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Conscription refers to a military force gaining recruits by compelling people to enlist.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The main advantage of conscription is that it makes it possible to quickly create a very large military when needed. If conscription is a long-standing practice, it can also help develop a national identity.

The disadvantage of conscription programs are the fact that they are usually unpopular as many people do not like being forced into military service and can build up dissent. Conscripts are also on the whole have lower morale than volunteer soldiers.

Historic Instances of Conscription

  • The army of the Qin Dynasty was based around universal conscription.
  • The Roman army was based around conscription of citizens able to afford weapons and armor until the Marian Reforms.
  • Various instances of feudal levies.
  • Ashigaru in feudal Japan.
  • Starting with Peter the Great, the army of the Tsardom of Russia was primarilly composed of conscripts, conscripts in the Imperial Russian Army served for twenty year long tours of duty until the mid 19th century.
  • During the Age of Enlightenment, it was common for navies to send out groups of men called "press gangs" to forcibly conscript people in port cities to serve as sailors.
  • The Levee en Masse during the French Revolutionary Wars produced a vast army.
  • Both the North and the South during the American Civil War engaged in conscription, although it was unpopular.
  • Conscription was commonplace during the Great War and Second World War.

Conscription in Science Fiction