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Dozens of thousands of young soldiers across Vietnam have departed for their 18 months of obligatory military service, in compliance with the country's new, stricter regulations.

The Ministry of Defense collaborated with the Ministry of Education and Training to introduce stricter regulations on postponements and exemptions from compulsory military service during peacetime, which take effect on March 7. 

Among those who joined the army during this year's first enlistment period were 2,200 Ho Chi Minh City residents, 24 percent of which have graduated from universities or colleges. The young men hail from 12 of the city's 24 districts, including Districts 3, 5, 9, Go Vap and Thu Duc.

The soldiers will be allocated to various units of the army, police and firefighting departments.

The central province of Quang Ngai on February 27 also saw off 1,300 new soldiers from Binh Son, Ly Son, Mo Duc, Son Tay and Tu Nghia Districts and Quang Ngai City, including 112 university or college graduates.

More than 300 young men from Vietnam's ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum also joined the military on the same day.

According to a Tuoi Tre report, roughly 2,500 new soldiers from 16 districts in the capital city of Hanoi, 67 percent of which had at least completed high school, joined the military during the first phase of enlistment.

Nguyen Minh Hoang, a Hanoi resident who joined the army told VnExpress: "My luggage only has some clothes and private items prepared by my uncle. I will not bring my cell phone because I want to completely separate from my parents, relatives and family's protection to be trained."

Under Vietnamese law, all men between the ages of 18 and 25 must serve in the national army.

Students enrolled in school at any level in Vietnam, or those enrolled in programs abroad which are at least one year, are allowed to delay their military service until they complete their current studies.

According to the amended law, any male students who are concurrently drafted by local military units and have been accepted to universities or colleges must fulfill their military obligations first. 

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