The military is working on measures to help it achieve its goal of recruiting enough soldiers for this year ahead of the government’s plan to turn the military into an all-volunteer force by 2016, a military spokesman said on Tuesday.
Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said the ministry would work with related agencies to promote recruitment and other complementary measures to persuade more young people to join the military.
Colonel Hu Chung-shih (胡仲適), who is in charge of military recruitment, said that the ministry aimed to recruit 15,311 people last year, but only managed to enroll 11,069, or 72 percent of its target. The goal for this year is to recruit 28,531, but in five rounds of tests so far, it has been successful in getting only 4,290.
Major General Pai Chieh-lung (白捷隆), who is in charge of resource planning in the military, said the ministry had decided to loosen the requirements for candidates and to increase the number of female soldiers in a bid to meet recruitment targets.
The number of candidates are expected to increase in the second half of the year because many young people graduated from schools in June, Pai said.
Pai added that the nation would need some time to switch its mandatory military service system to an all-volunteer force. It took France five years to transform into an all-volunteer force, and Taiwan has only been going in this direction for a little more than one year, Pai said. He said that there will have been 17 more rounds of recruitment by the end of next year.
“We have set a high goal and hope to achieve it as early as possible,” Pai said.
The nation wants to build a leaner and meaner military of 215,000 volunteers after 2015 in place of its current force of about 240,000 volunteers and conscripts. However, the recent death of an army corporal has probably put a damper on the desire of young people to join the military.
Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) died of heatstroke early last month, just days before his mandatory military service was due to end, after undergoing rigorous exercise while in confinement for a military transgression.