Military Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2017-06-30

The End of the Allotment System and

The New Conscription System

The End of the Allotment System in 1901

In 1901 the Allotment System was discarded. Sweden then changed to a Universal Draft Service System ("allmän värnplikt") with a Conscript Army ("värnpliktsarmé"). After the war with Russia 1808 - 1809 it became quite clear that the Allotment System had to be changed in order to provide enough soldiers. In 1810 a military system called Reinforcement troops ("Förstärkningsmanskapet") was founded. About 50,000 men were obligated to be a part of this system. The main purpose of these troops was to reinforce the Regiments without putting an extra burden on the "rote" farmers. A reinforcement soldier was also called "förstärkningskarl".

Beväringen - a forerunner to the Universal Conscription System

In 1812 another change was made to provide more soldiers. A force called "Beväringen" was founded at this time and replaced the Reinforcement troops. "Beväringen" was a forerunner to the Universal Conscription System. Every male between the age of 21 to 25 was required to serve in the military as conscripts (draftees). For some reason, the hiring of substitutes was allowed, i.e. to pay someone to do the service in his place. This was a demand from the farmers. The first muster for the "beväringen" was held in 1813. Initially they were trained together with the soldiers from the Allotment System. Later, however, "beväringen" were organized into their own Battalions ("beväringsbataljoner"). The length of the training period was only 12 days per year. First in 1856 the training was changed to 30 days over a two year period. In 1872 the right to hire someone else to do the service was abandoned. In 1810 and 1825 the number of "rotes" were increased. These processes of increasing the number of "rotes" were called "Extra roteringen" respectively "Ny roteringen". The Prussian army in wars during 1866 and 1870-71 had proven the effectiveness of Conscript Army could do. This helped to accelerate the need to change to a conscript army in Sweden. But nothing really happened. Sweden or rather the politicians were not ready for a change at that time. A lot of proposals on that issue had been made to the parliament from the military. In 1885 the length of the training period for the "beväringen" increased to 42 days per year. In addition, the number of years the male population was liable for military service was increased from 5 to 6 years. In 1892 the length of the training period for the "beväringen" once again was increased to 90 days per year became the required training period. Additionally, the male population was now liable for military service up to12 years. It was not until 1901 that Sweden was ready to abandon the Allotment System. The Universal Conscript System (Allmän värnplikt) was introduced. This system was based on the "beväringen".

The Universal Conscription System of 1901 - Allmän Värnplikt

In the Universal Conscript System / Draft System (Allmän värnplikt), which is a compulsory military service system, the training and education of the soldiers could now be held over a longer period of time. The training was conducted as one long training camp. This was different from the Allotment System where the regiments had a few training camps per year. The training of the Recruits in the Conscript Army/Navy were now being held in summer as well as in winter. The Swedish winters are snowy with temperatures far below freezing point. Therefore the Regiments needed proper barracks for the soldiers. So, the Regiments now moved to cities located in respective regiment's province. There, the Regiment moved into barracks. The Allotted Officers had until then lived in the countryside, living off the land. Now they became citizens. The Estates or the farms the officers had in the Allotment System were the property of the state and not the officers' own personal property. The new Conscript Army caused changes in the provinces. The "rote" farmers did no longer have to provide soldiers any more. The allotted soldiers were also a part of the country life. For example, the soldiers used to parade every Sunday at the parish church, with pipes and drums. The soldiers were popular. Now all that changed. The military presence and impact upon the countryside was gone. Before the Allotment System was abandoned in 1901 a few steps were taken to make the change of system easier. A lot of "rotar" did not have to provide a replacement soldier when the soldier retired. Instead they paid a vacancy fee to the military. This was especially true for the Navy. No soldiers in the Allotment System were fired in 1901. But many soldiers did choose to voluntarily retire in 1901. However, many decided to stay in the military, side by side with the new recruits in the Conscript Army & Navy. Conscription Service was known as National Service in the UK.

The Basis of the Universal Conscription/Draft System

The new Conscript Army kept a lesser number of the Officers from the Allotment System as the professionally employed "backbone" of the new system. This core of professional Officers of course received a salary paid by the state. Every "fit" Swede between the ages of 18 (first 21, then 20, later 18) and about 30 were liable for military service (in total 12 year groups, "årsklasser"). The Universal Conscription was compulsory. Each year, a number of new recruits were drafted for military education and training. When one set of recruits finished their training period a new set of recruits was drafted. In the beginning, the length of the training period was set at 240 days. In 1914 it increased to 340 days for soldiers, 400 days for Non-Commissioned Officers and 485 days for Commissioned Officers. The length of the training period has been adjusted several times over the years. When the draftees were fully trained they became a part of the Conscript Army. They also were called up for further training on a regular basis. The length of these additional training periods was 4 to 5 weeks. Both the frequency and the length of the additional training have changed over the years. One typical frequency was every fourth year. A certain number of the recruits were trained as non-commissioned officers and some were trained as officers. So the Conscription System provided the armed forces with both officers as well as common soldiers. In wartime the Conscript Army consisted of both drafted Officers as well as the professionally employed career officers. The Allotment System provided the armed forces with a fixed number of permanently recruited soldiers. The weakness of the Allotment System System was that it could not provide enough replacement soldiers in wartime. The new Conscription System provided a much larger base of soldiers. Every male in the population now was trained as a soldier and enough soldiers could be mobilized as needed. See also: The organization of Sweden's Conscription System, 1900's

