Wed, May 24, 2017 - Page 3 News List

More junior military officers urged

AMENDMENTS:The Act of Military Service for Officers and Noncommissioned Officers of the Armed Forces is a major cause of the lack of junior officers, three DPP lawmakers said

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday proposed amendments to the Act of Military Service for Officers and Noncommissioned Officers of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍軍士官服役條例) to provide better salary packages for junior officers and to extend their service terms to 20 years to address the shortage of junior officers.

“A strong military to defend our nation is more than just about having weapons. It matters more that there are competent soldiers and officers who have the necessary training and are capable of doing their jobs well,” DPP Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) said.

Wang, along with colleagues Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) and Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應), said the shortage of first and second lieutenants in the army and their equivalent ranks in the air force and the navy challenges the effectiveness of the nation’s armed forces.

“Junior officers in the army, and those in other military branches are the most important leaders in the basic units of the armed forces. However, there is an insufficient number of these officers and this has undermined the combat strength of our nation’s military,” Wang said.

In the army, captains usually take charge of a company, which consists of three platoons, while a first or second lieutenant leads a platoon of about 30 soldiers.

Citing Ministry of National Defense statistics, Wang said that only 14,756, or 70 percent, of the 21,174 junior officer positions available have been filled.

The stipulations of the act are a main cause of the shortage, the DPP lawmakers said.

Under its provisions, there is a 10-year limit to the service terms for first and second lieutenants, while for a captain the maximum period of service is 10 years, meaning that such officers must be promoted to a higher rank within that time period, the DPP lawmakers said.

“If they do not gain promotion, then they are forced to retire from active service and go into civilian life. However, the regulations stipulate that military officers can only receive pensions when they have served at least 20 years in the armed forces,” Wang said.

“We know many junior officers are forced to quit the military, as they were not promoted to higher ranks after serving 15 years. They do not receive their full pensions when that happens, so they have to take up new jobs, despite already being in their 30s and 40s,” he said.

“To address the shortage of junior officers, we plan to introduce amendments that would extend a captain’s maximum service term to 20 years, while the terms for first and second lieutenants would be extended to 15 years. This and other measures would enable more such officers to remain in service, so they could continue to provide leadership and provide training to the soldiers in their charge,” Wang said.

A draft bill for the amendments is to be introduced at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee on which Wang, Lo and Tsai have seats on.

“We hope to also boost the subsidies for field duties and other combat roles from NT$8,000 to NT10,000 for junior officers, which would supplement their basic pay and bring their salaries into line with higher-ranking officers,” Tsai said.

All the military branches have evaluation procedures to root out people who are not qualified or have breached regulations, therefore the proposed extended service term would not lead to unqualified junior officers staying on too long in their jobs, he said.

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