Taiwan must beef up defense spending: former AIT chief
The China Post new staffTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's defense spending has been unrealistically low, jeopardizing the its shift toward an all-volunteer military, a former official with Washington's de facto embassy in Taipei said yesterday.
March 16, 2013, 12:06 am TWN
William Stanton, a former director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), also claimed that the morale of the local armed forces is low, citing cases of servicemen caught spying for China.
A defense ministry spokesman dismissed Stanton's claims by saying that the former AIT official does not have a full understanding of Taiwan's armed forces, according to the United Evening News.
Speaking at the World Taiwanese Congress in Taipei, Stanton said Taiwan's ambitious plan to switch to an all-voluntary military needs a big budget to pay and keep its servicemen.
But Taiwan does not have the funding to maintain the all-voluntary armed forces, and the military is unlikely to achieve its ambitious goal, he said.
Taiwan has been cutting its troops, which are currently formed mostly by draftees. But its ongoing plan to switch to an all-volunteer system has often been marred by a lack of funding and a lack of interest in a military career among its able-bodied populace.
Taiwan's military has not fought any war for years, and improved relationships with its arch rival have also undermined the armed forces' battle readiness, observers noted.
Stanton said morale in Taiwan's military is slow, which is illustrated by the frequent cases of its servicemen spying for China.
These spying cases have had one thing in common: China has been eager to obtain information about Taiwan's military communication system and about U.S. weapon sales to the island, the ex-AIT official said.
Taipei must gain a wider understanding of the challenges facing its national security and re-examine its military spending, he urged.