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No instruction to further cut down troop level: MND

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday reiterated its goal to trim down R.O.C. military personnel numbers to between 170,000 and 190,000 personnel, adding that it has not received instructions from the president to further cut down the size of troops.

“Our present goal is to cut down the number of troops to between 170,000 and 190,000 by the end of 2019 as part of a new streamlining project,” military spokesman Luo Shou-he (羅紹和) said at a MND news briefing when asked to comment on the issue.

The ministry so far has not received instructions from the Presidential Office to further downsize troop numbers to below that proposed number, Luo noted.

Luo made the comments when asked to confirm a remark made by President Ma Ying-jeou last Thursday.

During a Thursday meeting with Robert Willard, former commander of the U.S. Pacific Command at the Presidential Office, Ma said that a ratio of 0.6-0.7 percent of the population is enough to ensure sufficient defensive capabilities in Taiwan.

The figures, which represent a military of between 143,000 to 167,000 servicemen, are lower than those previously announced by the MND last month.

Asked to comment, Luo yesterday said the president's remark only suggests that he thinks the Taiwan military can maintain its defensive capabilities with 143,000 to 167,000 servicemen.

It does not mean that the president has already given orders to the military to launch a new wave of downsizing, he said.

Luo noted that the president later rephrased his remark by saying that the MND's present goal is to cut the size of R.O.C. Armed Forces so that the troop-to-population ratio in Taiwan will stand around 0.8 percent.

The figure coincides with the MND's goal that set the number of local troops to between 170,000 and 190,000 by the end of 2019, he noted.

Currently, the troop-to-population ratio in Taiwan stands at 0.93 percent.

Taiwan's troop numbers are expected to be streamlined to around 215,000 amid an ongoing military project that is set to be completed by the end of this year.

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