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Switzerland Military


The military of Switzerland, officially known as the Swiss Armed Forces, is a unique institution somewhere between a militia and a regular army. It is equipped with mostly modern, sophisticated, and well-maintained weapons systems and equipment. Men who want to apply for service in the Swiss Guard need to have completed their basic military service in Switzerland, and are also required to be Catholic.

The armed forces consist of a small nucleus of about 3,600 professional staff, half of whom are either instructors or staff officers, with the rest being conscripts or volunteers. All able-bodied Swiss males aged between 19 and 31 must serve, and although entry to recruit school may be delayed due to senior secondary school, it is no longer possible to postpone it for university studies. About one third is excluded for various reasons, and these either serve in Civil Protection or Civilian Service. For women, military service is voluntary, and they can join all services, including combat units.

Due to the small size of the Swiss Air Force, competition to become an aircraft pilot is extremely high. Candidate pilots and parachutists have to start training in their own free time from the age of 16, well before recruitment. However, if candidates appear at recruitment with a certificate showing completion of preliminary training, they are practically guaranteed that duty, provided they pass the following selection during service. Aspiring pilots must however first complete basic training in a regular unit and complete officer school before entering into a unit of candidate pilots.

Being landlocked, Switzerland does not have a navy, but it does maintain a fleet of military patrol boats, numbering 10 in 2006. They patrol the Swiss lakes: Lake Geneva, Lake Lucerne, Lake Lugano, Lake Major and Lake Constance. These boats are sometimes humourously referred to as the "Swiss Navy".

Switzerland being a neutral country, its army does not take part in armed conflicts in other countries. However, over the years, the Swiss army has been part of several peacekeeping missions around the world, notably in Bosnia & Herzegovina and in the Korean Peninsula, as part of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) stationed near the Korean DMZ.


Military branches
Swiss Armed Forces: Land Forces, Swiss Air Force (Schweizer Luftwaffe); Switzerland has no navy, but maintains a fleet of military patrol boats to patrol Swiss borders (2006)

Military service age and obligation
19 years of age for male compulsory military service; 17 years of age for voluntary military service; the Swiss Constitution states that "every Swiss male is obliged to do military service"; every Swiss male has to serve for at least 260 days in the armed forces; conscripts receive 18 weeks of mandatory training, followed by seven 3-week intermittent recalls for training over the next 10 years; women are accepted on a voluntary basis but are not conscripted (2005)

Manpower available for military service
males age 19-49: 1,707,694

females age 19-49: 1,662,099 (2005 est.)

Manpower fit for military service
males age 19-49: 1,375,889

females age 19-49: 1,342,945 (2005 est.)

Manpower reaching military service age annually
males age 18-49: 46,319

females age 19-49: 43,829 (2005 est.)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP
1% (2005 est.)





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