Fri, Jul 04, 2003 - Page 4 News List

One-star general posts to be left vacant

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of National Defense began enforcing on Tuesday a personnel management rule which will prevent more than 20 positions for one-star general from being filled once they become vacant, defense sources said yesterday.

The rule, an administrative order, is part of the ministry's personnel streamlining efforts.

The plan will push colonels and captains who had the chance to become one-star generals into early retirement.

These officers will not be the only ones affected by the new rule. Lower-ranking personnel will also have fewer opportunities for promotions.

A defense source said the rule is illegal because it deprives the president of the right to appoint military officials to the rank of general.

"The rule is purely the brainchild of a few people in the ministry. The 20-something one-star general posts which have been vacant or will become vacant should be filled, since they have not been eliminated," the source said.

"The ministry's unilateral decision to stop these positions from being filled has sparked much criticism in the military. They argue that the ministry should have consulted its subordinate units before making the decision," he said.

"It is also strange that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) allowed such a thing to happen. Does it mean that he has given up his control of the military?" the source asked.

National Defense University Commandant General Chen Cheng-hsiang (陳鎮湘) was said to have played a key role in the shaping of the new rule. Chen Cheng-hsiang is an outspoken critic in the military of President Chen and the DPP. He is considered a likely choice for minister of defense if the blue camp wins next year's presidential election.

The air force is seen as the biggest loser, since among the 20-some positions to be left unoccupied, it claims six.

The new rule is scheduled to last for one to two years, during which time dozens of colonels and captains who are qualified to become one-star generals will have no choice but to retire early.

These officials could choose to wait, but it would make lower-ranking officials suffer since their path for promotion will be blocked by the more senior officers.

To prevent this, the ministry has decided to increase time it takes to be promoted. Those between the rank of major and colonel now need to wait an additional two years to be able to rise in rank.

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