

Taiwan pledged in 2011 to end conscription. The country is moving closer towards its goal of an all-volunteer force, but is facing hurdles as younger generations are choosing not to serve.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.