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May 1, 2017

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Lawmakers propose creation of 'weekend warrior' program

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Two lawmakers have recently advocated for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to introduce the "weekend warrior" program to Taiwan to boost the nation's combat readiness in case of war.

The proposal, co-drafted by Lee Tung-hao (李桐豪) of the opposition People First Party (PFP) and ruling Kuomintang's (KMT) Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), is meant to call on the MND to learn from the example of the National Guard in the United States.

The proposal recommends that the MND recruit experienced airsoft players to join special reservist camps. The participants of the program can continue to have their regular jobs during weekdays, but they are required to report to camp one weekend per month for training, according to the proposal.

Airsoft is a sport in which participants eliminate opponents by hitting each other with replica firearms called Airsoft guns. It has been a popular sport in Taiwan in recent years.

The introduction of the so-called "weekend warrior" program is expected to boost Taiwan reservists' combat readiness and preparedness, according to Lee.

As Taiwan is about to abolish compulsory military service and replace it with a full voluntary force, Lee said conscripts now only need to undergo four months of basic military training before they become a reservist.

Reservists are mustered every two years for training at a military base near their residence to maintain basic combat skills.

However, Lee suspects that the biannual training is not enough to maintain reserve forces' combat readiness should war break out.

That is why he made the pitch to the MND with the aim to beef up the nation's defense preparedness, the lawmaker said.

Lee said the draft proposal will be officially presented to the Legislative Yuan at its next session to begin later this year.

In response to the proposal, military spokesman Luo Shao-ho (羅紹和) said the military very much appreciated the idea brought up by the lawmakers, but the MND believes the time is not ripe for the military to introduce the program to Taiwan.

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