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A New Professional Army for France

A New Professional Army for France

Professionalisation (Part 13)

National Service today

1. The reference document

At its present status, National Service is ruled by decree no. 71-424 dated 10th June 1971 falling under Military Service law.

2. Principles

National Service is :

  • universal,
  • compulsory for young men and voluntary for young women.

3. Types of National Service

The following types exist:

  • a military type (Military Service within the Armed Forces or National Military Police Force)
  • 5 civil types,
  • 8 protocols.

Five civil types of National Service are ruled by the decree:

  • technical assistance service (1965)
  • co-operation service (1965)
  • conscientious objectors' service (1983)
  • National Police service (1985)
  • Civil Security service (1992)

Eight protocols placing conscripts at the disposal of civil ministries also exist. These protocols have been drawn up between the Ministry of Defence and the following ministries or administrative bodies for:

  • homecoming servicemen (1983)
  • professional training (1983)
  • the handicapped (1991)
  • National Education (1991)
  • urban affairs (1991)
  • employment (1992)
  • environment (1993).

4. Development

Over the past years, in order to introduce more flexibility into the ways of carrying out National Service, certain adaptations were made in terms of choice of the date (deferment regime), of the place of recruitment or of the type of function occupied. The number of civil functions has progressively increased whilst the number of conscripts within the Armed Forces has fallen.

5. The main figures concerning National Service (1995 data)

In 1995, 335 000 young Frenchmen took the selection tests (the "three day" selection).

Size of the contingent

  • Military form: 233 000 of which 8 000 under the various protocoles
  • Long Service Voluntaries : about 40 000 for an average duration of 19 months
  • Civil forms: 25 000

Number of waivers : 20 000

(for social, economic reasons,...)

Number of exemptions: 62 000

(on medical grounds)

Civil forms: 25 000 of which:

  • Civil Security (10 months) 650
  • Police (10 months) 8 000
  • Technical Assistance (16 months) 670 (French overseas departments and territories)
  • Co-operation (16 months) 5 300 (Foreign countries)
  • Conscientious objectors (20 months) 10 200

Main protocols (10 months): 8 800 of which:

  • Urban affairs 7000
  • Homecoming servicemen 250
  • Handicapped 200
  • Environment 260

Feminine voluntariate 1 400

Sources: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence

French Embassies in London and Washington.

For more information, go to French National Defense.

 

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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