Taiwan's Defense Ministry begins transition toward all-voluntary armed forces

By ADAM TYRSETT KUO | The China Post/Asia News Network | Published: January 1, 2013

TAIPEI -- Men born after 1994 will only have to receive four months of military training as opposed to 12 months starting from this year, as part of the transition to an all-voluntary armed forces.

According to the National Conscription Agency (NCA), every year 100,000 men of conscription age will benefit from the new regulation. Approximately 160,000 men will have reached conscription age this year, and of these, around 70 percent will qualify for the four-month training session, the NCA said.

According to conscription regulations, eligible men who are studying at college or university can now apply for two-phase military training during their summer holidays.

The NCA said that last year 4,796 men applied for the two-phase training program, which means the draftees will spend eight weeks in summers this year and next year at boot camps across the nation.

Starting this year, the number of volunteer soldiers will increase and eventually make up the majority of those serving in Taiwan's military. In order to provide better incentives for men and women to join the military, the Ministry of National Defense said that people will be allowed to apply on any given day in the year, and that in the near future it will accept the results of the Education Ministry's physical fitness examination in place of its own fitness test so that people don't have to take two exams.

As part of the military's reorganization, the number of military police (MPs) will be reduced to 5,000 from 12,000, a move which has drawn concern from the public.

According to the Military Police Command (MPC), MPs are usually tasked with security-related missions that have little in common with most of the jobs offered by private enterprises; therefore, when MPs leave the service, they usually have a hard time finding a job, leading to a drop in the number of people willing to volunteer as MPs.

In order to solve this problem, the MPC is considering whether or not to relax its requirements, such as its height limit and ban on people with tattoos.

Most young people nowadays get tattoos because they think it's cool; not because they are members of the mafia, a member of the MPC said, adding that the command is thinking about allowing those with tattoos to join up so long as the marks on their bodies can be covered by their uniforms.




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