Updated: 26-Mar-2002 Committee on Women in NATO Forces

Special Edition




The law of June 29, 1967 ended compulsory military service and reorganised the Army as an all-volunteer force. At this time, the missions of the Army are integrated within the broader mission of the Public Force, comprising the army, the Gendarmerie and the police. Luxembourg has no air force or navy.
In April 1979, the first female candidates were incorporated into the police. A year later, women were also allowed to join the Gendarmerie. In 1987, the Army opened up to women.

In 1999, the government decided to split the Ministry and to merge the Police and the Gendarmerie. The Defence Department was integrated into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defence. The Police department now belongs to the Ministry of Interior.

In order to move towards professionalisation, the Army introduced, in 1997, in addition to professional officers and NCOs, career corporals. All other military personnel serve as volunteers.

Volunteer soldiers are the only eligible candidates for the lower ranks of the prison guard service, as well as postmen, customs officers and forest wardens. Moreover they have a priority right in other areas, as for instance the police forces.

The short career of temporary officers and NCOs was established in 1999. It allows young people to join the Army for up to six years.

Policy Changes/New Policy

The Army has no specific regulations on gender issues.

The government voted in two new laws that are applicable to military personnel:

1999: law that gives each parent a right to benefit from a 6-month parental leave (or 12 months part-time leave). This period is increased to 8 (16) months for each additional child. The parent is paid a fixed amount of approximately EUR 270 (135).
2000: law on sexual harassment addressing both genders.


In April 2001, Army personnel strength was at 770, with 330 vacancies. Currently 22 women serve as NCOs and enlisted troops. There are no female officers in Luxembourg's military, but two female cadets are currently being trained.

Women serve without restrictions on positions or specialities, including combat. However, most of the female personnel work in administrative jobs. A few also serve as medics, cooks and in transportation (i.e. military drivers).

(Numbers as of April 01)
Total Men Women % of women in the Army
Officers 58 58 / 0%
Cadets 9 7 2 22,2%
NCO's 1 161 156 5 3,1%
Volunteers 429 412 17 4%
Total 2 657 633 24 3,6%
Civilians 113 82 31 27,4%

  1. includes the military band
  2. military personnel only


The number of volunteers in the Army has been decreasing since 1994 and Luxembourg has had some difficulty meeting personnel recruiting goals (male and female). On the other hand, Luxembourg has responded favourably to the new security challenges and has decided to commit itself strongly to multinational security and defence. Thus, the army is confronted with new missions and needs to be restructured and adapted to meet the demands of this new environment.

The Army launched a recruitment campaign aiming first of all at making the voluntary military service more attractive to young people. The pay was increased substantially and civilian guardians were recruited in order to allow volunteers to concentrate on their military training.

The campaign also aims to attract more young people to commit themselves for a minimum of 18 months. An advertising campaign focuses on both Luxembourg citizens and EU citizens (living in Luxembourg) as the Army intends to open its voluntary military to the latter.

Due to the fact that the Army does not make any distinction between men and women (with the exception of lower standards for the physical selection test), women are currently not being addressed specifically.


Women must comply with the same entry requirements and training as their male counterparts. Their basic training lasts four months and is conducted at the Army Training Centre, "Grand-Duc Jean", together with men. Following this period, all volunteers join male and female integrated training units. Lower standards for physical tests are applied to women, as mentioned above.


Women have been deployed in support of UNPROFOR/IFOR/SFOR missions on normal volunteer soldier rotations.

Recruitment for non-Article 5 operations is done on a volunteer basis for all categories of personnel. However, the Minister of Defence has the authority to designate professional personnel for such missions, without distinction between men and women.

Career developments

Men and women enjoy the same career development opportunities.


Not only does Luxembourg have difficulties in meeting overall manning levels, but also surveys indicate that women tend to apply for positions with the police rather than the military. Until now, these young women have had to do their military service prior to joining the police forces. However, a new police law, adopted in 2000, opens Police careers to civilians.

Thus, one of the challenges of the Luxembourg Army will be first to stimulate the interest of women in the Army, and then secondly, to motivate them for a career with the Army.

National Co-ordination Office

Nathalie GATTONI
Head of International Relations Office
Etat-Major de l'Armée
38-44 rue Goethe
Tel : +352 488836 291
Fax : +352 402605
Email: bureau.relations-int@ema.etat.lu

Go to Homepage Go to Index