Thu, Aug 03, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Noncommissioned officers to get fast-track promotion

By Aaron Tu and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Ministry of National Defense on Tuesday said it is implementing a fast-track promotion program for noncommissioned officers (NCO), with the goal of filling 1,000 positions.

Speaking at the ministry’s regular news conference, Colonel Tan Yung (譚勇), deputy chief of personnel of the General Staff, said the military is filling only 54 percent of billets for first and second lieutenants.

Serving NCOs interested in becoming an officer must apply for an entry test for the 32-week officer corps training course alongside college degree holders, Tan said.

The system has not produced enough junior officers and only about 80 NCOs had been promoted between 2013 and last year, prompting the military to promulgate the fast-track program on June 27, he said.

The ministry expects the new program to increase staffing rates of nominal positions for lieutenants to 60 percent, he said.

To qualify for the program, NCOs with a college degree are required to serve at least three years at a rank higher than when enlisted, while the service requirement for NCOs with a graduate degree has been lowered to one year, Tan said.

The NCOs must receive an A or above in performance evaluations for three years, have no negative marks less than a demerit, meet fitness requirements with no substitutes used for any physical tests and have an IQ score of at least 100, he said.

NCOs meeting those standards need to be recommended by a commanding officer who is a colonel or above. If selected they would be sent to a 10-week officer’s training course, Tan said.

However, NCOs who want to become commissioned officers in a branch other than their current field are required to attend the full 32-week officer’s training, he said.

The application process for this year is open until the end of this month, Tan said.

Tan said the ministry firmly believes that high-performing NCOs meeting the intellectual and physical standards and with a recommendation from commanding officers would in no way reduce the quality of leadership in the armed forces.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ma Wen-chun (馬文君) said he disapproved of the measure, because the military should not attempt to meet its need for junior officers at the expense of its existing NCOs.

“This policy has failed to address the fundamental issues affecting the military. Not only is the military digging up one wall to repair another, but it is putting the overall quality of the armed forces at risk. This policy is just window dressing of government statistics. The government should have conducted a comprehensive review of the military’s structure, with a focus on utilizing workforce from outside the military,” he said.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱) said the program is a stop-gap measure, but is inappropriate because the military should restructure, adding that the primary source of officers should be school-trained officer cadets.

The military has yet to reconsider its distribution of tasks and duties between general officers and junior officers, Chung said, urging the armed forces to reduce the burden of junior officers.

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