Starting this year, the Ministry of National Defense’s Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program will provide an extra channel through which college-age students can be recruited to work in national security, the National Security Bureau said yesterday.
The program, initiated by the ministry 16 years ago, was modeled after a US program of the same name.
The bureau said its participation in the program expands the source of potential officers by allowing students in civilian colleges and universities to join, in addition to those in the military academies of the three branches of the armed forces.
It added that students participating in the program would sign a contract with the military and, starting this year, also with the bureau, committing them to pass a number of required courses and participate in winter and summer military training camps sponsored by the ministry and the bureau.
To prevent the possibility of China sending young people to act as sleeper agents, the bureau has placed the following restrictions on applicants: Any Chinese citizen joining the program must have been a resident of Taiwan for at least 20 years; any person from Hong Kong or Macau must have lived in Taiwan for 10 years; and any applicants with dual citizenship must rescind their non-Republic of China citizenship before they can be accepted.
The bureau added that in accordance with the National Intelligence Services Act (國家情報工作法) and the Measures of Verifying Security of National Intelligence Agents (國家情報工作人員安全查核辦法), the bureau would be closely monitoring individuals accepted by the program during their training and before graduation.
According to the bureau, college students in the program will have their tuition and other fees subsidized in their third and fourth year, as well as be given funds to buy stationery and textbooks and monthly stipends of NT$10,000 for living costs.
Upon graduating, the ROTC students must then undergo basic training for officers and will be given the rank of second lieutenant if they successfully complete their training, the bureau and the ministry said, adding that the graduate has to serve for five years after being commissioned.
If a student withdraws from the program, drops out, or is expelled from school or from the military during training camp, or while serving their mandatory service, they would have to pay back the body that subsidized their studies, either with money or through other means, the bureau said.
The target number of recruits set for this year’s ROTC program is 138, of which the bureau provides three slots.
The bureau did not say how many students have already applied or been accepted into the ROTC program.