Conscripts report as voluntary transformation begins

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The first batch of nearly 3,000 conscripts will report to boot camps around the country today to undergo four months of military training as part of the government’s plan to abolish compulsory service and replaced it with a full voluntary system. The total of 2,900 conscripts are due to report to Cheng Gong Ling (成功嶺) training center in central city of Taichung and Zhong Keng (中坑) training center in Chiayi, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said. The training will be divided into two parts with the first eight weeks focusing on training qualified riflemen. The second part, another eight weeks of training, focuses on individual military specialties, the MND said. A conscript has to meet the basic standard to pass the training sessions.

The qualifications include being able to finish a 3,000-meter run in 18 minutes, do 37 push-ups within two minutes and 31 sit-ups in two minutes. A qualified solider also has to be able to throw a grenade 36 meters, it said.

After finishing their required training, qualified soldiers will become reserve soldiers and can be mobilized during wartime, the MND said.

The latest policy was launched in response to government’s plan to transform the nation’s armed forces into a full voluntary one.

The government announced in December 2011 that eligible males born after Jan. 1, 1994 will no longer need to serve compulsory military service.

Instead, they will only need to undergo four months of military training, starting from 2013. Before the transformation, all Taiwanese men were obliged to serve in the military for around a year once they reached the age of 18.