By Ko Shu-ling
Friday, Mar 16, 2007, Page 1
President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) announced yesterday that compulsory military service would be reduced from 16 months to 14 months, starting on July 1.
The service period could be cut further to 12 months on Jan. 1 next year if the number of enlisted soldiers is sufficient, he added.
Chen made the remarks while chatting with winners of this year’s National Youth Public Participation Awards, organized by the National Youth Commission at Taipei Guest House yesterday morning.
Chen said that by the end of this year the government’s goal was to see volunteers account for 60 percent of the military’s total personnel, while the remaining 40 percent would be conscripts. The military wants volunteers to eventually comprise half of its personnel.
`May take time’
Chen said while it may take some time for the military to shift from being a conscription-based service to an all-volunteer force, the government had set the goal of recruiting 60 percent volunteers and 40 percent conscripts before reaching its ultimate goal.
The term of compulsory service once stood at 22 months, but the government announced in 2005 that it would shorten it to 18 months in July of that year, 16 months beginning last year and 12 months from next year.
The government also decided that by next year, reservists would be released from their military obligation at the age of 35, instead of 40.