I also did the compulsory army, as a student, before 1990. About volunteering in the Romanian and German army

The comments are flowing in a cascade, regarding the project to introduce the voluntary military service, which would be voted by the Parliament, in the middle of this year. Realism also creeps in between naivety and arrogance. As a young student, during Ceaușescu’s time, I also joined the army, compulsory and in a form specific to the times. I can say that I didn’t get sick.

The army before 89Photo: Personal archive – Dani Rockhoff

That it wasn’t “a great thing”, as President Klaus Iohannis said from the height of his current dignity, other men who were compulsorily regimented for nine or fourteen months during the former dictatorship also said.

Instruction and grammar

Beyond the discomfort of the accommodation and meal conditions, most of those I spoke with complained of the double abuse of attitude: of the graduates who were training, on the one hand, the the sticks to poofs (ie older and newer soldiers) on the other hand.

As they say, the army would not have been so bad if there had not been chicanery, ambitions and even sadism in the application of punishments (as was the case with some excesses in the disciplinary battalion). But after the end of the mandatory military service, there was less mental toughness left, more jokes and feats to tell.

I, for example, remember that during my three years of military service as a student, with one day a week of theory in class (Fridays) and twice three weeks of convocation during the summer holidays, I actually learned things : tactics, strategies, how to fire the pistol/machine gun, how to disassemble and clean it, how to crawl or grenade a tank, etc.

I learned that if the officer didn’t like you, she would put you through field training to carry the AG, the grenade launcher weighing over 7 kg. I also learned that, in the army, the plural of manta is e shellsand it’s from the spade spadeas a colonel who came to inspect told us, the Philology students.

Completing the tests brought badges and ranks (leader, corporal, sergeant, second lieutenant), and at the end the students received a military reserve book.

Armed with a spoon

It is true, the army imposes, first of all, discipline and a rhythm of life granted in the group. Waking up at dawn, training, physical tests (but not only) that make you step out of your comfort zone, push your limits, in conditions of momentary danger, with prolonged effort and no immediate reward. Compulsory military service is most often felt to be a constraint, a limitation of freedom of choice. But how many things in life are not like that?

And now there is not even a question of an obligation, but of a four-month volunteer, acceptably paid. HotNews.ro writes: “Volunteers would learn how to handle different types of weapons, participate in field orientation, decontamination, first aid courses and others. They would be paid 2,800 to 3,200 lei monthly (depending on the weapon they are training on) and, at the end, they would receive a bonus worth three average gross salaries. If they do that, employers would be forced to temporarily suspend employment contracts and, in the end, if they like and fit, young people can choose to have a career in MapN”.

What’s so tragic about that? It’s a preparation just in the houses and that leaves the options open. Of course, there is the fear of recruitment, when mobilizing in the event of an armed conflict. But the variety of specialties in the army, especially in the increasingly technical present, strongly mitigates the idea that, being a soldier, you automatically become “cannon fodder”. In fact, even as a simple civilian you can become the direct or collateral victim of a drone, of a bombing.

I have to say that I didn’t have this fear, even though I finished the army during the Iron Curtain, and with the military officer’s book in reserve I could always be the subject of a summons. By the way, women are not recognized for their military training, as men are. A little discrimination, or not?

Military volunteering in Germany

But let me return to the volunteering proposed in Romania, only on paper and in public discussion, or more precisely to the one practiced in Germany. Almost 13 years ago, the German Bundestag sent the following statement: Deutscher Bundestag – Aussetzung der allgemeinen Wehrpflicht beschlossen

“The men of Germany no longer have to do military service or alternative civil service. Some 55 years after its introduction, the Bundestag suspended general conscription on 1 July this year, Thursday 24 March 2011. In accordance with the recommendation of the Defense Committee (17/5239), the factions CDU/CSU, FDP and The 90/Greens Alliance voted for the Federal Government Defense Act Amendment Act 2011 (17/4821). The law also creates voluntary military service of six to 23 months, which is open equally to men and women. In the future, up to 15,000 volunteers will serve in the Bundeswehr alongside regular and professional soldiers.

The suspension of compulsory military service is part of the planned reform of the armed forces, which aims to reduce the size of the Bundeswehr, from around 255,000 soldiers currently, to as few as 185,000. However, termination of service only applies in peacetime; in case of tension or defense, it can be reactivated. Therefore, Article 12a of the Basic Law, according to which every male German citizen can be required to serve in the armed forces, in the Federal Border Guard, or in a civil defense association, starting at the age of eighteen, remains untouched “.

Here are some of the features of “Bundeswehr training” in brief. A total of 18,776 soldiers were hired in 2022. The German army allows young people who are not yet of age but have reached the age of 17 to enter training.

The requirements are as follows:

  • 1. German citizenship.
  • 2. 17 years old with parental consent, or at least 18 years old.
  • 3. Willingness to perform, willingness to learn and ability to work in a team.
  • 4. Physical health.
  • 5. Physical fitness.
  • 6. School qualifications are not necessary for a team career.

The basic training of the German Bundeswehr aims to teach new soldiers, also known as recruits, the basics of military skills. Basic training is done at the beginning of service as a soldier and usually lasts three months.

Basic training is intensive – imparting basic military knowledge that every soldier must know. In just three months, the recruits are familiar with everyday military life: they march, shoot guns and sleep in the open, etc.

An overnight stay in the barracks is required during basic training. Quiet time starts from 22:00 and retreat to the bedroom from 23:00. The company commander can decide on exceptions.

Wake-up call is at 5:00 a.m. After personal hygiene and dressing, report and bedroom check is done. Then they go to breakfast together in the band kitchen. Daily core operations usually end at 5:00 PM and on Fridays at 11:00 AM.

As a soldier you can expect an average annual salary of €38,200 and a monthly salary of €3,183. This corresponds to an hourly wage of EUR 19.90.

Because of their civil servant status, professional soldiers and temporary soldiers have the advantage of only having to pay a small amount of their salary. For example, social security contributions are eliminated. Only care insurance and taxes are collected. Other advantages are “free medical care” and pension supplements.

For a captain who has been in the military for twelve years, the annual pension can increase by up to 860 euros. For a primary military doctor, who has worked for 20 years, the annual pension can even increase by up to 1,730 euros. A table of figures relating to monetary entitlements in the German army can be consulted here. Besoldungstabellen: Grundgehälter von Soldiers und Officers (bundeswehr.de)

Iron Soldiers

And for those who think in thicker strokes, here is a classification from the Austrian press, regarding who are the toughest soldiers, more precisely the strongest special forces in the world: Die härtesten Spezialeinheiten der Welt • NEWS.AT

1. GSG9 and SEK from southern Bavaria, Germany

2. 2nd Argus Special Unit, Switzerland

3. GIGN, France

4. Sayeret Matkal, Israel

5. Navy Seals, USA

6. SAS, Great Britain

7. Special Forces 7 Alfa, Russia

8. Unidad de Operaciones Especiales, Spain

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Barack
As an experienced journalist, expert in useful tips, I have a passion for providing valuable information and practical guides to a wide audience. My articles are characterized by thorough research and verification of reliable sources that ensure the quality and accuracy of every information I provide
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