Thursday, May 17, 2007

Taiwan is cutting their military service

This is not news. It has been going on for years, since the year 2000 to be exact, but you can bet such news will be reported quietly, if at all in the local press. The Taiwanese are cutting their compulsory military service. The military service length for Taiwanese males used to be 2 years. From what I gathered, the cut started in 2003, with a cut to 22 months. 20 months in 2004, 18 months in 2005, 16 months in 2006, 14 months in 2007, and subject to volunteer enlistment meeting recruitment targets, it will be reduced to 12 months in 2008. Volunteer enlistment had been exceeding their targets in recent years due to vastly improved benefits, so they will most probably be able to do the cut in 2008. The target is to cut the service by 2 months every year, until, eventually, the military is all volunteer professionals.

Contrary to what I wrote in an earlier comment, Taiwanese reservists do have reservist training, but the liability currently is no more than 40 days in a 6 year period. In contrast, Singaporean reservists can potentially be called up 40 days a year for 10 years.

I know Singapore is not Taiwan. A US defence expert, Dr Bernard Cole, questioned the use of such short training cycles. (link provided below)

But that does not mean we cannot draw some useful conclusions.

1) If we pay our soldiers with the same mindset as we pay our ministers, I think we can easily have a larger professional army, funded by cutting the length of NSF and NSmen training. Remember, we may pay our NSFs peanuts, but tens of thousands of peanuts add up to a handsome sum. Furthermore, only MINDEF knows what astronomical sum is spent on Make-Up Pay for calling up reservists this frequently.

2) Taiwan faces an opponent bigger and powerful than the whole South-East Asia ex Singapore, combined, and was a site of continual conquests by foreign powers over the past few hundred years. They can learn to breathe easy. Can we?

"Just because you are not paranoid, does not mean that they are not out to get you."


Taiwan's Security: History and Prospects by Dr. Bernard Cole, Professor of International History, National War College

Conscription in the Republic of China, Wikipedia

Ministry of National Defence: Military Service to cut to 1 year in 2008 if volunteer enlistment targets met, MND press release (in Traditional Chinese)


  1. Thank you for the informative post and references.

  2. Few Singaporeans know these facts. Our local media always keep Singaporeans in the dark. Thanks for the info.