The chief conscription officer of the armed forces, Gen. Moussa Kamali, has told reporters that Iran is currently encountering difficulties in securing an adequate number of soldiers and may increase mandatory military service to 24 months. He also reported that many exemptions, deductions and options to pay to avoid military service will be removed.
Kamali said that Iran was facing decreasing birth rates and that from 1980 to 2001, the number of births had dropped by more than half. Therefore, Kamali said, “The armed forces have encountered difficulties in securing the needed soldiers. As a result, the possibility exists that in the following year, all or part of the deductions for military service will be removed and [compulsory] military service will be increased to 24 months.” Kamali added that reduced-time exemptions are still applicable for those who entered military service this Iranian calendar year, which ends March 2014.
In Iran, military service is mandatory for all males and generally not viewed favorably by many who feel that their time spent in service delays their professional and personal lives. Atypically for Iranian websites, the comments section of Alef article was extremely long and full of protestations.
Those who attend college immediately after high school can postpone military service. A higher academic degree can secure them better positions while in service, as can strong political connections. There are medical exemptions as well, but over the years, medical examiners have become more strict, as those who starve themselves or overeat before the medical examination have found out. There are also various other exemptions, such as for only children who care for their parents, or for those who work in industries vital to the government or military.
In most parts of Iran, military service is 21 months. Those serving at borders, where violence is common or weather is extreme, have different required lengths of service. Military service requirements have generally ranged from 18 to 24 months.
One objection to military service for many young males is that it delays marriage. Kamali rejected those claims. He told reporters, “70% of those you who serve in the military are between the ages of 18 to 20, and are discharged between 20 and 21, whereas the average age of marriage is higher.” Kamali also said that Iran is reviewing its policy of offering a reduction in service time for those who are married.
In regard to those who pay high fees for exemption from military service, Kamali said, “Because of its discriminatory nature, paying off military service was never desired by the armed forces, and that option has been closed.” He added that for those who live outside of the country, the option of paying off military service had been cancelled earlier this year. For those who live in the country, paying to avoid military service has not always been offered.
Kamali said, “In contrast to public opinion, serving in the military is welcomed by the youth” because, according to him, 80% to 85% of young men report to the military on time, only 10% to 15% are absent from military service and very few never report.
Men who do not serve in the military or have not been exempted are ineligible for government jobs and typically are not hired for high-paying jobs. They also cannot apply for a passport.