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Control Yuan report calls for rethink of All-Volunteer Force
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-24 06:02 PM
The Control Yuan released a report Tuesday titled "Re-thinking the Volunteer Force: New Developments in Government Policy." The survey reported a number of problems that have emerged in connection with the Ma administration’s push for an all-volunteer army including a serious shortage of recruits and re-enlistment during the two years that the military has shifted its focus to attracting volunteers to the ranks.

The report warns that the Ma administration must take steps well in advance of the next presidential election in 2016 to seriously evaluate the policy options available for long-term development of the country’s military. It adds that if building up a volunteer force is an unshakable policy for the Ministry of National Defense (MND), it may be necessary to rethink the whole process of strategic planning in order to have a workable plan in place before a new administration takes office.

The report was prepared by Control Yuan members Huang Huang-hsiung and Chao Chang-ping as the principal investigators. They begin by noting that a budget for the all-volunteer army has not been put in place yet, and pointing out that military planners must be careful to ensure that the proportion of women seeking to join the armed forces is maintained at a proper level. Much of the report is tantamount to telling the MND that if it is serious about pushing the idea of an all-volunteer force, it must be prepared to slim down or dismantle some of the military establishment as it exists today. It also warns that President Ma must make a definite decision before he leaves office at the end of his second term on whether or not to continue promoting an all-volunteer force.

The report notes that since the MND switched to recruiting volunteers, about half of incoming troops go through new national army training centers. Draftees who were born in January 1994 or later also go through military training in the new centers but are only required to serve a total of four months, and the impact of that situation on future recruitment of volunteer officers and soldiers cannot be overlooked.

The Control Yuan report says the trial period for volunteer recruiting has already been extended for two more years, with the original plan calling for some troops to be drafted in order to make up for shortages of recruits. At the present rate of recruitment the number of troops in boots will be even more inadequate in the future, and the MND will face a serious crisis in carrying out its duties.

The report points out that the MND has lowered certain standards for new troops in order to ease the task of finding volunteers for recruiters. Other measures such as better living conditions have been taken to improve the welfare and protection of officers and men while on duty while developing a core spirit emphasizing greater professionalism and enhanced combat readiness.

The report concludes by saying that a number of factors are making it more difficult to find able and willing volunteers. These factors including a declining birth rate, a lack of financial support for recruiters, and other social and cultural factors. The Control Yuan investigators note that if the MND intends to eventually meet its target of an active duty force of 215,000 troops – including 176,000 volunteers – it may have to re-think its overall strategy and how effective recruitment can be in attracting volunteers to the military.

The report also stresses that the Ministry of the Interior has predicted that the current crunch regarding the volunteer force will come to a head by 2016, and that all government ministries and all political parties – whether ruling or opposition – must be ready to work together to resolve this crisis. The report reminds those at the top in government that they must face their responsibility and take real action to assess the size and import of the problem and develop a strategy that will be in the best interest of the country over the long run.

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