Mon, Jul 28, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Military-service term to be shortened

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The compulsory military service term will be shortened to one year within five years, marking the greatest change in the conscription system in decades, defense sources said yesterday.

As the service term is to be shortened drastically, the military will enhance at the same time the training of reserve troops, aiming to keep them ready for combat until they are relieved of their duty of defending the country at the age of 40.

It means that reserve troops, conscripts who have served out their compulsory-service term, would receive more recalls for training in the future.

The service term for conscripts has been changed several times during the past two decades but not to such a great extent as the one in five years' time.

The term was three years before the 1980s and was later shortened to two years, staying like that until the late 1990s.

It was first reduced to one year and ten months three years ago. Starting from next year, it will be shortened by two more months.

The DPP is playing a large role in the reduction of the military service term for conscripts, making it one of its first and most important defense policy priorities.

The Ministry of National Defense was initially reluctant to cooperate, but changed its mind after the DPP came into power three years ago.

Over the past three years, the ministry has carefully studied defense reforms proposed by the DPP and is starting to move in directions it used to reject.

The one-year service term, though not initiated by the defense ministry, is now policy that must be enforced before 2008.

The ministry worried at first that shortening the service term would weaken the strength of the armed forces.

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