Tue, Jul 09, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Ministry, Tsai hit back at Han over army comments

‘POOR GRASP’:The share of volunteers in the military has been increasing and is expected to hit 90 percent this year, the Ministry of National Defense said

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

President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a visit to New Taipei City yesterday.

Photo: Lai Hsiao-tung, Taipei Times

The nation’s military is already a mixed force of volunteers and conscripts, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday, after Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) proposed something to that effect.

In an interview with the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) published yesterday, Han said the government’s military policy has failed to provide the armed forces with adequate troops and that conscription should be maintained to supplement the volunteer force.

The military wanted 1,476 non-commissioned officer cadets for 2017, but the number of recruits was in the single digits, Han was quoted as saying.

The ministry in a statement said that the military fields a mixed volunteer-conscript force as stipulated by government policy and the Constitution.

The purpose of recruiting volunteers is to create a long-serving, highly motivated and experienced core of a modern fighting force of appropriate size, high quality and powerful capabilities, it said.

Conscripts serve four months in the military and are incorporated into the military reserve, which would be mobilized in the event of a war to bolster the standing forces, it said.

As the income and living standards of military personnel improves, the share of volunteers in the armed forces has grown from 77.06 percent in 2016 to 84.33 percent this year, with a retention rate of 75 percent, it said, adding that the share is expected to rise to 90 percent next year.

The annual Han Kuang military exercises this year proved that the volunteer force is well-trained and has improved the military’s defense capabilities, it said, urging the public to support the nation’s military policy and capabilities.

Separately yesterday, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Han has a poor grasp of military recruitment in the nation.

There is no shortage of troops and the size of the military has surpassed the minimum called for by military requirements, while the long service terms of volunteers is beneficial to professional training, she said.

Furthermore, volunteers who leave military service would bring valuable skills to boost economic growth, she said, adding: “Mayor Han’s observations are incorrect.”

Additional reporting by Lai Hsiao-tung

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