Military Service, Compulsory
Military Service, Compulsory
as established by law, the obligation of the population to perform military ser-vice in the armed forces of their country. In a slave-owning society, military service consisted of an obligation and right of freemen, mainly the slave owners. With the appearance in Greece and Rome of standing armies, representatives of the poorest class also began to be permitted to enter the army, the rich often hiring substitutes. The use of mercenaries was practiced widely. In the early Middle Ages in the West, the army mainly consisted of militia of free peasants and townspeople called up for service by the community. In the period when land was being broken up into feudal parcels, the prevalent form of military service became the knights’ militia. With the rise in the 15th and 16th centuries of standing mercenary armies, the main role in manning the forces began to be played by recruiting.
In August 1793, the French Convention decreed a massive compulsory recruitment into the army of all Frenchmen 18 to 40 years old, beginning with 18- to 25-year-old bachelors and men without children. In 1798, universal compulsory military service, with a six-year period of service, was enacted in France under the name conscription. Prussia (1814-15), Austria-Hungary (1868), Italy (1875), and other governments gradually changed to a system of universal compulsory military service, with the aim of creating a mass army. Great Britain and the USA preserved recruiting, introducing universal military service during World Wars I and II. The USA and Great Britain (until 1967) continued recruiting after World War II.
In ancient Rus’ until the 17th century, compulsory military service was achieved by a feudal and popular militia. Created in the first half of the 17th century, “new order” troops gradually displaced the feudal dvorianin (noble or gentry) militia. From 1699 to 1705, compulsory service recruitment was in effect. In 1874, during the introduction of the military reforms of the 1860’s and 1870’s, compulsory military service was introduced in Russia. The Statute of 1874 set the draft age at 21; the general period of service was to be 15 years and, of these, six years were active service (seven in the navy) with nine more in the reserve. In 1876, the period of active military service was reduced to five years; then it repeatedly changed, first being decreased to three or four years, then increased to five years. Russia entered World War I with the following bases, set up by the law of 1912: a draft age of 20 years (by January 1 of the year of being drafted) and a general period of service of 23 years, made up of active service, reserve, and militia duty. Active service in the infantry and unmounted artillery was for three years; in the remaining types of troops, it was for four years; and in the navy it was for five years. In the reserves, service in the infantry and unmounted artillery was for 15 years; in the remaining types of troops, it was for 13 years; and in the fleet it was for five years. All surplus troops of the yearly called contingent fit for military service were enrolled in the militia first class; surplus troops only somewhat fit for service and those released because of family responsibilities entered the militia second class.
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