In the next couple of months, Ukraine will introduce a pilot program for “smart mobilization” -starting with drone operators — where Ukrainians can sign up for certain roles and units if they want to join the military, according to Deputy Prime Minister for Innovation, Education, Science and Technology Development Mykhailo Fedorov.

“[The] person chooses whether they want to be a drone operator or serve in a strike drone company. He can [apply to] be a sapper, a driver, all positions will be available,” said Fedorov in an interview with RBC-Ukraine.

According to the tech guru, this aims to reassure Ukrainians who want to serve but are concerned about being mobilized into certain roles and units. Fedorov also said that this is not strictly a mobilization program, but rather an incentive for Ukrainians to join the military.

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This does not mean the person will join the unit directly, as the candidate still needs to go through selection and training once they choose a specific role and unit.

Some Ukrainians remain skeptical of the initiative. Mariia, whose father was mobilized earlier this year, had little faith in the system and its implementation.

“It’s a nice idea but it won’t work,” she said. “They are not even teaching people before sending them somewhere. My father waited four months to be [sent] to another department and that never happened.”

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According to the First Deputy Defense Minister, more than 90,000 Russian troops, stationed well within Russian territory, were preparing for a new attack at that time.

Mariia added that more popular units — such as drone operations and air defense — will likely receive more applications than less desired roles, creating a shortage of other needed personnel.

Oleksandr, an active serviceman on the eastern front, shared a similar sentiment.

“They won’t put it into practice and they’ll just spend money on it,” said Oleksandr. “Those who wanted to fight are already fighting, no procedures will soften the attitude of the masses towards mobilization.”

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Mikhail, a courier in Kyiv, said the initiative is good as Ukrainians might reconsider enlisting if they could choose what they want to do. However, he also raised a question on the effectiveness of the new initiative, saying that if he is to be sent to the hotly contested fronts it would still make little sense to him to join the armed forces.

Yuriy, who works in the IT industry, saw little difference between the new system and the existing process of volunteering, and that calling it “mobilization” can be misleading.

“[...] This is in my mind equivalent to volunteering,” he said. “The person wanting to get into the army submits a request, and gets dibs on the military specialization they want.”

However, he believes that as the program grows and if the initiative is given proper publicity, it could increase the number of people voluntarily becoming drone operators or other specialists.

At the moment, how authorities plan to implement the system remains unclear. There also remain unresolved legal and regulatory issues with the program, according to Fedorov, but authorities will test the program and evaluate its effectiveness.

According to an earlier Kyiv Post report, Ukraine aimed to close a loophole that allows Ukrainians to avoid conscription by enrolling in a higher education course. At the moment, general mobilization lasts until Nov. 15 and is likely to be extended.

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