Mon, Feb 05, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Lawmaker tackles Chungshan problem

MILITARY EXODUS:A former chief weapons engineer said the loss of military graduates at the nation’s defense technology research institute could hurt local weapons programs

By Aaron Tu  /  Staff reporter

Addressing a problematic talent shortage at the nation’s top defense research body, the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, which was spun off as a semi-private organization in 2014, could require changing the law, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) said on Saturday.

After the institute was changed from a division of the Ministry of National Defense’s Armaments Bureau into a “semicommercial corporation” in June 2014, technology officers who led research and development work at the institute have gradually left, Wang said.

On the one hand, former employees found themselves with no place to go, while on the other, the institute had to hire people from other sectors of society, driving up personnel costs and increasing the security burden, Wang said.

“In light of the situation, I plan to draw up an amendment during the next legislative session after talking to the research institute, in the hope of bringing back the technology officers without effecting too many structural changes,” Wang said.

Prior to the transition, graduates from the National Defense University’s Chung Cheng Institute of Technology (CCIT) had a choice of going straight to work at the Chungshan Institute or spending some time in the military to build up experience.

However, due to ongoing military reforms, posts at the institute designed for military officers or civil servants have been left empty, preventing talented CCIT students from putting their skills to good use at the Chungshan Institute.

The situation does not bode well for President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) plans to increase Taiwan’s self-reliance in defense technology and develop submarines domestically, a source with knowledge of the matter said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The programs require a high level of confidentiality — that is why the exit of technology officers who possess technological expertise, as well as military training, is not conducive to our defense technology development,” the source said, adding that there have been calls within the military to relax rules.

Chang Cheng (張誠), a former chief engineer for the locally developed Hsiung Feng III (“Brave Wind”) supersonic anti-ship missile, in January last year wrote an opinion piece in local media to draw attention to the situation.

CCIT graduates used to be the Chungshan Institute’s most stable and trustworthy group of researchers, Chang said.

They have received four years of military training and have internalized knowledge about the nation’s defense needs by the time they arrive at the institute, Chang added.

The effects of the talent shortage would be felt within 10 years, Chang said.

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