Taiwan's military reverses course on conscript training

09/27/2021 02:49 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 27 (CNA) Conscripts in Taiwan will again be assigned to field military units across the country, including those on offshore islands, after concluding their basic training, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Monday.

Currently, the four-month military service period for all eligible males in Taiwan is divided into two stages -- five weeks of basic training in boot camps and 11 weeks of specialized training at military branch training centers (generally near where they live).

Monday's announcement meant, however, that starting this month, conscripts will be assigned to field units after completing their basic training to better familiarize themselves with field unit operations and make them combat-ready.

They will undergo a lottery draw to decide which unit they will be assigned to for the rest of their service, meaning they could end up in military units on the offshore frontline islands of Kinmen or Matsu, which lie just off China's southeastern coast.

The latest change in policy meant the MND is going back to the original strategy it used for the four-month military service period when it was launched in January 2018.

The move to assigning conscripts to specialized units after boot camp was instituted in late 2018, but that is being reversed because having field unit experience will be more beneficial to soldiers than only having specialized training, said Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正).

The MND said in a statement, meanwhile, that field unit assignments will familiarize conscripts with the operations of troops on the front lines and prepare them better for combat to meet the military's goal of combining the training of active and reserve forces.

Meanwhile, Han Gan-ming (韓岡明), chief of MND's All-out Defense Mobilization Office, told lawmakers Monday that in the event of a war, as many as 215,000 reservists in Taiwan can be mobilized within 24 hours and another 78,000 placed on standby.

The reservists who will be called up immediately if a war breaks out will be those who were discharged from the military over the past eight years and would thus be considered more combat-ready, Han added.

(By Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh)

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