True Lithuania

First conscripts report to the Lithuanian military

2015 05 15. Lithuania's reintroduction of conscription came to its final phase as conscripts began reporting to the centers of Lithuanian armed forces as the list of those invited has been publicized by the military two days earlier.

In total, some 38 000 males between ages 19 and 26 made it to the randomly generated list (and will have to report), but only some 3 000 will be ultimately drafted to serve 9 months. Of those some 1 000 will be volunteers (who were offered higher salaries and include females as well as older people) while the rest will be chosen from young males unwilling to serve. However, tight health limitations are expected to disqualify most: some 15% of the volunteers and 70% of those unwilling to serve are usually found to be physically unfit to service for reasons such as flat feet, scoliosis, wearing strong eyeglasses, being overweight or underweight.

Lithuania had originally abolished conscription in 2008 but has reintroduced it this year in order to enlarge its military. The decision has a popular backing in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine (and actions of the Russian leadership that indicate it still regards whole former Soviet Union as its sphere of influence). Public opinion polls suggest 51,9% support the conscription, 27,9% are against it while others are undecided.

Nevertheless, implementation of conscription has raised stir and questions. Typical issues include:

1.Conscription was reintroduced especially quickly (the law was rushed through parliament in March). Rapidly deteriorating geopolitical situation was explained to be the reason.
2.Many of the people who made it to the conscription list are contributing to the economy by working, studying and having a business, whereas many of those on the social services were left uninvited. The leftist government refused the proposal to first and foremost conscript the jobless (and those avoiding paying taxes by not declaring their job), which would have helped to solve economic problems and not to create new.
3.While the Lithuanian law protects conscripts from being fired, many Lithuanians working abroad or owning a business claimed this would not help them.
4.Lithuanians still remember practices of dedovshchina (hazing related to age, but also ethnicity, looks) prevalent in the Soviet military, asking if such practices have been surely eradicated.
5.Some Lithuanians noted that during the previous era of conscription corruption was rampant, allowing people with "connections" to avoid service (e.g. bribe a doctor to provide fake "proof of disease"). That's why a randomized lot was used now, while health is tested by military doctors and medical histories are not trusted. The list of all conscripts was posted publically online.

All in all, the Lithuanian military, which has a public confidence of over 50%, will now seek to prove to the common people that it also has what to give the conscripts and not just what to take from them.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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