12,000 Finns Start Military Service Under New Training Regime
(Source: Finnish Broadcasting News; YLE; issued Jan 06, 2020)
The 2020 training programme is intended to cut waiting and transfer times, as well as the 15 percent dropout rate.

Some 12,000 new recruits began military service on Monday. The vast majority of them, nearly 10,000, are serving in the Army. The rest are split between the Air Force, the Navy and Border Guard.

Most of the conscripts have joined large ground-forces units such as the Kainuu, Karelia and Pori brigades. Military service is compulsory for most young men. It lasts for roughly five to over 11 months, a total of 165, 255 or 347 days, depending on the level of training.

Alternative civilian service lasts as long as the maximum conscription period, nearly a year.

In 2018, nearly 24,000 people started military service. Just under 1,000 of them were women, who have been allowed to apply to join as volunteers since 1995. This year the Finnish Defence Forces will begin an experiment with shared male-female accommodation.

15% dropout rate

Some 15 percent of conscripts break off their service before completing their term.

Under the new Training 2020 Programme, service is divided up into six-week segments, starting with the recruit or rookie phase and moving on to specialised courses.

The biggest changes in the new system are in the first weeks of service, which are now in course format. Top brass hope that the revised programme will cut down on waiting and transfer times, as well as the dropout rate.

The next contingent starts in July.

Expatriates who don't serve may lose passports

Finland, along with neighbouring Sweden, Norway and Estonia, is among the few European countries with compulsory military service.

By law, every Finnish man must attend a call-up the year he turns 18. Those deemed not fit for service are exempted from peacetime military service. A conscript may serve later if he has a good reason to postpone his service, remaining liable up to the age of 60.

Those living abroad may be eligible for a postponement or waiver – but those who don't carry out military or non-military service are usually denied a Finnish passport after age 28.

After completing military service, conscripts enter the reserve and may be ordered to take refresher courses or even defend the country in wartime, up to the age of 50.

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