Basic training exercises were planned to begin on Monday, 18 January, but 5,000 Swiss citizen recruits were instead told to do their training at home for the first three weeks to preclude the risk of spreading Covid-19 in the barracks.
Swiss army spokesperson Daniel Reist called the decision "the ideal solution" during the pandemic.
Reist said that each soldier has received online learning modules covering subjects such as operation of their service weapon, information on biological and chemical arms, military regulations, and health protection.
“We leave them the choice of when to do their lessons, but they need six hours of telework each day", Reist said. Superiors can monitor when a soldier logs on and off. And theoretical knowledge will be tested when the recruits arrive at the barracks in early February.
To find out more on other remote training developments, check out Remote, But Still Together.
Four hours of physical activity a week is also included in the training.
Arrival at the barracks for the remainder of the 15-weeks training will be staggered “to ensure that any conscript who tests positive for Covid-19 is optimally supported and that appropriate isolation and quarantine measures can be taken”, a Federal Department of Defense press release stated.
The Swiss Society of Officers expressed concern about the scheme: “I can see that we have to make unconventional concessions right now, but I'm skeptical. Military service has a practical and social character which can’t be replaced by e-learning ", said Stefan Holenstein, society president.
Despite its neutrality, Switzerland has compulsory military service beginning at age 19. Swiss men are required to spend several weeks in the army each year until they have completed at least 245 days of service.
Conscription is for men only; however, women can volunteer.