Mon, Oct 12, 2009 - Page 8 News List

The military’s role in disaster time

By Liu Kung-chung 劉孔中

They are therefore unable to directly offer manpower to disaster work when needed. Requests for assistance still need to be transferred to other troops, which hampers the timeliness of disaster efforts.

Therefore, representatives of the armed forces with decision-making powers and resources at their disposal should act as committee members on disaster prevention and protection councils.

The Military Service Act (兵役法) governs the mobilization of reserve and replacement soldiers. It states that there are five types of mobilization — general, temporary, educational, regular-task and roll-call.

However, the armed forces sometimes lack personnel during disaster prevention and protection efforts.

I suggest that regulations be amended to empower the authorities to mobilize extra personnel for regular tasks pertinent to disaster work and that the restrictions of Article 37 of the Military Service Act not apply to the authorities in this case.

Lastly, Article 34, Paragraph 4 of the Disaster Prevention and Protection Act states that only regional governments and the central disaster prevention and protection authorities may request support from the armed forces for disaster work.

But when incidents are so serious that local emergency operations centers cannot make formal requests in time or when the central authorities themselves are compromised by damage resulting from the disaster, the armed forces should not have to wait for requests or go through levels of procedure before being allowed to dispatch troops and provide assistance.

Those involved with such assistance should, however, continue to report to their superiors according to the established chain of command so that personnel numbers can be monitored, thus allowing more adaptability in disaster work.

Liu Kung-chung is a professor in the Institute of Law for Science and Technology at National Tsing Hua University.


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