Voluntary military recruitment in Taiwan going well: Defense Ministry

Voluntary military recruitment in Taiwan going well: Defense Ministry
PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI - The ongoing military recruitment drive is going smoothly as more than 20,000 Taiwanese youths have applied to join the R.O.C. Armed Forces so far this year, the Ministry of National Defence (MND) announced yesterday.

According to statistics released by the MND, a total of 23,599 men and women applied to join the Taiwan military between January and July 16 this year.

The MND ultimately recruited 9,939 of the applicants, said Major General Liu Ching-chung of the MND's Human Resources Division during a news briefing yesterday.

The number of recruits means the MND has reached 70 per cent of its pre-set annual recruitment goal this year, Liu added.

Meanwhile, of the 3,803 voluntary soldiers who were scheduled to be discharged this year, 2,592 of them, or 68 per cent, decided to extend their service.

This number represented a 14-per cent rise in retention rates compared with the average number in 2013 and 2014 that stood at around 46 per cent, Liu added.

Also, a total of 3,386 of compulsory service conscripts who were undergoing required monthlong boot camp training nationwide have decided to join the armed forces as voluntary servicemen and women so far this year, he added.

These encouraging recruitment numbers, a steady improvement in comparison with the same figures years ago, have proven that the government incentives initiated to boost recruitment are working, Liu noted.

The military will continue to offer incentives to boost recruitment in the hope of meeting the full voluntary military transformation goal on time, he said.

Taiwan's military has been suffering from poor recruitment rates over the past few years as the R.O.C. Armed Forces are moving toward a fully voluntary force by the end of 2016.

The military announced in late 2011 that eligible men 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.

Those eligible men born before the date still have to finish their compulsory one-year service in the military.

It was originally announced that the R.O.C. Armed Forces would be transformed into fully voluntary force from the existing conscription system by Jan. 1, 2015 in the wake of the transformation.

The MND, however, in September 2013, announced that it would postpone the abolishment of the conscription system by two years to 2017 due to sluggish volunteer recruitment numbers.

To boost recruitment, the government has launched a series of incentives and salary hikes over the past two years, including improvement of living quarters at military bases and offering more diversified services for veterans to find jobs or pursue further education following discharge from the military.

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