Applications will be evaluated by January 20, but the Ministry of Defense (AM) expects that around a third of young people will be declared unfit for service, so a draw is scheduled for January 23, in which the remaining applicants will be called in on a mandatory basis.
The third draft next summer should consist of 480 young people. Volunteers could apply by December 1. AM reported 250 applications on November 29, but on the final day, the number of applications doubled.
The Ministry of Defense cited two reasons. One was an active outreach campaign calling for service applications and the other, when it was clear that only a week remained, the figure was insufficient and there would be mandatory selection, many young people decided it was more advantageous to volunteer and get more benefits.
The law States that those who apply voluntarily have a monthly compensation of 600 euros and those who are called mandatory only half that. Volunteers also then have access to state budget seats in higher education and more choice in relation to the service itself.
The exact number of mandatory conscripts is currently unknown. On average, 30-40% fall through each time, largely due to health conditions. To serve, certain health criteria must be met, but unfortunately, a large proportion of young people do not meet them. There are other reasons, such as criminality, but these are not prevailing reasons.
The Ministry of Defense noted that, compared to other countries with mandatory service, the proportion of drop-offs in Latvia is normal.
Secretary of State for the Ministry of Defense Jānis Garisons explained that the selection of conscripts, including health checks at the Armed Forces Medical Center, would run until January 20.
“Currently 60 have been declared valid for the service, but the tests are only in the early stages. The total number of youngsters fit for service is likely to be known by January 20, and then also counting on how many need to be conscripted [mandatorily]. Clearly, the selection will be more than necessary, accounting for the drop-off percentage. These young people will also have to undergo testing,” the AM Secretary of State noted.
The selection will be proportional to the number of young people declared in each municipality. A selection panel will be in place to ensure transparency, with observers also invited, Garisons said.