Macron Pledges to Restore Military Service for French Youth

  • Presidential candidate says service to increase ‘resilience’
  • Independent says plan would also strengthen nation’s democracy

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron said he wants to renew short-duration military service for the nation’s youth.

“I want every French youth to have the chance to experience, even briefly, military life,” Macron said in a speech on defense in Paris. “This is a major project for society, one of citizenship, that is intended to make our democracy more united and increase our collective resilience.”

The service would have to be completed within three years of the 18th birthday of all French men and women, drawing in about 600,000 of them a year. It would have startup costs of between 15 billion and 20 billion euros ($16 billion to $21.5 billion) and then an annual operational cost of between 2 billion and 3 billion euros, Macron said. France suspended military conscription two decades ago.

Macron, an independent, is roughly tied with National Front candidate Marine Le Pen for first-round voting intentions and then would go on to beat Le Pen in the second-round vote two weeks later, according to recent polls.

  • Macron also promised to modernize the nation’s nuclear arms arsenal if elected, keeping both the submarine and air launch platforms.