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Armed Forces Reserve Command

The ROC defense strategy calls for maintaining a minimum force in peacetime and mobilizing a large number of troops in the event of war. The reservist system plays a key role in such a policy by facilitating instantaneous mobilization and instant combat readiness. In 1997, the registered reservists of this country amount to more than 3,870,000 persons with 3,060,000 assigned to the Army, 450,000 assigned to the Navy, and 360,000 assigned to the Air Force, which is 18% of the total population. Within the Reserves there were over 310,000 officers, 1,371,000 NCOs, and 2,189,000 enlisted personnel. Over 2.6 reservists were listed in the reserve mobilization system as of 2012. In 2014, the registered reservists amounted to more than 1,657,000 persons with 1,500,000 assigned to the Army, 67,000 assigned to the Navy, and 90,000 assigned to the Air Force.

After a man is discharged from active duty, he must report to his local military reserve unit, a subunit under the Armed Forces Reserve Command. Reservists are organized into different units according to their military occupational specialty (MOS). Since a prolonged mobilization recall might adversely affect both the livelihood of a reservist and the overall economic development of the country, annual reservist training is usually conducted through recalls. An MOS refresher training course is conducted, and each reservist is notified of his unit combat mission and relative location.

Based on the principle that "regular forces conduct strikes and reserve forces defend the homeland," Theaters of Operations are the core and ground reserve forces are the backbone. In accordance with the principles "younger combatants and senior specialists" and "last retired from service first used," persons separated from service within eight years are assembled into reserve units that radiate outward from their tactical positions. The reservist list is continuously updated and reservists are priority members of mobilization forces, ensuring that combat forces are young and strong, so that "swift force generation and rapid capability reconstitution" can be achieved during wartime.

Theaters of Operations file applications for materials based on operational requirements and complete supply-demand verification operations. Important military supplies in the annual requisition plan include 180 items under 8 categories, including minerals, basic metals, machinery, fiber/leather/rubber/wool, chemicals, medical supplies, construction materials, transportation (telecommunications), and other. Furthermore, requisition plans included over 10,000 fixed facilities, over 30,000 vehicles, over 2,000 pieces of heavy machinery, over 50 vessels, over 300 fishing boats, and over 60 aircraft that can be immediately mobilized during wartime to effectively support military operations.

The Reserve Command is responsible for civil defense and mobilization preparedness. Its personnel, selected from cadres of regular forces or reserves, are organized into reserve brigades, reserve regiments, and reserve battalions subordinate to each Reserve Division Command and County/City Reserve Command in peacetime. They will be expanded and included in the command and control of the combat system in wartime.

In April 2004 Mike Huang noted that "All infantry brigades (1xx) tasked with basic training are transferred outside the regular Army to the Reserve Command. It is not immediately known which particular brigades are affected, but the Reserve Command is reportedly activating 9 brigades. Among them, 902, 904, and 905 Brigades have been activated on 04/06/2004 at Cheng Kung Ridge Military Base in Central Taiwan. A number of infantry brigades will still be retained in the regular Army, such as the 2 units in the 6th Army tasked with the defense of Metro Taipei."

There were as many as 1,500,000 reserve troops whose obligation of service extends until the age of 30 years. The government set a policy "to reduce the number of regular forces and increase that of the reservists," with the intent to achieve the objective of "retaining fewer soldiers in peace time and mobilizing more forces at wartime."

Pursuant to policy guidelines for "reducing regular forces and expanding reserves," the regular forces are being continually reduced. Therefore, the reserve forces must be reinforced to sustain the normal combat capability of the ROC Armed Forces. In order to ensure the reliability of the reserves, MND has streamlined the reserve organizations, training, and equipment so as to timely support in military operations in accordance with the guideline of "the advanced technology taking the lead, regular forces conducting strikes, and the reserves defending the rear."

Since a prolonged mobilization recall might adversely affect both the livelihood of a reservist and the overall economic development of the country, annual reservist training is usually conducted through recalls. An MOS refresher training course is conducted, and each reservist is notified of his unit's combat mission and relative location.

The purpose of muster calls is two-fold: to maintain readiness by practicing immediate report on call-up and to keep data on reservists current. Methods for streamlining call-up procedures and maximizing public convenience are periodically reviewed.

