President reaffirms plan for all-volunteer military
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, Dec. 26 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Thursday that the government has continued to promote its policy to transform the military into an all-volunteer force, despite facing a recruitment shortage.
A recent decision by the Ministry of National Defense to extend the review period of the policy by two years until 2016 does not mean a delay in the policy, Ma said while addressing a military promotion ceremony.
He said the country does not need military forces that are large in number, but ones that are high quality with strength in ability.
The military will be able to maintain effective deterrence and defense as long as it can recruit 10,000 volunteers per year for the next two years, and the number of volunteers needed will be 7,000 people per year after the volunteer system is officially launched in 2017, he said.
This year, the military has managed to recruit more than 8,000 volunteers, with the shortfall filled by conscripts, he said.
Despite the introduction of the all-volunteer system, the government will retain its constitutional power to conscript citizens for military service in the future, to meet any unexpected need that might arise, the president said.
He noted that in order to increase the incentives for young people to pursue military careers, the Executive Yuan has approved a plan to raise allowances for military personnel.
Under the plan, effective from Jan. 1, the duty-based allowances for volunteer soldiers and non-commissioned officers will be increased by between NT$2,000 (US$66.6) and NT$4,000.
The region-based allowance for those who are assigned to outlying areas such as the Taiping Island, the largest islet in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and the Dadan and Erdan islands near Kinmen, will be raised to between NT$12,000 and NT$20,000, up from the current range of between NT$9,790 and NT$12,360.
Also at the ceremony, Defense Minister Yen Ming said his ministry will not backpedal on the all-volunteer military policy and will made all possible efforts to overcome any barriers to ensure its success.
(By Kelven Huang, Tang Pei-chun, Chiachen Hsieh and Y.F. Low)
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