Building Stronger Societies: Involving Teenagers in National Security

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As part of RUSI’s Building Stronger Societies webinar series, Elisabeth Braw discusses how to involve teenagers in national security with Christina Malm, Director-General of the Swedish Defence Recruitment Agency, and two Latvian teenagers who are currently taking part in Latvia’s new national security curriculum.

With national security threats growing, countries are looking increasingly to teenagers as a resource. Traditional conscription, as practiced in past generations, is mostly neither feasible nor desirable. Instead, a number of countries have pioneered different approaches.

Sweden has had a conscript system from 1901 to 2010. Since 2017, Sweden has re-activated conscription and military service is no longer voluntary. The main tasks of the Swedish Defence Recruitment Agency are to inform, muster and enlist conscripts for military service, together with the Swedish Armed Forces staff and the Swedish war organisation. According to Swedish Law, the Swedish Defence Recruitment Agency should inform all Swedish eighteen-year-olds about their obligations linked to conscription - an information mission that uses different tools to attract and inform about military service. In contrast, Latvia has introduced a national security curriculum for secondary schools, which is currently being rolled out.

In this wide-ranging discussion, the panellists will reflect on these two innovative approaches, including what other countries can learn from them.


  • Elisabeth Braw, Visiting Fellow, Foreign and Defence Policy, American Enterprise Institute.
  • Christina Malm, Director-General of the Swedish Defence Recruitment Agency since 2015.
  • Sergeant Girts Skanis, Instructor in National Security, Latvian Ministry of Defence
  • ​Janis Upenieks, Latvian secondary school student.
  • Roberts Zvejnieks, Latvian secondary school student.
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