Premier sets 2015 target all-volunteer army conversion
CNATAIPEI--The government will make the army an all-volunteer force by 2015 as a goal, despite facing current financial difficulties, Premier Wu Den-yih said yesterday.
March 30, 2011, 11:26 pm TWN
“To maintain a lean but powerful defense force, we must implement an all-volunteer system,” Wu said.
He said the current conscription system has shortened the service period to less than one year, with servicemen leaving the military right after getting familiar with it.
“An all-volunteer army was not only on the 2008 campaign platform of President Ma Ying-jeou, but is also a very important national defense policy,” Wu said.
But the transition will take time. Currently, the military recruits using both conscription and career systems. Wu said the government cannot immediately make the transition to all volunteer for its defense needs right now. The government needs to resolve financial difficulties and find the resources to implement the new policy.
As a result, Wu has not set a final date for the transition. But he has asked Vice Premier Sean Chen to convene a team to work out solutions to the problems, including how to effectively use military lands, as well as redistribute funds to help upgrade military capabilities.
President Ma Ying-jeou pledged during his presidential election campaign in 2008 that Taiwan would complete the implementation of an all-volunteer military by 2014.
Responding to Wu's remarks, lawmakers from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) criticized the one-year delay from today's announcement, which they said disrupts the career planning of youths.
DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng said that he is disappointed that the government keeps bouncing the date back.
During his campaign, President Ma also pledged to increase military spending to at least 3 percent of the country's gross domestic product.
Another DPP Legislator, Huang Wei-cher, asked how the government could claim a lack of funds as a reason for delay when it has increased the national defense budget by a double-digit percentage every year.
Taiwan's 2011 military budget stood at only around NT$290 billion (US$9.8 billion), which represents 2 percent of the GDP, according to Premier Wu.