Praktisering av verneplikten i Norge 1814-2000
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This paper discusses the principle of general conscription and implementation of that principle in Norway from 1814 to the end of the 20th century. The principle of general conscription contains within itself a contradiction between its rational military origins and its function as a nation-building instrument. This contradiction can only be solved when sufficient resources are allocated to conscript armies in order to invest in modern equipment and develop military skills. This study shows that for most of the period – with the 1950ies and-60ies as an exception – the principle of general conscription in Norway was never fully implemented, mainly as a result of scarce resources. Rhetorically, however, conscription still plays a central role as a nation-building institution. Recent military, political and cultural changes have rendered conscription less suitable as an efficient tool for military recruitment. Consequently, with the coming radical reductions in Norwegian defence force size one should employ a more pragmatic view on how to recruit personnel to the military forces, just as has been done in most other industrialized nations already, and in line with a nearly 200 years old tradition in Norway.