To reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in their barracks, the Swiss army decided that several thousand conscripts would start their military service at home.
“It is quite new,” admits Daniel Reist, spokesman for the Swiss army, contacted by the AFP news agency, but in these times of pandemic, “this ideal solution has been adopted.”
Considered one of the pillars of the nation, the Swiss army is organized like a militia: led by several thousand professionals, the conscripts perform a military service of at least four months, and then each year they participate in three-week training sessions .
This year, some 15,000 young men and women have to do their military service.
But the army fears that if there are several cases of covid-19 among them, it will not have the ability to manage it.
Physical entry to the recruits school “has been staggered to ensure that any recruit with a positive test for covid-19 is treated optimally and that isolation and quarantine measures can be applied correctly,” explains the federal Department of Defense. in a statement. A first group, including “medical recruits”, whose mobilization is more urgent to reinforce the troops already deployed in Swiss hospitals, will enter the barracks on Monday.
But some 5,000 of the 15,000 recruits this year will have to wait to wake up to the touch of the bullseye.
They will begin their training at home for three weeks, before being able to enter the barracks, in a kind of “military teleservice”, as the newspaper Le Temps has called it in an article entitled “The arrival of the military sofa”.
“This week they all received the program, they are modules (…), which they must do at home, a theoretical work, on the screen,” explains Reist.
Topics range from the operation of service weapon, to military regulations or health protection, through the chapters on bacteriological and chemical weapons. “We start from the principle that someone who follows the lessons seriously needs six hours of teleworking day, “says the spokesman.
The program also includes “four hours of sports training per week.”
This three-week period will be counted in the days of service and as such will be paid.
Some find the initiative amusing, like a netizen who talks about “war from the couch.”
For others, the device is a bit sketchy. This is the case of Stefan Holenstein, president of the Swiss Society of Officers, quoted in Le Temps: “I understand that currently unconventional concessions had to be made but I am skeptical. Military service has a practical and social character that cannot be replaced with e-learning ”.
The military is also concerned about the lack of control of this formation. “We cannot play policemen” in the homes of these 5,000 recruits, admits Reist “but it is clear that there are some rules” and that “the system detects if someone has never entered it”.
In addition, upon his arrival at the farmhouse, three weeks later, there will be tests to analyze his knowledge.
“Those who do not pass will not have so many permits to leave,” he warns