The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday rebutted a Chinese-language media report saying that the nation’s military would be downgraded to a self-defense force similar to the Japanese Self-Defense Forces in light of the military’s continued downsizing.
The ministry said in a statement yesterday that the military is planning to cut its personnel to 215,000 by the end of this year, adding that the number would be sufficient to protect the country.
The statement cited President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as saying on Thursday that if the armed forces number about 0.6 or 0.7 percent of the nation’s total population, he remains confident that the military would be large enough to protect the nation.
The statement quoted Ma as saying that from a global perspective, the moderate downsizing has left a still relatively large military and has not diminished its ability to maintain strategic objectives of strong defense and effective deterrence.
The military is working toward becoming “small and elite; small and skilled; and small and strong,” which matches the global trend of military thinking — quality is more important than quantity, the statement quoted Ma as saying.
The ministry added that the Cabinet has approved a NT$3,127 billion (US$10.42 billion) annual budget for defense this year, the same amount as last year.
Although the Legislative Yuan cut the budget to NT$3,111 billion, the Cabinet has pledged to allocate more funds to the military should a significant arms procurement program be approved in the future.