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Swiss army wants to recruit more women

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Swiss army wants to recruit more women
Photo: Hugo Kaiser/DDPS
11:03 CET+01:00
Increasing the number of women recruits would be “beneficial” to the Swiss army, a top commander has said.
“For me it would be desirable if we could significantly increase the proportion of women in the medium term,” said Corps Commander Daniel Baumgartner in an interview with Neue Zürcher Zeitung published on Wednesday.
 
“Women think and act differently. That would be good for the army,” he added.
 
While Baumgartner did not suggest that compulsory military service should be extended to women, he said a compulsory ‘information day' should be introduced where women can find out about the opportunities the army could offer them. 
 
“For me, it's a question of equality,” he said.
 
Currently in Switzerland women are not required to undergo military service like their male peers but they may volunteer for either military or civil service. 
 
At the end of October only 65 women out of 7,600 recruits started recruit school, reported news agencies.
 
An increase in the number of women in the army would go some way to offsetting the decline in male soldiers of late.
 
Speaking to NZZ Baumgartner said every year some 3,000 male recruits drop out of recruit school in favour of doing civil service instead.
 
Official statistics show that the number of people choosing civil service is on the rise, with 6,169 starting their service in 2016 against 5,836 the previous year. 
 
Some fail to finish military recruit school due to health reasons, often finding the regime they are put through physically too hard.
 
The army should take that into consideration and adapt the methods used at recruit school, Baumgartner told the paper. 
 
“Our society is no longer used to marching from 6am to 11pm,” he said.
 
Fitness classes should also form part of the training to help recruits build up muscle strength before being exposed to physically difficult tasks, he added.
 
But he denied this would amount to going soft on recruits, and said it was “presumptuous and arrogant” to assume that this generation were useless.
 
They are particularly skilled in the area of information technology, he said. 
 
“We have to take the boys as they are and not as we would like them to be.”
 
All Swiss men over 18 are required to undergo military or civil service, and must pay an exemption tax if they do are excluded due to health reasons or refuse to serve. 
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