The End of the Universal Conscription/Draft System 2010

The Universal Conscription System with a conscript army based on draftee soldiers was suspended on July 1st 2010. No more draftees were called up for military service after 2010. The armed forces are from 2010 instead based on a system with voluntary enlisted soldiers and officers contracted for a specific time (contractual employment) or until further notice. Instead of the Universal Conscription System (Allmän Värnplikt), which was a compulsory duty to do military service, the military service is based on a voluntary system with enlisted soldiers. The training of new recruits begins with a 3 months basic military training (GMU). After the basic training the next step for the recruits is a continuation course to become soldiers or seamen. When the recruits have passed the final course they will be offered an employment or a contract for a specific time.

Reactivation of the Conscription/Draft System 2017

The Swedish Government decided on March 2, 2017, to reactivate the Conscription System. The Conscription System was never disestablished in 2010, just inactivated. Due to the security situation in our part of the world the government decided to strengthen the defense capability by reactivating the Conscription System. Another reason to reactivate conscription was the problem of employing enough soldiers voluntarily to the professional units. The armed forces will from now on consist of both professional soldiers as well of draftee soldiers. The new conscription system includes both men and women. The first ones to be called up in 2017 are men and women born in 1999 and 2000. Women have since the 1980s been able to voluntarily do military service in the Conscription System; to make careers as officers and to serve in any type of units, including combat units. In the old Conscription System that lasted between 1901 to 2010 only men had to do compulsory military service in the system. In the new reactivated Conscription System in 2017 the duty to do compulsory military service also includes women. More information, Swedish Armed Forces

Related Links

The Organization of the Swedish Armed Forces during the Conscription Period 1901 - 2010 Conscription in Other Countries Military Enrollment Books for Conscripts, 1907 The Allotment System Top of page
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Military Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2017-08-20

The End of the

Allotment System and

The New Conscription

System

The End of the Allotment System

in 1901

In 1901 the Allotment System was discarded. Sweden then changed to a Universal Draft Service System ("allmän värnplikt") with a Conscript Army ("värnpliktsarmé"). After the war with Russia 1808 - 1809 it became quite clear that the Allotment System had to be changed in order to provide enough soldiers. In 1810 a military system called Reinforcement troops ("Förstärkningsmanskapet") was founded. About 50,000 men were obligated to be a part of this system. The main purpose of these troops was to reinforce the Regiments without putting an extra burden on the "rote" farmers. A reinforcement soldier was also called "förstärkningskarl".

Beväringen - a forerunner to the

Universal Conscription System

In 1812 another change was made to provide more soldiers. A force called "Beväringen" was founded at this time and replaced the Reinforcement troops. "Beväringen" was a forerunner to the Universal Conscription System. Every male between the age of 21 to 25 was required to serve in the military as conscripts (draftees). For some reason, the hiring of substitutes was allowed, i.e. to pay someone to do the service in his place. This was a demand from the farmers. The first muster for the "beväringen" was held in 1813. Initially they were trained together with the soldiers from the Allotment System. Later, however, "beväringen" were organized into their own Battalions ("beväringsbataljoner"). The length of the training period was only 12 days per year. First in 1856 the training was changed to 30 days over a two year period. In 1872 the right to hire someone else to do the service was abandoned. In 1810 and 1825 the number of "rotes" were increased. These processes of increasing the number of "rotes" were called "Extra roteringen" respectively "Ny roteringen". The Prussian army in wars during 1866 and 1870-71 had proven the effectiveness of Conscript Army could do. This helped to accelerate the need to change to a conscript army in Sweden. But nothing really happened. Sweden or rather the politicians were not ready for a change at that time. A lot of proposals on that issue had been made to the parliament from the military. In 1885 the length of the training period for the "beväringen" increased to 42 days per year. In addition, the number of years the male population was liable for military service was increased from 5 to 6 years. In 1892 the length of the training period for the "beväringen" once again was increased to 90 days per year became the required training period. Additionally, the male population was now liable for military service up to12 years. It was not until 1901 that Sweden was ready to abandon the Allotment System. The Universal Conscript System (Allmän värnplikt) was introduced. This system was based on the "beväringen".

