Covid-19 forces Swiss army recruits to train at home

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Thousands of new Swiss army recruits will learn how to salute and carry their automatic rifle from the safety of their homes this month. The army has imposed a “work-from-home” regulation for compulsory basic training due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Half of the 12,000 recruits preparing to enter service on January 18 will start their basic military training at home via an online app, Swiss public television, RTS, reported on Friday.

The decision was taken to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection among troops.

The 6,000 new recruits will be expected to train at home six hours a day for three weeks via a special app. A weekly four-hour physical training programme is also planned.

“These are individual exercises to be done at home. The application indicates the programme to be followed,” explained army spokesperson Daniel Reist.

After three weeks of distance learning, recruits will join other colleagues on February 8. But they will first have to pass a Covid-19 test. They will also be required to take knowledge and physical tests to ensure they have completed the online programme. If they fail, they will have to make up for it at weekends in the barracks.

Reduction of troops

“We hope the guidelines will be followed. They are counted as days of service and recruits are paid,” Reist said.

In the army barracks recruits will continue to follow strict hygiene rules similar to last year.

Switzerland’s militia armed forces system obliges most men to undertake basic military training at the age of 18 and then attend regular refresher courses. Basic training lasts 18 weeks followed by six refresher courses of three weeks each.

Reforms implemented in 2018 have reduced the number of Swiss troops on active duty from 140,000 to 100,000. Around 10,000 are professionals, the rest are conscripts or volunteers. Military service is voluntary for women, who currently number around 1,000.

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