Jordan Table of Contents
After an Israeli raid on a West Bank border village in 1966, the government passed an emergency conscription act under which physically fit males would be drafted for training and service with regular military units for periods of up to two years. The same law, however, provided the loophole of a fixed fee payable in lieu of service, as well as other exemption provisions. In practice, military units kept their original character, recruiting continued for a time to be more than adequate, and the law became inoperative.
On January 1, 1976, a new National Service Law was issued by royal decree, establishing a service commitment of two years for men called to active duty by the General Directorate of Conscription and Mobilization of the Ministry of Defense. The new law coincided with government plans to modernize the army, which was to be completely mechanized within eighteen months. Moreover, the projected acquisition of sophisticated aircraft and missiles for the air force had brought into sharp focus the need to upgrade the skills and technical abilities of active-duty personnel. The new military service law was an effort to reduce reliance on the less educated bedouin servicemen by incorporating the better educated and skilled city dwellers--most of them Palestinians--to meet personnel needs in an era of modern weaponry.
The new law provided for conscription at the age of eighteen but encouraged students to continue their schooling through university level by a complex system of service postponements. Once an academic degree was received or the student reached the age of twenty-eight, the two-year service commitment had to be fulfilled. Jordanians working abroad also could postpone their military obligation. Exemptions were limited to those who could not pass the required medical examination because of permanent disability, those who were only sons, and the brothers of men who had died while in service in the armed forces. Any male of conscription age was prohibited from being employed unless he had been exempted from service or unless his call-up had been deferred because the armed forces had a temporary sufficiency. The law established an extensive system of veterans' rights, including job seniority, for men who had fulfilled their service commitment.
Of approximately 30,000 Jordanians who reached military age annually, about 20,000 were available for compulsory service, although the actual number called up was limited by the prevailing budgetary situation. The conscription system also assisted in filling gaps that had developed as a result of insufficient recruitment by inducing a greater number of young men to join the regular army. Volunteers for an initial five-year enlistment were paid on an adequate scale instead of the very low wage of conscripts and could aspire to higher positions and training opportunities.
Data as of December 1989