Taiwan's new military downsizing plan may suffer delay: report

Taiwan's new military downsizing plan may suffer delay: report

TAIPEI - A programme scheduled to launch this July to further cut down the size of the country's military could be delayed due to objections raised by the R.O.C. Army, a local media outlet reported yesterday.

The Chinese-language United Evening News yesterday said the planned armed forces downsizing project, named Yong Ku (勇固), was originally scheduled to kick off this July as part of the military's plan to further cut the country's military personnel to below 200,000 by the end of 2019.

Among all the military branches, the R.O.C. Army is likely to be the one that will suffer the most significant downsizing during the wave of streamlining, the report said.

According to the plan, military academies and training centres of each of the military branches, including the Army, Navy and Air Force, are expected to merge following the downsize, the report said.

The proposal, however, has drawn strong objections from the Army.

Unlike the military schools and training centres of the Navy and Air Force that are mostly located in the southern city of Kaohsiung, which makes it easier for the scheduled merges, the Army's training centres are scattered around Taiwan Proper and some are located on offshore islands.

This makes it more difficult for Army training centres and academies to merge into one and thus complicates the downsizing project, it noted.

Another reason for the Army to protest over the Yong Ku project is that the Ministry of National Defence (MND) has insisted on cutting the number of general officers in several Army units, the report said.

Many Army units that will be affected by the plan are not willing to give in, it noted.

Plan Going Smoothly: MND

Asked to comment, military spokesman Luo Shao-ho (羅紹和) yesterday refuted the newspaper report as incorrect and straying from truth.

Saying that the ongoing Yong Ku programme is now being implemented in accordance with the proposed schedule, Luo said the military will make timely adjustments on the way to meeting the needs of the R.O.C. armed forces.

The MND announced the new wave of Yong Ku programme in 2014 to further downsize military personnel numbers in Taiwan.

The military originally said the R.O.C. armed forces would be downsized to around 215,000 from the current 275,000 by the end of 2014.

Former Defence Minister Yen Ming, however, announced last January that the military will undergo a new wave of downsizing from 2015 to 2019 to further cut the number of troops to between 170,000 and 190,000.

Since the announcement, there have been numerous rumours that the MND could significantly cut the numbers of several military units.

There were also previous reports that said the number of generals in the armed forces would be cut to 230 from the current 292 as part of a downsizing programme to be implemented later this year.

The MND has denied all of the above allegations.

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