Tue, Aug 24, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Volunteer force is still the goal: defense ministry

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of National Defense yesterday said it had not changed its goal of turning the military into an all-volunteer force by 2015, following reports that the Executive Yuan had requested it review the plan because of a budget shortfall.

The ministry has gradually increased the total number of volunteer military personnel since 2004, to fulfill the policy of an all-volunteer force by 2015.

The Chinese-language United Daily News reported that given the Executive Yuan’s decision to lower the share of GDP set aside for defense next year to 2.6 percent — the third cut in as many years — the military would be unable to afford more volunteer soldiers. Consequently, the Executive Yuan had requested the military review the policy.

Although the military planned to cut military personnel from 275,000 to 215,000 by 2015, the Executive Yuan wanted the military to cut another 6,000 to 8,000 jobs to save money, the paper said.

The report said the Executive Yuan and the military were at odds on the policy, with the latter saying that forgoing the plan would mean President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) would be breaking a campaign promise to achieve a professional military.

When asked for comment, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators appeared to turn the tables on the military and accused it of dragging its feet.

“A budget shortfall amid efforts to create an all-volunteer force is not news,” KMT Legislator Shuai Hua-ming (帥化民), a military expert, told reporters.

The ministry has yet to propose force redeployment and organizational adjustment plans in line with the volunteer program, Shuai said.

KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said creating a professional military represented significant reform, but if the military establishment was not ready for it, postponing the project would be a good thing.

Also See: ANALYSIS: Ma walking tightrope in cross-strait relations, analysts say

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