Foreigners in Swiss army

This is a topic that comes up at regular intervals. Politicians from left and right see that foreign men not serving in the Swiss Army or paying the bribe…errr paying military service exemption tax as a financial advantage.

It’s really funny to have all the downsides of Swiss citizenship, but none of the upside.

The Federal Council already gave the opinion that this, a big no. But, it’s on the hands of Parliament (Nationalrat) right now:

“Restoring equal treatment for members of the same population segment”: this is the aim of National Councillor Roger Golay (MCG/GE). This segment of the population is men. The Swiss join the army or pay the exemption tax, while foreigners don’t do anything. This has to change, he believes, and they have to pay to participate in the “defense effort”.

Join the Swiss Army of bygone years - join the Popes, Swiss Guard !!!

Serving in a nation’s army as a non-citizen classes you as a mercinary. This typically makes you a criminal in the countries you hold citizenship of.


Swiss Government money should not be spent on the so-called Swiss guards.


Anyway, the idea that foreigners have to participate in “defense effort” is there. Fun thing is foreigners pay most taxes as anyone else.

They’re not suggesting they serve in the army but rather pay a tax because they’re not able to serve.

It’s a bonkers idea if you ask me.

Foreigners cannot vote - so the playing field is not level to start with, hence destroying the argument.

I doubt it will go anywhere.

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On the other hand, the rumblings of equality are becoming louder… should women also be required to take part in Switzerland’s military service?

There were a surprisingly large number of women in my son’s group this year.

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I’ve heard more women are joining. My son mentioned that the woman have their own rooms and bathrooms and generally have “lighter” tasks than some men. He also said they are treated quite well.

They had their own dorm in my son’s section but there were enough of them to fill it and they had their own showers.
They were treated very well according to my son but they were expected to do everything the men did, that might depend on what function they’re doing.


When I did Swiss army service as a company commander, I had a detachment of women. It was a pleasure having them around because a) they were good at what they did and were conscientious and b) their presence generally ensured that the males were better behaved than they might otherwise have been!

My issue was often with the female officers who would tend to try separate their squads, i.e. go off and do their own exercises. I nipped that in the bud and said that while they were in my unit, they were fully integrated and everyone was treated the same.

They did however have separate quarters, which was fine with me.


As I recall it’s in the world of historical re-enactment and living history that women first started playing an equal role to men & serving alongside the men in battle reenactments, if they so desire. The leading light on this was the English Civil War reenactment group; The Sealed Knot ( founded in 1968 ) where it’s founder Brigadier Peter Young DSO, Military Cross & Two Bars insisted ( from the time the group was formed ) that women members would not be confined to Washer women or Camp Follower roles and could also take part as Gunners, Musketeers, Pikeman or Officers of the ECW. Other reenactment groups & societies that sprang up soon after the SK followed the SK’s example. This being long before the British Armed Forces started doing the same during the 1980’s.