A volunteer Marine Corps unit displayed its amphibious combat capabilities during a drill in Greater Kaohsiung yesterday, an exercise aimed at bringing positive publicity to the military’s shift to an all-volunteer force.
Members of the First Infantry Company of the First Infantry Battalion under the Marine Corps’ 99th Brigade landed on a beachfront at the Tsoying Naval Base in three inflatable boats before engaging in a simulated urban warfare attack.
The marine infantry company, which became an all-volunteer unit in April, will be honored as one of the military’s model groups of the year at a ceremony in Taipei on Friday.
The drill, the first by an all-volunteer unit that was open to the media, came at a time of growing concern over the military’s transition to an all-volunteer force, especially as recruitment lags far behind established targets.
Military officials used the occasion to highlight the benefits of volunteer forces.
They said that because the members of the experimental Marine Corps unit serve a minimum of four years, they are able to undergo more rigorous training than conscripts who do only a year of compulsory service.
The death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), who collapsed and died on July 4 following confinement and strenuous exercise in extreme heat, sparked widespread public protests and tarnished the military’s image and morale.