The Swiss Armed Forces operate under the country’s militia system, professional soldiers constitute about 5 percent of the military and the rest are conscripts or volunteers aged 19 to 34 (in some cases up to 50). Because of Switzerland’s long history of neutrality, the army does not take part in armed conflicts in other countries, but it does participate in international peacekeeping missions. Switzerland is part of the NATO partnership for peace programme.
The structure of the Swiss militia system stipulates that the soldiers keep their own personal equipment, including all personally assigned weapons, at home Compulsory military service concerns all male Swiss citizens, with women serving voluntarily. Males usually receive initial orders at the age of 18 for military conscription eligibility screening. About two-thirds of young Swiss men are found suitable for service, while alternative service exists for those found unsuitable. Annually, approximately 20,000 persons are trained in basic training for a duration from 18 to 21 weeks (increased from 15 weeks, in 2003).
The prime role of the Swiss Armed Forces is Home Defence. Switzerland is not part of any multinational war-fighting structure, but individual Armed Forces members do take part in international missions.