The government should bolster civil defense to meet the public’s expectations and overcome their concerns over the nation’s readiness for conflict, New Power Party (NPP) lawmakers said at an event in Taipei yesterday.
Taiwanese overwhelmingly support the notion that the public should have a larger martial role in defending the country against would-be aggressors, but have little confidence in the quality of training reservists received at boot camp, NPP Legislator Claire Wang (王婉諭) told the “All-Out Defense Workshop: First Aid, Evacuation and Escape,” which was hosted by the Taiwan First Aid Education Association and the NPP-affiliated Taiwan Mobility group.
Wang, who is Taiwan Mobility’s convenor, said that assisting the development of Taiwan’s civil defense capabilities is a major priority of the group and the workshop is part of its efforts to promote preparedness.
NPP lawmakers believe that men in mandatory military service should be trained more rigorously, while they support the exploration of other options to bolster national defense, she said.
The government should involve women in national defense and find roles for men who were exempted from military service due to health issues, she said.
Taiwan faces a powerful external threat and cannot afford to play catch-up should war break out across the Taiwan Strait, she said, adding that a mistaken broadcast about a Chinese invasion by the Chinese Television System showed a complete lack of preparedness in every part of society.
The Ministry of National Defense’s civil defense pamphlets are vague and the authors appeared unable to make up their minds about whether they were advising the public about war or some generic natural disaster, Wang said.
Practical information about survival in wartime and identification guides to recognize invading Chinese troops should have been in the booklet, she said, adding that the government should learn from other countries that have successful civil defense programs.
NPP Legislator Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智), who is Taiwan Mobility’s deputy convener, said that he had been in boot camp as a college student and again as a reserve officer cadet.
The training he witnessed appeared to be lacking in realism and practical value, Chiu said, adding that bayonet drills continue to feature in the curriculum of boot camps.
“The Ukraine-Russia war shows that Taiwanese should think seriously about how to survive if their homes are being shelled,” he said.
“For things like sheltering, administering first aid and evacuating to be properly learned, they must be practiced in peacetime,” he added.
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