Tue, Dec 28, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Ministry begins drive for an all-volunteer military

NEW RECRUITS It's a time of reform for the nation's armed forces, with plans to professionalize the bulk of defense personnel set to commence in the new year

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The military is set to implement major reforms from next month, with the Ministry of National Defense gradually increasing the total number of volunteer military personnel in an attempt to turn the nation's forces into an all-volunteer military.

"From now on, we will have more and more volunteer soldiers. In the future, all of our army and air force sergeants, as well as navy petty officers, will be selected from outstanding examples of these volunteer soldiers," said navy Captain Liou Chih-chien (劉志堅), a spokesman for the ministry.

The ministry said it is planning to recruit 6,561 volunteer soldiers, including at least 90 women, from next month. Those interested in a military career should apply to the ministry between Jan. 31 and Feb. 4. Successful applicants must serve in the military for at least three years.

Eligible applicants include reservists and soldiers who are currently doing their two-year compulsory military service.

Volunteers can apply via two channels. Senior high school or vocational school graduates aged 25 and under who have been doing compulsory military service for one month can take qualifying tests to determine if they are suited to a career in the military.

Senior high school or vocational school graduates who have completed mandatory military service and are younger than 26 can also apply to take the qualifying tests.

Because of the increased number of volunteer soldiers, the ministry will phase out recruitment of non-commissioned officers, including air force and army sergeants and naval petty officers.

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 will be able to take tests to become volunteer non-commissioned officers.

Initially, however, the salaries for volunteers will fall short of those available in the business sector.

According to the ministry, a volunteer soldier will be ranked as a private and will receive a starting salary of NT$27,105 plus benefits, including insurance and subsidies for home expenses. Those who do special types of work will receive additional income. A submariner, for instance, will be able to earn additional pay to a maximum of NT$12,000 per month.

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

In the meantime, the ministry will phase out non-volunteers. The ministry is also planning to increase the number of female soldiers across different units, including combat units.

Males who are physically and mentally healthy must serve two years in the military or three years in fields related to their academic or professional backgrounds.

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