Poland to end conscription by the end of 2008

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Poland's defence minister, Bogdan Klich, said the country will move towards a professional army and that from January, only volunteers will join the armed forces. The decision means that by October next year, when the last draftees complete their nine months of compulsory service in the ranks, Poland should have a conscript-free army.

With more than 1,000 troops in Afghanistan, and more in Iraq and the Balkans, Poland's commitments abroad require a modern fighting force, the army said.

Poland's 48,000 conscripts are banned by law from being sent on foreign missions, rendering them "not operationally useful", according to Lieutenant-Colonel Artur Galwaski, an army spokesman.

"Ending conscription will allow us to have fully-trained professionals who understand their duty, and the equipment they use," he said.

Already now Poland started a recruitment campaign for professional soldiers. "Join the Best" advertisements have already appeared on public television channels and will also hit billboards nationwide in an effort to drum up support. Lt Col Galawski said that the government had contingency plans in case it failed to attract enough recruits, including the possibility of allowing people with duel-citizenship to sign up, and lowering the educational requirements for officers.

Sources: The Telegraph: Poland ends army conscription, 5 August 2008

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