NewsWorldWhat is a reservist, like the ones Putin has...

What is a reservist, like the ones Putin has mobilized and how many does Spain have?

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has mobilized 300,000 reservists in Russia. In Spain there is also the figure of volunteer reservists. They are citizens who want to “serve Spain” and, to do so, they contribute their skills and knowledge to the different missions carried out by the Armed Forces inside and outside the national territory. Currently in Spain there are 3,016 volunteer reservists, of which more than 20% are women. “We are here to serve,” Jorge Bañón, honorary reservist for a year and head of communication for the ARES Association of Spanish Reservists, the majority of the group, stresses to Efe. The reservists have become topical after the recent announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin to recruit 300,000 of them for the Ukraine war. But what this figure means in Russia and Spain is totally different. The concept was similar when in our country there was compulsory military service. Until the end of 2001, which ceased to be so, once the “military” was over, the soldiers went into the reserve, a situation in which they remained for several years during which they could be mobilized. Who can be a reservist? After eliminating the so-called ” mili”, in 2003 the figure of the volunteer reservist was created. Any citizen can access if they meet certain requirements such as having Spanish nationality, being 18 years old and not exceeding 58 if accessing an officer or non-commissioned officer position, nor 55 years for troop and sailor positions. You cannot have a criminal record and physical and psychological tests are passed in order to “enlist” in the reserve. Being a voluntary reservist implies being able to be activated to form part of the contingents that are periodically sent to operations abroad or for those missions that are in progress at the time of signing the commitment. In crisis situations they could be mobilized and incorporated into the Armed Forces In crisis situations, when the needs of national defense cannot be met by professional military personnel, the Council of Ministers may adopt, exceptionally, the necessary measures for their incorporation into the Armed Forces. The volunteer reservists sign a 3 year commitment. In it you have to detail how long they can be activated and their availability to carry out missions abroad or participate in peacekeeping and security missions, which can be renewed. They are given a training course that ranges from a minimum of 1 day and a maximum of 30 days, depending on whether the applicant has previous military experience or not. Of the more than 3,000 Spanish reservists, 245 were activated as of September 1. They carry out instruction and training exercises, training and improvement courses or serve in units , centers or organizations of the Ministry of Defense. The training courses cannot exceed 30 days and the rest of the services is the reservist himself who indicates how long he wants to be. A diverse profile There is no generic profile of the volunteer reservist and the motivations are very varied, although most did the military , come from military families or have a certain affinity with security and defense, says Bañón. In his case, this digital marketing professional wanted to be a reservist because he had a “thorn stuck” for not having been able to fulfill his dream of joining the Navy for wearing glasses. “And when the figure of the volunteer reservist was launched, they were less demanding and I was able to enter without any problem,” he says. The average age is high and in many cases with highly specialized professions The average age of the reservists is high, which from the association the model is blamed, a merit contest in which some places are offered that are linked to “certain degrees” and are “very demanding”. “When they ask you for an expert in international relations with a master’s degree, he is not a kid, he is already a person of a certain age”, which “greatly limits access”, explains Bañón. Even to access the employment of troops and sailors, although the requirement is to have graduated from school or 2nd year of ESO, “very specialized” professions are required, such as a crane operator, a highly valued profile in the market. Highly valued places The replacement rate is low, since the places that are offered, an average of 200 each year, do not cover sick leave due to age (from 380 to 400 each year). In the last call for October 2021, 250 places were offered. And despite the fact that “much” has not been promoted from the different Defense Ministries, every time there is a call, 10,000 applicants appear, according to data from the association. 10,000 applicants for 250 places The figure of the volunteer reservist is “attractive” for women, as evidenced by the fact that they represent more than 20% of the total compared to 8% in the Armed Forces. And this, despite the fact that they have a “significant handicap”, says Bañón, since in the scale of merits, the fact of not having done military service subtracts points, something that the association considers discriminatory. They also believe that applicants who are not civil servants are discriminated against, since they “have many more points to access than those who arrived from the street.” Destined to Lebanon or the Indian Ocean, Bañón stresses that the volunteer reservists are there to serve and not they wonder “if it is in Albacete or somewhere else”. “When we renew our commitment, we are asked about our willingness to go on missions abroad or participate together with the Military Emergency Unit (UME) in the face of natural catastrophes,” he specifies. There have been reservists in Atalanta, the European Union’s anti-piracy operation in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia, or in Lebanon. The reservists are aware that “at any given moment a conflict can arise and we can be called,” says Bañó

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