Chile: Ongoing student movement is blamed for the military’s lowest volunteer rate since 2007

by Stephen Shea

(17.10.2011) Nearly 57,000 18-year-olds have been called into possible active military service, the Chilean government said Sunday. The announcement comes on the heels of government reports of a 30 percent decrease in military volunteers since October 2010.

This year has seen only 14,127 men and women, between 18 and 24 years old, volunteer for military service, which leaves a 11,340-person gap to be filled in the current military ranks.

Chile has mandatory military service for all 18-year-old men, but typically has been able to fill its ranks with volunteers, avoiding the need for a draft.

Last year the government was forced to draft almost 39,000 18-year-olds, well before the start of the current student protest, according to reports by The Associated Press.

Yet blame has still fallen upon the student protest movement for the lack of volunteers. El Mercurio reported that with the shutdown of many high school and college campuses, military recruiters have not been able to attract volunteers.

Gen. Gunther Siebert, head of the Directorate of National Mobilization (DGMN), told El Mercurio, “Volunteers this year have dropped substantially, there is no clear interest in military service, especially due to the national situation with education.”

The DGMN, which oversees the draft, told El Mercurio that they need 2.5 people for every position that needs to be filled because many are weeded out through physical limitations or other factors.

Avoiding compulsory military service is not easy in Chile. Physical disabilities, familial dependency, criminal convictions and family ties to victims of the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990) are the only eligible exclusions, according to The Associated Press; university students are not exempt from being drafted.

Chileans registered for the draft should visit by Nov. 15 to see if they have been selected for compulsory military service.

Stephen Shea: Ongoing student movement is blamed for the military’s lowest volunteer rate since 2007. Santiago Times, 17 October 2011. Source:

Keywords:    ⇒ Chile   ⇒ Conscription