The Ministry of National Defense yesterday said it is on track to meet its recruitment target for career soldiers, in line with the government’s plan to turn the armed forces into an all-volunteer service by 2016.
There has been a steady growth in the number of young people applying to military academies to become professional soldiers and officers in recent years, said General Liu Jing-zhong (劉靖中), director of the ministry’s Human Resources Division.
Liu said that from the start of the year to this month, 28,502 men and women signed up for the volunteer training program, from which the ministry recruited 11,970 individuals — exceeding its target of 10,557 for the whole year.
Liu made the pronouncement following reports that the military has had problems recruiting people, sparking concern that the nation would not be able to maintain a sufficient fighting force to defend itself.
“Streamlining the nation’s military has been ongoing, and changes were made with new incentives and complementary measures,” Liu said.
“Thus, more young people are willing to pursue a military career,” he added.
As of the first week of this month, the total number of volunteers reached more than 32,000, the general said.
With the number growing steadily, the government’s plan to terminate the compulsory military service program and replace it with an all-volunteer force of professional soldiers should be achievable by the end of 2016, he said.
Liu added that it would not be necessary to recruit foreign soldiers, because the nation has a sufficiently large military force that is combat-ready and able to carry out all of the tasks it has been mandated to do.
He was responding to a proposal by Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Chou Ni-an (周倪安), who last week said that if a shortage in the military could not be filled, the ministry could recruit sub-Saharan Africans to form a mercenary force to prepare for wartime combat.
The general said that the military would not recruit foreign mercenaries from Africa or anywhere else, because the nation’s soldiers must be Republic of China citizens and fulfill household registration and other legal requirements.
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