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《TAIPEI TIMES》 Armed forces at 80% strength, report says


Conscripts serving their one-year compulsory military service put camouflage on each other’s faces at a military camp in Taichung on March 20.
Photo: Ann Wang, Reuters

Conscripts serving their one-year compulsory military service put camouflage on each other’s faces at a military camp in Taichung on March 20. Photo: Ann Wang, Reuters

2024/05/29 03:00

CONCERNS: Lawmakers highlighted the declining population and said that mandatory service would not help staff combat units, as they require troops with years of training

By Aaron Tu and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporter, with staff writer

The armed forces are at 80 percent strength, the Ministry of National Defense said in a report submitted to the legislature as part of the annual budget review.

The report did not include troops enlisted through the one-year compulsory military service that was reinstated earlier this year.

The military’s staffing level was 89 percent in 2020, 88 percent in 2021, and 80 percent in 2022 and last year, it said.

Taiwan’s declining population, the COVID-19 pandemic, competition from the civilian sector and inadequate salaries and perks offered by the military are to blame for the ministry’s recruitment woes, the report said.

Citing Ministry of the Interior data, the report said the pool of Taiwanese men who could potentially serve in the military last year decreased to 97,828, down from 102,740 in 2022.

The situation is expected to worsen with Taiwan’s 2031 military staffing pool dropping to a projected 74,036, it said.

The report revealed a worrisome decline, lawmakers reviewing the defense budget told defense officials during a question-and-answer session.

Some combat units are at less than 80 percent of their required strength and last year’s 78 percent retention rate was just above the government’s target of 76 percent, the lawmakers said.

The reintroduction of mandatory service would help provide troops for defense, but not combat units, which need seasoned professionals with skills acquired over years of training, the lawmakers said.

The defense ministry is urged to step up its recruitment efforts by reviewing its current methods, while paying particular attention to increasing the number of volunteer soldiers and boosting retention, they said.

Ministerial departments would provide the legislature with more written reports on these matters, they added.

新聞來源:TAIPEI TIMES

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