The Ministry of National Defense late on Tuesday said its policy to phase out conscription and implement an all-volunteer military would be postponed again, as recruitment targets could not be met.
The plan to abolish the conscription system is to be pushed back at least to the end of next year, though it would still depend on the number of voluntary enlistments and other conditions at that time.
Critics and media called the postponement an embarrassing setback for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九); another “bounced check” among many promises Ma has made.
Establishing an all-volunteer military, consisting entirely of career soldiers, is considered one of Ma’s most important pledges and seen as an important test of fulfilling major government policies in his second term.
A total of 23,100 people, males aged 18 or over, would be affected by the postponement, according to the ministry’s announcement.
“Conscription is needed to cope with hostile threats from the enemy, escalating tensions in the region, the need for high combat readiness among the armed forces, and to effectively respond to disaster rescue and relief, and other emergencies,” the statement said.
According to officials, the ministry said Ma was informed of situation at a recent top-level military meeting, and the Cabinet approved the decision.
Ministry officials said compulsory military training is still in effect for males born after Jan. 1, 1994, who are still required to undergo four months of basic military training.
This is the second time that the ministry has pushed back its implementation of an all-volunteer military after not being able to meet its targets.
In September 2013, the ministry said the date would be pushed back two years because of recruitment difficulties and other situations among the branches of the armed forces.
In the original plan, the armed forces were scheduled to end compulsory military service for males born before Jan. 1, 1994, starting from Jan. 1 next year.
Tuesday’s statement marked an abrupt reversal, as the ministry announced just last month that shifting from conscription to an all-volunteer force was on track and it had reached 71 percent of its recruitment goal for the year, due to improved stipends and other incentives.
According to a high-ranking ministry official, as Taiwan is facing many “complicated circumstances and new challenges both internally and externally,” and as the situation is constantly changing, next year’s date could be pushed back again.
National conscription might even be kept, the official said.
“It will depend on adjusting to contingencies and new situations next year,” he added.
Presidential Office spokesperson Charles Chen (陳以信) said the military is on a “combined conscription and volunteer force,” and as such is not implementing an “all-volunteer force.”
“Due to false expectations, created when the term ‘all-volunteer force’ began to be used, it is not the case — as media reports have said — that this is a ‘bounced check on the all-volunteer force promise,’” Chen said.
“It was never the case,” he said.
Additional reporting by Wang Yu-chung
ORDER OF 66 JETS: Delivering the F-16s faster and enabling Taiwan to develop its fleet into one of the biggest in Asia would be based on ‘risk assessment,’ one official said The US is looking for ways to accelerate delivery of Taiwan’s next generation of newly built F-16 jets, US officials said, bolstering the Taiwanese air force’s ability to respond to what Taipei and Washington see as increasing intimidation by the Chinese military. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that they have not yet come up with a solution on how to speed up delivery of Block 70 F-16s, manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp and equipped with new capabilities. The aircraft are slated to be delivered by the end of 2026. Taipei has privately expressed its wish for a faster delivery
‘STIRRING CONFLICT’: Chinese content farms use hundreds of fake accounts to reach ‘every corner of society,’ an official at the Investigation Bureau said China is conducting disinformation campaigns that involve more than 400 fake accounts targeting Taiwanese on social media, the Investigation Bureau said on Friday. China is trying to infiltrate social media, Internet forums and online chatrooms that are popular among Taiwanese to subvert the public’s trust in the government, destabilize society and meddle in elections, the bureau said. Since it started tracing fake accounts and disinformation to Chinese content farms in April last year, the Information and Communication Security Division investigated 2,773 such cases, the bureau said. It has forwarded 174 cases to prosecutors, who have listed 234 people as suspects, the bureau added. An
SEARCHING LINKS: While targeted testing added cases to existing clusters, new cases were linked to the Taipei Grand Hotel and an Yilan hotel, Chen Shih-chung said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 52 local COVID-19 cases, including 30 linked to Taoyuan businesses and 15 linked to Kaohsiung Harbor. The remaining seven cases include a cluster of four — three family members and a friend — in Taipei and New Taipei City, two cases linked to a Tasty Steak (西堤牛排) restaurant in Taoyuan’s Jhongli District (中壢) and one case in Yilan County, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. As 70 cases were on Friday and Saturday reported among workers at Askey Computer Corp (亞旭) in Taoyuan’s Farglory Free Trade Zone
SHOW OF FORCE: Incursions of 39 Chinese warplanes on Sunday and 13 yesterday were likely in response to US-Japan exercises off Okinawa, military analysts said China on Sunday sent 39 warplanes — mostly fighter jets — into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), in its second-largest single-day incursion, the Ministry of National Defense said. Thirteen warplanes entered the zone yesterday, it added. The ministry late on Sunday said that the air force scrambled aircraft to broadcast warnings and deployed air-defense missile systems. The Chinese warplanes included 24 J-16 fighters — which experts say are among China’s favorite jets for testing Taiwan’s air defenses — 10 J-10s and one nuclear-capable H-6 bomber. Yesterday’s incursion included eight J-16s and two J-16Ds — a jet introduced at an air show last year