The Universal Conscription

System of 1901 - Allmän Värnplikt

In the Universal Conscript System / Draft System  (Allmän värnplikt), which is a compulsory military service system, the training and education of the soldiers could now be held over a longer period of time. The training was conducted as one long training camp. This was different from the Allotment System where the regiments had a few training camps per year. The training of the Recruits in the Conscript Army/Navy were now being held in summer as well as in winter. The Swedish winters are snowy with temperatures far below freezing point. Therefore the Regiments needed proper barracks for the soldiers. So, the Regiments now moved to cities located in respective regiment's province. There, the Regiment moved into barracks. The Allotted Officers had until then lived in the countryside, living off the land. Now they became citizens. The Estates or the farms the officers had in the Allotment System were the property of the state and not the officers' own personal property. The new Conscript Army caused changes in the provinces. The "rote" farmers did no longer have to provide soldiers any more. The allotted soldiers were also a part of the country life. For example, the soldiers used to parade every Sunday at the parish church, with pipes and drums. The soldiers were popular. Now all that changed. The military presence and impact upon the countryside was gone. Before the Allotment System was abandoned in 1901 a few steps were taken to make the change of system easier. A lot of "rotar" did not have to provide a replacement soldier when the soldier retired. Instead they paid a vacancy fee to the military. This was especially true for the Navy. No soldiers in the Allotment System were fired in 1901. But many soldiers did choose to voluntarily retire in 1901. However, many decided to stay in the military, side by side with the new recruits in the Conscript Army & Navy. Conscription Service was known as National Service in the UK.

The Basis of the Universal

Conscription/Draft System

The new Conscript Army kept a lesser number of the Officers from the Allotment System as the professionally employed "backbone" of the new system. This core of professional Officers of course received a salary paid by the state. Every "fit" Swede between the ages of 18 (first 21, then 20, later 18) and about 30 were liable for military service (in total 12 year groups, "årsklasser"). The Universal Conscription was compulsory. Each year, a number of new recruits were drafted for military education and training. When one set of recruits finished their training period a new set of recruits was drafted. In the beginning, the length of the training period was set at 240 days. In 1914 it increased to 340 days for soldiers, 400 days for Non- Commissioned Officers and 485 days for Commissioned Officers. The length of the training period has been adjusted several times over the years. When the draftees were fully trained they became a part of the Conscript Army. They also were called up for further training on a regular basis. The length of these additional training periods was 4 to 5 weeks. Both the frequency and the length of the additional training have changed over the years. One typical frequency was every fourth year. A certain number of the recruits were trained as non-commissioned officers and some were trained as officers. So the Conscription System provided the armed forces with both officers as well as common soldiers. In wartime the Conscript Army consisted of both drafted Officers as well as the professionally employed career officers. The Allotment System provided the armed forces with a fixed number of permanently recruited soldiers. The weakness of the Allotment System System was that it could not provide enough replacement soldiers in wartime. The new Conscription System provided a much larger base of soldiers. Every male in the population now was trained as a soldier and enough soldiers could be mobilized as needed. See also: The organization of Sweden's Conscription System, 1900's

The End of the Universal

Conscription/Draft System 2010

The Universal Conscription System with a conscript army based on draftee soldiers was suspended on July 1st 2010. No more draftees were called up for military service after 2010. The armed forces are from 2010 instead based on a system with voluntary enlisted soldiers and officers contracted for a specific time (contractual employment) or until further notice. Instead of the Universal Conscription System (Allmän Värnplikt), which was a compulsory duty to do military service, the military service is based on a voluntary system with enlisted soldiers. The training of new recruits begins with a 3 months basic military training (GMU). After the basic training the next step for the recruits is a continuation course to become soldiers or seamen. When the recruits have passed the final course they will be offered an employment or a contract for a specific time.

Reactivation of the

Conscription/Draft System 2017

The Swedish Government decided on March 2, 2017, to reactivate the Conscription System. The Conscription System was never disestablished in 2010, just inactivated. Due to the security situation in our part of the world the government decided to strengthen the defense capability by reactivating the Conscription System. Another reason to reactivate conscription was the problem of employing enough soldiers voluntarily to the professional units. The armed forces will from now on consist of both professional soldiers as well of draftee soldiers. The new conscription system includes both men and women. The first ones to be called up in 2017 are men and women born in 1999 and 2000. Women have since the 1980s been able to voluntarily do military service in the Conscription System; to make careers as officers and to serve in any type of units, including combat units. In the old Conscription System that lasted between 1901 to 2010 only men had to do compulsory military service in the system. In the new reactivated Conscription System in 2017 the duty to do compulsory military service also includes women. More information, Swedish Armed Forces

Related Links

The Organization of the Swedish Armed Forces during the Conscription Period 1901 - 2010 Conscription in Other Countries Military Enrollment Books for Conscripts, 1907 The Allotment System Top of page