Wed, Dec 15, 2004 - Page 4 News List

MND seeking to expand role of volunteer soldiers

CNA , Taipei

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday it will greatly expand recruitment of volunteers in the military starting next year with the aim of reversing the present conscript-volunteer ratio of 60-to-40 by 2008.

Speaking at a press conference, Wu Kuo-sheng (吳國勝), a MND division chief in charge of manpower planning, said the ministry plans to recruit a total of 45,000 volunteer soldiers between next year and 2008. In next year alone, Wu said the MND expects to recruit 6,561 volunteer soldiers of both sexes.

Volunteers can apply via two channels, Wu said. Senior high school or vocational school graduates aged 25 and under who have been enlisted for mandatory military service for one month can take part in qualification tests which would determine if an applicant is right for a career in the military. Also, senior high school or vocational school graduates who have completed mandatory military service in three years and are aged under 26 years old can also apply to take qualification tests.

In connection with the increased recruitment of volunteer soldiers, the MND will phase out recruitment of non-commissioned officers starting next year.

All non-commissioned officers will now be promoted from the ranks of volunteers. All privates who have been in the military for one-and-a-half years can apply to take tests to become volunteer non-commissioned officers. In the initial stage, salaries for volunteers will still fall short of the level seen in the business sector. Basic monthly pay for privates will range between NT$27,105 and NT$29,870 depending on experience. They can also get additional pay in terms of special types of work and service areas. Those who work aboard submarines can get a maximum additional pay of NT$12,000 per month.

Volunteers who have served for more than three years can receive a pension of at least NT$130,000. If they serve as non-commissioned officers and remain in the military for 20 years, they will be entitled to receive a monthly pension for the rest of their lives.

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