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SWISS ARMY

Swiss army ‘loses track’ of 10,000 firearms

The Swiss department of defence says it no longer knows the whereabouts of up to 10,000 military firearms issued to Swiss soldiers who have completed their service.

Swiss army 'loses track' of 10,000 firearms

Over the past 12 months the department said it had retrieved 6,500 guns issued to former servicemen after checking 309,000 files.

But thousands of soldiers have failed to return information about the equipment issued to them as required after their period of service ends.

The army said this week it was unable to contact 6,000 ex-servicemen because their current addresses are unknown.

An additional 4,000 veterans have failed to return their service records to the authorities.

The records include information about firearms and equipment issued to the soldiers.

The army said it would be issuing follow-up letters reminding veterans of the need to contact authorities.

In March, the army noted missing information in the records of 27,000 former soldiers who had served in the previous six years.

Subsequently, 17,000 of these have been brought up to date.

The army said it is aware of 300 men who have failed to disarm after being notified to do so.

The cantons, which have received a list of names from the army, are aiding the defence department in its bid to track down these people.

Normally, soldiers who have completed their service are required to return firearms issued to them within 60 days.

In Switzerland, men between the ages of 19 and 34 are subject to military conscription, with alternative service for those found to be unsuitable for duty.

Around 20,000 conscripts receive 18 to 21 weeks of training each year.  

 

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SWISS ARMY

Do naturalised Swiss citizens have to do military service?

Once foreigners become citizens of Switzerland they get new benefits as well as responsibilities. Military service is one of the latter but does everyone have to do it?

Do naturalised Swiss citizens have to do military service?
Once you become Swiss, military service becomes obligatory. Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

Many foreigners wonder why Switzerland, which hasn’t fought a war in modern times, needs an army in the first place.

But military presence is ubiquitous in Switzerland, stretching far beyond the practical Swiss army knives.

All able-bodied Swiss men from the age of 18 until 30 are required to serve in the armed forces or in its alternative, the civilian service. Military service for women is voluntary and those who choose to do so will be pleased to know they can wear new, comfortable underwear designed just for them.

READ MORE: Women in Swiss military no longer forced to wear men’s underwear

Once you become a Swiss citizen and are between the ages of 18 and 30, you can expect to be conscripted. This was an experience of one of our readers, Dr. Robert Schinagl from the USA, who said that since he became naturalised “the military has been attempting to recruit me for national service”.

READ MORE: ‘A feeling of belonging’: What it’s like to become Swiss

What if you are a dual national?

In general, having another citizenship in addition to the Swiss one is not going to exempt you from military service in Switzerland.

However, there is one exception: the obligation to serve will be waved, provided you can show that you have fulfilled your military duties in your other home country.

If you are a Swiss (naturalised or not) who lives abroad, you are not required to serve in the military in Switzerland, though you can voluntarily enlist. 

But wait, there’s more

In case you have to serve but for some reason can’t, you’re not off the hook.

If the army won’t get you, taxes will.

If you are unfit for service, or if you fall under the category of dual citizens who served in foreign armed forces (as mentioned above), you will have to pay the so-called Military Service Exemption Tax.

You must pay it from the age 19 until you turn 37 — provided, of course, that you become Swiss during this time.

This annual tax amounts to 3 percent of your taxable income, or a minimum of 400 francs.

What if you perform the Civil Defence service instead of the military?

Introduced in 1996, this is an alternative to the army, originally intended for those who objected to military service on moral grounds. Service is longer there than in the army, from the age of 20 to 40

Civil service has, however, proven its mettle during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, when  around 4,000 civilian volunteers were supporting the emergency services and hospitals.

If you are part of civil defence service, you are entitled to a deduction from the annual military service exemption tax. For every day you worked for civil defence, you can deduct this tax by 4 percent.

This website (in German, French and Italian) explains how to apply for Civil Service.

Does serving as Vatican Papal Guard disqualify you from the military service?

Nice try, but no.

They are not soldiers but part of the Vatican City police force.

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