Tue, Mar 29, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Ma’s all-volunteer military campaign promise set to be broken over funding

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) campaign promise to create an all-volunteer military within four to six years could be broken as the government is having financial difficulties, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said yesterday.

Citing “budget difficulties,” Wu told reporters after a meeting on the subject with Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of the Interior officials that there could be a delay in the plan to replace conscription with an all-volunteer military by 2015.

“We have not decided on which year to abolish conscription, as financial difficulties will make it difficult to sustain a professional military,” he said.

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Ma promised he would implement an all-volunteer military service within four to six years.

On Wednesday last week, Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) told the legislature that plans for a fully professional military had been postponed by a year, but added there would be no further delay.

GRADUAL PHASING OUT

Wu said the administration would maintain its plan to gradually phase out the conscription system and increase the percentage of voluntary military personnel as the country could only maintain its defense capabilities by recruiting high-quality personnel specialized in sophisticated weapons use in an environment where technology has changed the nature of war.

“We will not engage in an arms race with China, but to maintain our self-defense capabilities, we have to pursue the objective of a refined military. Despite the rapprochement in cross-strait relations, we can’t base our national security on China’s goodwill,” Wu said.

Part of the funds needed to support an all-volunteer armed service could be collected from the disposal of land and camps held by the military, but left idle for years, Wu said, adding that he had asked Vice Premier Sean Chen to study the possibility.

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