Conscription was once a common word in Italy, and in many ways, Italy wouldn’t exist without it. Many people think of Italy as a truly ancient place. After all, this is the home of Rome itself. But the country of modern Italy that we know today has existed only since 1861.

How to build an army

Italy became a country after a long revolution that led to the unification between Northern Italy and Southern Italy. But after decades of being a whole country, Italy was still lacking something pretty important: an army. In 1907, the government instituted military conscription.

Through conscription, which requires men of a certain age and eligibility to serve in the military, Italy built an army of 300,000 men by 1912. This was all soon to change, however, as the world was drawn into the First World War.

Going to war

More than 5 million Italian men served in the army during WWI, with almost half a million of them being killed in action. More Italians were called to serve during WWII, when Italy was allied with Germany and the Nazi party. During WWII, Italy recruited men aged 21 to 30 primarily, though men 31 to 45 were also drafted to serve in the army.

Conscription did not end in Italy until the 2000s when legislation finally put an end to the practice. However, in the late 2010s Italian politicians have talked about potentially reinstating conscription. Many European countries require men to serve in the military.

A history of battles

Italy has a long history of war. Rome is famous in ancient history for conquering much of the known world at the time. There was also a great deal of warring between the northern and southern halves of Italy, not to mention neighboring countries that repeatedly fought to gain control of Italy.

Today, even without conscription, Italy has almost 250,000 active military personnel and 20,000 reserves.  The Italian army has tens of thousands of helicopters, fighters, combat tanks and armored fighting vehicles and other combat vehicles available to use. And today, the Italian army also accepts women.