Myanmar’s military junta mandated compulsory military service for all eligible citizens. A move that came amid ongoing political turmoil and armed opposition across the country. The People’s Military Service Law, effective on 10 February, imposes conscription on men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27 for up to two years. Specialists such as doctors up to 45 years old may be required to serve for three years. The service can be extended to five years during the continuing state of emergency, as announced by state media.

The decision to enforce mandatory military service follows three years of unrest since the military coup in 2021, which triggered widespread protests and a severe crackdown on dissent by the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military. The junta is struggling with armed rebel forces seeking greater autonomy in different regions of the country.

The Tatmadaw has faced significant challenges in countering a coordinated offensive by ethnic minority insurgent groups and pro-democracy fighters since October. Anonymous military sources suggest that the junta’s inability to counterattack has decreased morale among low- and mid-level officers.

Analysts observe that the Tatmadaw struggles to recruit soldiers, prompting the deployment of non-combat personnel to the frontline. In an audio message, Junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun stressed the necessity of a national military service system involving all people due to the current situation in the country.

The recent move to enforce mandatory military service revives a conscription law enacted in 2010 but left unenforced until now. According to the legislation, failure to comply with the draft could result in imprisonment for up to five years. The junta’s defence ministry will release further regulations, procedures, announcements, orders, notifications, and instructions in the coming weeks.

The military’s crackdown on dissent since the 2021 coup has resulted in over 4,500 deaths and the arrest of more than 26,000 individuals, according to a local monitoring group.