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National service is a common name for mandatory government service programmes (usually military service, also known as conscription). The term became common British usage during and for some years following the Second World War. Many young people spent one or more years in such programmes. Compulsory military service typically requires all citizens, or all male citizens, to participate for a period of a year (or more in some countries) during their youth, usually at some point between the age of 18 and their late twenties.
See also 
By country