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Flora Botsford
The last Spanish conscripts ever
 real 56k

Thursday, 16 November, 2000, 17:10 GMT
Spanish army goes professional
Certificates show conscripts have completed their service
Conscripts celebrate the end of their service
By Flora Botsford in Madrid

The last conscripts ever to serve in the Spanish armed forces have been announced. The Spanish government has released the names of 90,000 teenagers who will have to complete their compulsory military service before 2002.

By that date, Spain will have a fully professional army, navy and airforce, in line with the rest of Europe.

Conscription in Europe
Spain
Professional army by 2002
Current military service: 9 months
France
Professional army by 2002
Current military service: 10 months
Italy
Professional army by 2006
Current military service: 10 months
Germany
Conscription to be reduced to 9 months
Current military service: 10 months

Source: European council of conscripts org
At present, young men on compulsory military service spend nine months serving their country. But from 2002 Spain's armed forces will be for volunteers only.

France and Italy are also phasing out conscription, while Gemany plans to reduce compulsory service by a month.

It is clear that in the high-tech military future, a more efficient fighting force is made up of people who want to be involved.

Borja Tesoro Recio is carrying out his military service in the Spanish army. "I've got nothing against it, it's perfect for people who like the military lifestyle," he says, "but I think everyone should be free to do whatever they like, everyone has to forge their own life".

The majority of conscripts do not go on to choose a military career, however much they've enjoyed the experience.

Spanish conscript Borja Tesoro Recio
Borja Tesoro Recio: "Everyone has to forge their own life"
The Spanish army is now facing one of its greatest challenges yet - attracting professional recruits instead of conscripts. It has put a recruitment bus on the road in a bid to persuade youngsters to sign up.

Targeting areas of high unemployment, the army offers work, future and a profession.

But this may not be enough. The country is enjoying a booming economic expansion, and army salaries are way below those available in civilian life.

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