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Georgia: Military Conscription Terminated

(Oct. 31, 2016) On June 27, 2016, the Minister of Defense of Georgia signed an order cancelling compulsory military service and creating armed forces based solely on voluntary recruitment. The order was issued almost a year ahead of a planned legislative amendment on creating a professional Georgian military that was debated in the Georgian Parliament. (Program Summary of Georgian Rustavi-2 Television News (June 27, 2016), Open Source Enterprise online subscription database, Doc. ID: CEL2016062773421976.)

The decision was criticized by the Prime Minister of Georgia, who was quoted saying that the decision to abolish compulsory military service should have been discussed by the government and the Security Council. (Id.) Reportedly, the order was issued on the eve of the NATO summit in Warsaw (July 8-9, 2016) with the purpose of meeting NATO requirements for joining the alliance. (Georgia Cancelled Compulsory Military Conscription, NEWSRU.COM (June 27, 2016) (in Russian); NATO Summit Warsaw 2016 (last updated July 9, 2016).)

The June 27 decision is reported to have followed the successful recruitment of more than a thousand volunteers willing to serve in Georgia’s armed forces. A decision on using contract-based military service was announced by the Georgian Defense Ministry on May 27, 2016. The call for volunteers was open to eligible individuals aged 18 through 35. The length of a contract for military service is four years. (Ministry of Defense of Georgia, Announcement, Contract-Based Military Service (May 27, 2016).) It was simultaneously announced that admission to military schools would be open to women. Ministry of Defense of Georgia, Announcement, Cadets Military Lyceum Launched Admission of Females and Males (June 24, 2016).)

Previously, the armed forces of Georgia consisted of a small cadre of professional military officers and a body of conscripts. Twelve- months of military service were mandatory for all males in the age bracket of 18 through 27 years. Conscripts were summoned twice a year, in the fall and spring, and served in the regular military as well as in the state security, police, and prison guard units. (Georgia Cancelled Compulsory Military Conscription, supra).

A new Minister of Defense was appointed in Georgia on August 1, 2016, and the press reports that he might reinstate conscription by cancelling the June 27 order. (Georgian Defence Minister Abolishes Conscription, TBILISI IMEDI TV (June 27, 2016) Open Source Enterprise, Doc. ID: CEL2016062735593202.)