Opinion | Taiwan’s Recent Military Reforms: A Half Step in the Right Direction
Taiwan President of Tsai Ing Wen Taiwan announced in the last week of December 2022 that from January 1, 2024, Taiwan will increase compulsory military service from four months to one year. The decision is expected to affect those born on and after January 1, 2005. Prior to this, after 1949, when the Republic of China government was transferred to Taiwan following the Chinese Civil War, all Taiwanese males above the age of 18 were required to serve two to three years in the military. However, by 2008, the compulsory service in the army was reduced to one year. Also the recruitment was turned into a volunteer force from 2008-2016 under the previous Kuomintang administration. It required only four months of military service for those serving in auxiliary roles. During these four months, the soldiers undergo a five-week boot camp followed by 11 weeks of specialized training with field units. However, under President Tsai’s revised system, all candidates are now required to complete eight weeks of basic training before 44 weeks of ground training. Military Training have to pass through. His monthly salary will also be increased from about US$ 195 to US$ 650 per month. News about military service recruitment in Taiwan has been widely reported. However, Taiwan has also announced a series of military reforms along with this, which includes dividing the military forces into four main categories. These are respectively the Main Fighting Force, the Garrison Force, the Civil Defense System and the Reserve System. According to the information available, the main combat force will consist of professional soldiers, who will take responsibility for regional security, while the garrison force will mainly consist of military personnel and will be responsible for the protection of key infrastructure inside Taiwan. Apart from this, new candidates under the new system Drone Like will also work with modern weapons and will also practice first aid and life saving skills. After the beginning of the century, the People’s Republic of China started its military reforms. The balance of power in the Taiwan Strait has been decidedly tilted towards China, especially when Chinese military reforms were carried forward rapidly under Xi Jinping. In response, Taiwan was moving towards the overall defense concept under the leadership of Admiral Lee Hsi Ming. Simply put, under this concept, Taiwan was planning to adopt asymmetric warfare. At that time, the emphasis on the purchase and training of lethal and deadly weapons was almost non-existent. However, with the retirement of Admiral Lee, the Ministry of Defense of Taiwan changed the focus and goal of the ODC again. Under this, started acquiring high-profile, high-prestige and high-cost weapons. Although these weapons are no longer state-of-the-art, they will not help Taiwan to contain China or defend itself against its unification campaigns. Apart from this, many challenges exist before the Taiwanese army not only in terms of military modernization but also in relation to recruitment and training. For example, Taiwanese youth are more inclined to work in the manufacturing and service sectors rather than opting for low-paying armed forces jobs due to ample economic opportunities in the country. Additionally, as Taiwan’s Interior Ministry suggested in its report to the Legislative Yuan of Taiwan, the number of new recruits in 2022 will be the lowest in a decade. 7000 less than its target and this will be partly due to the falling birth rate. However, the reluctance of youth towards military career is also a reason.