MND to report military work, drafting phase-out

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The defense ministry is scheduled to report to lawmakers tomorrow on its plans for introducing all-volunteer military services.

Defense Minister Chen Chao-min will meet the legislative defense and foreign affairs committees to present a report on his ministry’s work, including the goal of phasing out the draftee system, as well as building cross-strait military trust. The CNA revealed yesterday that the ministry aims at achieving the all-volunteer system by the end of 2013. Currently all able-bodied men in Taiwan have to serve at least one year in the military in a draft system that the government plans to abandon to reduce the number of troops. The voluntary military service system was one of President Ma Ying-jeou’s campaign promises. Ma Friday said the size of the troop cuts is open to discussion, as the trimming is meant to establish an elite deterrent force and enhance overall combat capabilities.

“We will not trim our armed forces simply for the sake of trimming,” Ma was cited by the Central News Agency as telling a group of ruling Kuomintang lawmakers during a seminar held Friday evening.

“Our ultimate goal is to establish an elite fighting force, capable of safeguarding national security,” the president said. Ma was responding to Legislator Shuai Hua-ming’s concern that the defense ministry plans to cut 70,000 troops over the next four years, according to Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chi.

During the meeting, Ma also reiterated the government’s determination to continue its military buildup and keep the country ready for combat despite easing tensions across the Taiwan Strait. “Protecting Taiwan’s security, stability and prosperity is a common goal of all quarters of local society,” he was cited as saying.