Reservists and selected military service troops are mustered every two years for training at a military base near their residence, so as to restore or maintain their basic combat (including disaster relief) skills. The training includes specialty retraining, firing training, combat training, combined training, and disaster prevention and relief, which are necessary for combat operations and disaster relief. Over 140,000 persons received training in 622 batches, effectively building mobilization capabilities. In response to disaster relief requirements during the flood season, mustered reserve forces must take an additional 4 hours of disaster relief courses (1 hour for military service troops). Furthermore, 3 to 6 battalions of disaster relief forces are maintained at all times, so that when a disaster occurs, they can jointly carry out disaster relief missions with regular forces to protect homes, protect hometowns, and protect assets.

To validate muster-call training results of reserve forces, the Tung Hsin Exercise and Tzu Chiang Exercise are simultaneously conducted along with the Han Kuang Exercise. Under the command and control mechanisms of each Theater of Operations, manpower and materials mobilization is carried out "around the island, in separate districts, at the same time" when the mobilization order is issued. Reserve forces are assembled to validate their mission succession, pre-combat training, deep battle (beach, town, mountain strategic pass, and anti-airborne operations), and wartime disaster relief, strengthening the overall combat capabilities of reserve forces.

Educational recall aims at intensifying the mobilization combat readiness and upgrading military skills and capabilities to perform their operations missions. In 1996 and 1997, about 200,000 reservists received educational recall and training with a duration from 5 to 7 days for training on subjects including firearms training, tactical force structure, and the combat readiness tasks. According to the annual mobilization program, all reservists, except those who have already been listed in educational recall, are called up each year in order to maintain readiness and update personal data. Since 1996 the one day (8 hours) muster recall has been reduced to a two-hour recall. With the formation of the Armed Forces Reseve Command in March 2002, the organization of reserve units in the ROC military has taken significant changes. Previous Army, Divisional, and Regimental Administration Headquarters were replaced by Reserve Headquarters at all major cities and counties. In addition, new reserve brigades and home defense units have been formed to improve the utilization of the reserves.

Reserve Brigades

During the past decades, refresher training of reservists had been conducted by regular combat units. As the standing Army slowly transitions into a dedicated mobile strike force, regular units are being relieved of reservist handling. Instead, 21 reserve brigades have been established to provide refresher training and to accommodate reservists during mobilization. In wartime, reserve brigades are expected to support regular combat units under the command of an operations district.

A reserve brigade is characterized as a light infantry brigade with 3 infantry battalions on the average commanded by a colonel. A small command staff comprised of active-service officers and NCOs is responsible for daily administration, equipment maintenance, and scheduled training activities. Mobilization of reserve officers and enlisted ranks is necessary to bring a brigade to full strength.

ROCA classifies reserve brigades into Categories A and B. Among 21 reserve brigades, 6 are known to be Category A and 15 to be Category B. It is speculated that a Category A brigade has an active strength equivalent to one battalion. Active members in a Category B brigade are probably limited to the high-level command staff.

One reserve brigade is assigned to each of the 21 local Reserve Headquarters. The units are distributed as follows:

Northern Taiwan

  • 911 to 917 Reserve Brigades

Central Taiwan

  • 921 to 927 Reserve Brigades

Southern Taiwan

  • 931 to 937 Reserve Brigades

Home Defense Units

Since June 2002, new home defense units have been formed to protect local military and civilian establishments in wartime. These units are comprised entirely of reservists drawn from local areas. Commanders are selected from retired officers with requisite command experience while in active service.

These new home defense units are names as follows, with a rough translation provided by the author:

Reserve Brigade Team
Reserve Battalion Team
Reserve Company Team

A total of 32 brigade teams plus 1 independent battalion team were formed. The units are distributed as follows:

Northern Taiwan

  • 11 Brigade Teams comprised of 52 Battalion Teams
  • total complement 38,540

Central Taiwan

  • 11 Brigade Teams comprised of 55 Battalion Teams

Southern Taiwan

  • 10 Brigade Teams

Penghu Islands

  • 1 Battalion Team comprised of 5 Company Teams
  • total complement 813

Reserve Battalion

Reserve battalions were formed first in 1980 at 20 Regimental Reserve Management HQs on Taiwan proper. Reservist recall and refresher training started in 1982. In 1984, the ORBAT of all reserve battalions were reduced in accordance to the ORBAT of regular army infantry battalions. Currently, the theoretical strength of a reserve battalion is 40 officers and 571 NCOs and enlisted ranks distributed over the following units:

  • 1 Battalion HQ and HQ Company
  • 1 Weapons Company
  • 3 Infantry Companies
Reserve battalions are equipped mostly with weapons retired from front-line Army units, such as T57 7.56 mm rifles, 30- and 50-cal machine guns, 60, 81, and 120 mmm mortars, and 75 mm recoiless guns.

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