The number of generals in the military will be trimmed by 101 by early 2015, Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) said yesterday.
Fielding questions at the Legislative Yuan’s National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, Kao said that the country now has 393 generals out of a total of about 200,000 military personnel and that the number will be reduced to 292 in line with government efforts to streamline the armed forces.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) questioned why Taiwan maintains a higher ratio of generals to total military officers than the US, saying the ratio is 0.76 percent in Taiwan at present, compared with 0.43 percent in the US in 2007.
In response, Kao said that the 101 generals to be trimmed are all under the jurisdiction of his ministry and that “there is still room” for a further reduction in the number of high-ranking officers, as many generals work for other agencies, including the Presidential Office, the Coast Guard Administration, the National Security Bureau and the Ministry of Education.
Under the plan, the total number of servicemen will also be reduced to 215,000, down from the present 235,000, as Taiwan recruits more professional soldiers to replace its conscripts.
At present, all men aged over 20 are conscripted to spend a year in the armed forces.
Taiwan’s relatively large army is a legacy of decades of tension with China, which threatens to annex Taiwan by force if necessary.
Although cross-strait ties have improved since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was elected in 2008 on a promise to boost cross-strait trade and tourism, tensions remain and the most prominent symbol of the lingering hostility is the more than 1,600 Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan.
Taipei has said that despite the planned cut in troop numbers, the ability of the armed forces to defend Taiwan will not be impaired in any way as it aims to make up for the smaller force with a renewed emphasis on military efficiency.