Author Topic: Taiwan ends mandatory service  (Read 1388 times)

adroth

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Taiwan ends mandatory service
« on: May 28, 2019, 01:45:23 AM »
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Taiwan prepares for end of conscription
Sarah Mishkin in Taipei NOVEMBER 21, 2012

https://www.ft.com/content/489ed4c4-1eaa-11e2-bebc-00144feabdc0

Hsu Ruei-buo is one of the last Taiwanese men to be drafted to serve a year in the military and the college student looks forward to it, although he does not think his country needs him.

“To be honest,” he says, “if there is really a war between China and Taiwan, it is barely possible for us to win.”

In January, Taiwan will stop drafting young men into active duty as it moves to a professional military designed to be “stronger, smaller, smarter”, in the words of one retired officer. Instead of relying on conscripts, Taiwan will need to convince men such as Mr Hsu that they are needed as the country builds a force which strategists say will be better able to deter China, whose 2.3m-strong army is more than 10 times as large and whose growing defence budget is more than 14 times that of Taiwan.

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Taiwan’s move on military service will be a major cultural and strategic shift for a nation that has previously relied on conscription – which accounts for about 60 per cent of the military. The change comes with challenges, such as persuading young men to enlist and finding the budget to pay them enough to make the military an attractive option, former officials and analysts say. The plan envisions an eventual professional army of about 215,000 soldiers, fewer than the 270,000 now in the force but better trained and serving tours of at least four years. Starting next year, men born after January 1, 1994 will still have to do four months of training but not the full year that conscripts now serve.

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Current and former soldiers say the end of the draft will change Taiwan society, as men will no longer, regardless of home town or class, share the camaraderie that Mr Hsu says has long been “one good common topic” to bond over.

Strategically, the change means Taiwan can focus on training elite and longer serving troops such as pilots and naval crews who use the nation’s high-tech weapons systems, says Parris Chang, an opposition leader and former deputy head of Taiwan’s national security council.

“In practice,” however, says Arthur Ding, an academic specialising in military affairs, “I’m not so confident.”

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« Last Edit: May 28, 2019, 01:00:18 PM by adroth »

adroth

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Re: Taiwan ends mandatory service
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2019, 01:51:04 AM »
Can Taiwan's military become a voluntary force?
By Cindy Sui
BBC News, Taipei
31 December 2013

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-25085323

Last year, 24-year-old Anthony Tseng managed to get out of something that many Taiwanese men dread - a mandatory year in the military.

He went on a crash diet, eating only jelly and seaweed for dinner, and lost so much weight that he was exempt.

"I think it's a total waste of time. Even if we were to serve a year, that doesn't mean we would be ready for battle. And besides, it's unlikely Taiwan will go to war," said Mr Tseng, who after graduation got a job as an auditor instead.

Others don't even see a need for a military.

"It's useless. China doesn't need weapons to invade, they only have to use economics to defeat us," said Steven Tsao, a 21-year-old college student who will be drafted once he graduates.

Taiwan requires men between the ages of 18 to 35 to perform military service, with most undergoing a year of boot camp training - but many young people don't see the need for conscription.

Unlike their parents or grandparents, they no longer see China as a threat. An increasing number of Taiwan's youth want to work in China, because they can earn higher wages there.

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Recognising this, President Ma Ying-jeou has promised to end one-year conscription and build an all-voluntary force made up of dedicated professional soldiers by 2015.

Currently, conscripts make up nearly one third of Taiwan's 220,000-strong defence force.

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The government hopes to eventually move to an all-voluntary force
In the first 11 months of this year, it recruited just 8,600 people - less than a third of its target for 2013.

This issue forced the government in September to delay its target date for converting to an all-professional force by two years.

But even those inside the ministry say they doubt the government will succeed.

"The country needs people who are willing to serve, but even we servicemen have no confidence… We feel the military is just a job, we don't feel any honour. Everybody just wants to get our retirement benefits and get out of here," said one long-time officer who requested anonymity.

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It has stepped up outreach, opening up its bases for public viewing, setting up recruitment booths in colleges, and even having officers dressing up in cute cartoon-character soldier costumes at sports events.

The efforts are convincing some people, such as Charles Chi, 30.

He quit his job in design and advertising in 2011 to join the army. It's a profession he's long been interested in; he hopes to eventually join the special forces.

"I think there is still glory in being a soldier," Mr Chi said. "Cross-strait relations are good, and the threats are not that obvious, but I hope I can use my professional knowledge to help reform the military.

"If the military doesn't change, there won't be young people who want to join. We need young people to join, so that the military can keep up with the changing times."