Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-26 12:36 PM
The Executive Yuan said in a statement that the transition to an all-volunteer military system is a must on a long term basis, but the government needs to provide greater incentives to draw young people in a competitive job market. Under the plan, the duty-based allowances for volunteer soldiers and non-commissioned officers will be raised between NT$2,000 and NT$4,000 (US$66 to $133). The region-based allowances for soldiers serving on the offshore islands will see a higher increase. Allowance of soldiers on the Spratly Islands will jump from NT$12,360 to NT$20,000 per month. Those serving on islands like the Pratas, Dadan, and Erdan will see a raise from NT$9,790 to NT$12,000.
Other allowance programs will be reviewed in accordance with the recruitment progress as well as the state's financial condition, according to the latest statement.
The all-volunteer transition was supposed to have been completed by 2015. However, the defense ministry announced the postponement of its implementation by two years amid a continuing recruitment shortage. For the first 11 months of 2013, only 30 percent of the recruiting target was met.
In a report unveiled Tuesday, the Control Yuan cast doubts on Taiwan's ability to launch a credible all-volunteer military system, raising questions about the island's ability to defend itself against a possible attack from China.
President: no delay on all-volunteer plan
President Ma Ying-jeou attended a military promotion ceremony Thursday and defended the all-volunteer military system, clarifying that the authorities are extending the review period of the policy by two years instead of postponing the policy. Ma emphasized that the government has been advocating the transformation into an all-volunteer force, even if the recruitment doesn’t proceed as expected.
Ma said the country needs a military force that is not large in number but excellent in counter-strike capability. Under the current military enlistment program, the military service period is shortened to only one year, which has left critical challenges to the quality and maintenance of national armed forces. Under the all-volunteer military system, the military will be able to maintain effective deterrence and defense capability as long as it can recruit 10,000 volunteers over each of the next two years. Afterwards, the required number of volunteers can be cut to 7,000 per year to sustain the force.
Despite the introduction of the all-volunteer system, the government will retain its constitutional power to conscript male citizens for military service in the future so as to meet any unexpected need, the president said.
Also at the ceremony, Minister of National Defense Yen Ming endorsed the plan, saying his ministry will not backpedal on the all-volunteer military policy and will make all possible efforts to overcome any difficulties. In a briefing to the lawmakers at the Foreign and National Defense Committee Thursday morning, Yen quoted a report from U.S. experts commenting Taiwan’s national defense budget is insufficient and needs to be expanded to improve Taiwan’s defense capability.