Armed Forces Recruitment

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Armed Forces Recruitment


the satisfying of the needs of the armed forces for personnel in accordance with authorizations and tables of organization for peacetime and war-time.

Among the chief elements of the recruitment system are the grounds for enlisting citizens in military service, the terms of military service and method of selecting contingents for service in the army, the age of citizens called into the army, and methods of providing command personnel for the army.

Various methods of recruiting have been used in the history of the armed forces, including hire of mercenaries, voluntary service, feudal and popular militias, recruitment for pay and recruitment based on tax rolls, conscription, and compulsory military service. Compulsory military service is the basic method of recruitment in virtually all modern capitalist states; the armies of many countries are also formed by hiring (recruiting with pay) volunteers. Since 1967 the British armed forces have used only recruitment for pay. In the USSR and the other socialist countries the armed forces are recruited through universal military obligation laws.

The principles of recruitment for the armed forces are determined by the place of residence of the citizens called and the location of the forces. There are three principles for armed forces recruitment: the territorial principle, according to which the personnel are from the population of the region in which the units being filled are located; the extraterritorial principle, according to which the personnel are citizens of various regions; and the combined principle in which units are recruited by both of the first two principles.

The terms of military service are determined by the laws of the states on the basis of the size of the armed forces and the number of the contingents being called, the level of military technology, the condition and general education preparation of draftees, and so on. In armies that were staffed by drafting recruits on the basis of the tax roll the usual term of military service was originally life (for example, in Russia from the beginning of the 18th century until 1793); later the terms of service were gradually shortened. With the institution of universal military service the periods of military service were sharply reduced and divided into a term of active duty and a term of reserve duty. In modern armies the terms of active duty are set at 1½ to two years, whereas in the navy the period is three years. Contingents are selected for service in the army on the basis of the physical condition, political qualities, and morale of the citizens being called up. In this context consideration is given to privileges [deferments] that are awarded by law in some states to certain groups because of family situation, completion of education, and work in industry.

The age of citizens being called into the army is established on the basis of the missions to be fulfilled in the defense of the state, its matériel capacities, and the terms of service in the army. Most modern armies recruit citizens who have reached 18–19 years of age. In the USSR the draft age is 18. In the USSR and the other socialist countries armed forces recruitment during peacetime is done by routinely calling citizens of draft age for active duty in the military; during wartime reserve personnel are mobilized. Command cadres for the armed forces are trained in special military colleges and schools on both the secondary and higher levels.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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