The implementation date for an all-volunteer military has been pushed back two years from 2015 to 2017 because of recruitment difficulties, the Ministry of National Defense announced yesterday at a press conference.
The military was scheduled to shift to an all-volunteer force by the end of next year. However, the ministry has experienced difficulties recruiting sufficient volunteers in the past 20 months since the Executive Yuan approved the plan last year and has been forced to defer implementation.
The Executive Yuan has approved the ministry’s revised plan, which would men born before Dec. 31, 1993, to serve a one-year mandatory military service, with those born after Jan. 1, 1994 receiving a four-month basic military training, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major-General David Lo (羅紹和) said.
Those who were born before Dec. 31, 1993, had only been required for substitute services, but now are needed to fill the personnel shortage.
An all-volunteer military has been one of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) most important campaign pledges.
The ministry had planned to cut the size of the military from 235,000 to 215,000, of which 176,000 would be volunteers, by 2015.
The ministry was concerned that the nation’s armed forces would not be sufficiently strong to carry out their duties of safeguarding the nation and disaster relief if volunteer recruitment continued to fall short of the original goal.
Its recruitment has been further hampered by the case of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), who died following alleged abuse at a military detention facility in July, triggering a protest by about 250,000 people last month demanding reform of the military.
Wang Tien-de (王天德), director of the ministry’s Department of Resources Planning, estimated that 60,000 draftees would be affected.
Wang denied that plans to create an all-volunteer military had failed, reiterating that the ministry is still working toward reaching that goal.
Draftees born before Dec. 31, 1993, could still apply for alternative non-military community service, but they could have to go through a draw, said Tsai Ching-chih (蔡清治), director of Draft Division of the National Conscription Agency.
The ministry said it believed benefits and welfare for military personnel would have to be increased to provide extra incentive for those who are interested in a military career.
Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers have criticized Ma for violating his campaign pledge, with Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) saying that Ma’s poor leadership as commander-in-chief was why the military had become notorious for its low morale and mismanagement, which had subsequently resulted in recruitment problems.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said that deferring the implementation date for an all-volunteer military would only be a temporary remedy to address personnel shortages.
“In the long run the ministry will still have to find a solution [to the lack of recruits], otherwise the problem will resurface in two years’ time,” Lin said.
‘NOT AN INCH’: The president said after incursions by Chinese warplanes that there should be very smooth collaboration between the executive and military branches President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that Taiwan would not budge “an inch” on issues of sovereign territory and would stalwartly defend its democratic freedoms. Tsai made the remarks during an inspection of surface-to-air missiles at an air force base in Hualien. She was accompanied by National Security Council (NSC) Secretary-General Wellington Koo (顧立雄), Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發), Chief of the General Staff Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光) and Republic of China Air Force Commander Hsiung Hou-chi (熊厚基). After attending a briefing, Tsai was given a demonstration of procedures for a missile launch. Tsai granted the base a one-time subsidy to boost troop
RIVERSIDE CAMP: As rescuers continued their search for a missing man, Taipower said that the floodgates at a hydro plant on the Lishi Creek opened due to a malfunction Three people have been confirmed dead and one was missing after being swept away by a flash flood while camping in Nantou County’s Renai Township (仁愛), police said yesterday. Six people from two families were camping near Lishi Creek (栗栖溪) when the riverbanks were suddenly flooded just after 4am, carrying away four of the campers — including two children — who were asleep in their tents, police said. A man who was among those swept away was able to climb ashore and call for help, police said, adding that another man had gone missing in the turmoil at the campsite.
ON THEIR OWN: The KMT has decided not to participate as a party at this year’s forum, and if any members do go, they would not be representing the party, Alicia Wang said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced that it would not send a delegation “as a political party” to this year’s Straits Forum, after a Chinese TV program described the planned visit to the annual meeting as “suing for peace.” The 12th forum is scheduled to open in Xiamen, China, on Saturday. On Tuesday last week, the KMT announced that former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would lead the party’s delegation to the forum, with KMT Secretary-General Lee Chien-lung (李乾龍) as deputy head. However, on Thursday last week, China Central Television’s (CCTV) Yangshipin (央視頻) program, hosted by Li Hong (李紅), included a headline
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the