Wed, Nov 05, 2003 - Page 4 News List

MND issues clarification

CNA , TAIPEI

The first wave of reservists who would be called up for active duty in the event of war across the Taiwan Strait would be under 40 years of age, especially those who had completed their compulsory military service within the last eight years, said defense ministry spokesman Major General Huang Suey-sheng (黃穗生) yesterday.

Huang was correcting remarks made by Vice Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) during a meeting of the legislature's defense committee on Monday.

During that meeting, opposition legislators expressed concern that President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) recent call for a new constitution for Taiwan for 2006, to be implemented in 2008, could provoke an attack from China. They asked if Taiwan's military had a combat plan to thwart such an attack during that period.

Chen Chao-min had said on Monday that in the event of war, those under the age of 45, particularly those who had concluded their mandatory military service within the last eight years, would be the first to be called up.

The vice defense minister had also said that their calculations indicated that 128,000 reservists would have to be called up in the initial stage of a conflict.

Yesterday, legislators asked if Chen Chao-min had meant that the defense ministry expected heavy casualties in the first wave of an attack by the People's Republic of China.

Huang said the number of reservists was only a "research figure" based on analysis of past conflicts, and should not be interpreted as the defense ministry's assessment of losses in the first wave of an engagement with an enemy.

According to the law relating to military service, Huang said, every conscript becomes a reservist after being discharged from the military, and is formally decommissioned after reaching 40.

"The exact number of reservists to be called up will be in line with the needs of battle," he said, without going into further detail.

Regarding professional soldiers, the law stipulates that non-commissioned and company grade officers will no longer be eligible to be called up for active service at 50. For field grade officers the age is 58, he said.

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