Size of Taiwan's armed forces to be cut further (update)
Central News Agency
2014-01-20 11:31 PM
Taipei, Jan. 20 (CNA) Taiwan is planning to cut the country's military personnel to below 200,000 by the end of 2019, as it moves forward with its efforts to streamline the military, Defense Minister Yen Ming said Monday. According to a draft plan, the military will undergo a new downsizing program from 2015 to 2019, Yen said during a dinner with local reporters to celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year. "We plan to cut the number of troops to between 170,000 and 190,000" from the 215,000 target for the end of 2014 under the current streamlining program, he said. This is part of the military's effort to adjust the organization of Taiwan's defense apparatus and restructure the armed forces, he said. The plan has taken into consideration such factors as the future type of combat operations, government finances and the weapons in the military's arsenal, Yen said, adding that the deployment of high-tech weapons systems allows the military to cut its personnel. This will also help achieve Taiwan's goal of building a military force that is "small but elite, small but skillful, and small but strong," he said. Yen took the opportunity, meanwhile, to reiterate the government's determination to shift to an all-volunteer force, citing measures aimed at giving young people more incentives to pursue a military career. For example, since Jan. 1, the government has raised monthly allowances for volunteer soldiers and non-commissioned officers to between NT$2,000 (US$66.60) and NT$4,000 per month. Taiwan plans to shift to an all-volunteer force by 2017. It originally planned for the transition to be completed by 2015, but pushed the date back due to lower-than-expected recruitment numbers. The military will need to recruit more than 10,000 servicemen annually in 2015 and 2016, but that number will fall to around 7,000 beginning in 2017, he added. (By Elaine Hou)
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