Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) said yesterday that career soldiers would completely replace conscripts by the end of 2014.
Chen told the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee that the process would begin in 2011, while 10 percent of career soldiers would fill up the vacancies left by those who have completed compulsory military service.
All vacancies will be completely filled by the end of 2014 by following the plan.
Chen said more details of the schedule would be proposed to the legislature for review in June.
Individuals wishing to join the military would need high school education at minimum, Chen said.
In addition, people scheduled for their one-year compulsory military service would only have to go through a four-month military boot camp, he said.
Meanwhile, a Defense Ministry official said yesterday that Taiwan was working on creating a think tank to coordinate contacts with the Chinese military.
The official’s comments followed last week’s assertion by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) that Beijing was ready to hold talks with Taiwan on political and military issues aimed at ending hostility between the two sides.
The official said the purpose of the new liaison organization would be to build mutual trust with the Chinese military “on a step by step basis.”
He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
“We want to establish a think tank to reduce the unsafe factors in relations between the sides,” he said, without elaborating.
Meanwhile, Kyodo News Agency reported yesterday that the defense ministry had earmarked an initial US$230 million to buy 60 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the US amid fresh indications the US Congress will likely approve the deal.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AP
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