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September 26, 2017

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No amount of drills can make up for an underfunded military

For the past four years, the nation's defense budget only accounted for 2 percent of our GDP.

The allocation for the upcoming fiscal year of 2013 is expected to stay under 3 percent of GDP again, since only recently the Cabinet has asked all government branches, including the Ministry of National Defense (MND), to cut their budget proposals for next year by another 10 to 15 percent, due to the country's worsening financial circumstances.

We do understand that the government has to consider the overall need of all sectors as well as the country's financial situation before making the final decision on budget allocations.

Given the dwindling defense budget over the years, how could the country expect to successfully push for a transformation into a voluntary military system (as opposed to the current obligatory system) by 2013, which requires an even greater budget to support?

Moreover, how will the government push for advanced armament purchases from the United States if the military doesn't have a sufficient budget?

In fact, the limited defense budget has already hurt Taiwan's military, threatening the safety of our military personnel.

We have witnessed military aircraft crashes, one after the other, for the past few years, resulting in deaths of the nation's pilots who lost their lives due to the aging fighters they were flying because we could not afford to buy new jets.

The limited money to properly store our weaponry in better conditions could also be blamed for several arsenal blasts in recent years, including an accident in March when a missile exploded near houses in Pingtung during an exercise.

We also recently learned that local city and county governments owed a total of NT$1.31 billion for disaster rescue and relief missions to the military (accumulated over the past two years), which is another example highlighting the administration's lack of financial support for the MND.

Due to an insufficient budget, the ministry is now considering turning down future requests by local governments to help with post-disaster relief missions, such as cleanup operations, to lower its expenses and stick to the military's defense duties.

We are, therefore, calling for the ruling administration to financially support our armed forces; for the sake of keeping our military in defense readiness at all times, and for the safety of our soldiers, which is of paramount importance to the safety of our nation.

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