Although my father was in the military and lived 20 mins away from an Army base, I as a Canadian, was very rarely exposed to anything to do with the military. At home, I see the odd soldier in uniform running some errands later work but that is the most Id see; I feel like Europe is a different story.
First off, many countries including Norway have mandatory enrollment for young males to dedicate a year of their lives to service. There are clearly many exceptions and ways to weasel their way out of this commitment, but regardless the expectation exists. After the year, they can choose if they would like to commit to more and as a girl, you can choose to try it out for 6 months and then make a decision to commit further. I can only think of one or two people I graduated with from my high school class of 322 that chose voluntarily to serve for the Canadian military.
Here in Harstad, which is above the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway soldiers, primarily Dutch and British, come to do their “Arctic training”. It is not rare to see someone in uniform walking around or hanging out at the bars nor is it rare to see ginormous military ships in the harbor. I never really thought about it until the other day when I saw a massive British boat called the HMS Illustrious (R06), which has a capacity to carry almost 700 people and 22 aircrafts. It was unbelievably huge and I watched as 5 big black helicopters flew around it while training. It was just really interesting to observe. I also saw the Norwegian Army’s “Skjold class patrol boats” which are the fastest armed craft in the world (they can read 110km/hr… second only the Canadas Unarmed craft that can go up to 116km/hr). Anyways, just some ramblings.