Chile tackles protesters with military draft order

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The Independent US

Chile is giving nearly 57,000 18-year-olds one month to report for potential military duty, saying the government needs to fill gaps in its armed forces because a nationwide student protest movement has reduced the number of volunteers it usually gets.

Military service is obligatory in Chile, but there are usually enough volunteers to fill the ranks so that no one has to serve against their will.

So far this year, 14,127 men and women born in 1993 have signed up. Armed forces deputy secretary Alfonso Vargas said they need a bigger pool to choose from to fill 11,340 spots. That is why 56,793 more teenagers will need to report in a month for potential duty in 2012.

Mr Vargas blamed the student movement that has been campaigning for education reform since April for leading thousands of young people to boycott schools, thus closing doors to military recruiters.

Brigadier General Gunther Siebert, who directs the military draft, said 2.5 candidates are needed for every place because many cannot serve for physical or other reasons.The military would need to call up only 14,223 more young people to get this ratio. But so many more have been told to report that Chile could have more than six candidates for each position.