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Initiatives to boost military recruitment successful: Ma

TAIPEI--President Ma Ying-jeou emphasized Monday that Taiwan's goal of an all-volunteer military force is a revolution in the country's military service system, and that for the objective to be achieved measures have been taken to improve wages and healthcare for the volunteers.

Since Jan. 1, additional payments for operational services of volunteer soldiers and officers have been substantially increased, Ma said while addressing a joint graduation ceremony for military cadets that was held at the Republic of China Military Academy in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan.

Thanks to these incentives, the number of volunteer soldiers recruited this year had reached 15,000 as of the end of May, 43 percent higher than the annual goal of 10,500 for the whole year, the president said.

Pointing out that getting young people to join combat units is a relatively difficult part of the all-volunteer recruitment system, Ma revealed the government is working to provide further incentives, including raising payments for combat operations, increasing subsidies for soldiers and officers willing to stay on base and improving living facilities for military personnel.

The volunteers will also be offered educational opportunities during their service so that they will have the chance to earn at least one vocational certificate during their time in the military, the president said.

Taiwan plans to shift to an all-volunteer force by 2017. It had originally planned for the transition to be completed by 2015, but pushed the date back due to lower-than-expected recruitment numbers.

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