Tue, Jan 25, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Mandatory military service to be gradually shortened

CONSCRIPTION From July 1, Taiwanese men will only have to perform military service for a year and a half. The term will be reduced to one year from 2008

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Executive Yuan announced that the compulsory military service term for men will be shortened to a year and a half from July 1, and to one year from 2008.

"Taiwan's military has been moving from reliance on conscription to a volunteer basis. By 2008, volunteer recruits will comprise 60 percent of the total military manpower, while 40 percent will still be conscripts," Vice Minister of National Defense Tsai Ming-hsien (蔡明憲) said at the Executive Yuan.

The compulsory military service term is currently a year and 10 months. By 2008, reservists will be released from military obligations at age of 35, Tsai said.

Men are currently compelled to perform military service until they turn 40.

To encourage people to volunteer for military service, the Ministry of National Defense will raise volunteers' monthly salary to about NT$35,000 and offer good pensions when soldiers retire, Tsai said. In addition, the ministry is planning to provide volunteers with training in a range of professional skills, he added.

Although offering higher salaries would attract a higher number of outstanding volunteers and increase the level of professionalism in the military, this would be difficult if the overall size of the armed forces is not reduced, Tsai said.

Taiwan now has 375,000 people in serving in the military. This number will be reduced to 275,000 by 2008.

The Military Service Law (兵役法) requires all males in Taiwan over the age of 18 to fulfill military service. Every year, about 140,000 young men are drafted.

The Ministry of National Defense last month announced a series of reforms to increase the number of volunteers to eventually comprise half of the military's manpower, reduce the term of compulsory service and reduce the size of the armed forces.

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