Youth with a non-Danish background make just a small part of military conscripts. According to a new report from the Institute for Military Psychology this is because they fail the written test.
According to Denmark's statistics there were 6.2% immigrants and descendants in 2000 among those invited to the testing session. A year later they were just 3.5% of the conscripts. Therefore the Defense Ministry asked the Institute for Military Psychology at the beginning of 2003 to research the issue. They found that 61.6% of the ethnic Danes were found fit for military duty compared with only 45.3% of the immigrants.
During the session the youth go through a series of tests of their physical and intellectual capabilities. The written test is the big difference between the two groups. 19.3% of the immigrants were found unfit by the written test, compared with 4.7% among the rest.
Lack of language skills play a part and this means that many 2nd generation youth have parents who come to Denmark without education. The report's authors expect to see the same tendency for ethnic Danes whose parents come from a weak education background.
The research concludes that language problems and school-background alone do not explain the high number that flunk the test. If somebody doesn't want to become a conscript, they have less incentive to do their best. It might also have to do with a mixed feeling regarding wearing uniform.
Jawad Sundoo works to recruit ethnic youth to the military. He doesn't deny that it's partially due to motivation and says they don't want to go to the army due to the current situation. Immigrants from Palestine or Iraq wouldn't want to be sent there as part of the Danish army.
He also says that it has to do with self-confidence and lack of information about the military. Many of the youth he meets don't see the military as a "right" career path. They are nervous that it is too hard and that they will lose face if they can't go through with it.
The researchers say there is no reason to change the written exams, but other possibility should be considered to increase access of New Danes to the military.
Source: Berlingske (Danish)