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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Military denies further downsizing of forces planned

ROC Central News Agency

2014/02/18 17:48:18

Taipei, Feb. 18 (CNA) The Defense Ministry on Tuesday rebutted speculation sparked by a comment by President Ma Ying-jeou that Taiwan is planning to further downsize its troop levels beyond current force reduction plans.

Ma told Robert Willard, a former commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, in Taipei last week that a force level of 0.6-0.7 percent of the population would be enough to ensure the country's defenses.

That ratio was lower than the 0.8 percent targeted by the military's existing downsizing plan, giving rise to speculation that a further force cut was planned.

Military spokesman Luo Shou-he said, however, that despite the comment, the president has not instructed the military to further cut the ratio to 0.6-0.7 percent of the population.

The military is planning to reduce the size of the military next year from the current 0.9 percent of the population to 0.8 percent, or from 215,000 servicemen to between 170,000 and 190,000.

Willard was in Taiwan last week as the head of a delegation made up of members of the Seattle-based think tank National Bureau of Asian Research.

The Republic of China had a force of 600,000 when the government retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the Chinese Civil War. Other streamlining efforts have since reduced armed forces personnel to 450,000 in 1998 and to 215,000 at present.

(By Claudia Liu and Scully Hsiao)

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