Reservists can’t meet post-2020 demand: report
The total number of reservists may not be sufficient to meet the nation’s defensive needs after 2020, a recently released National Audit Office (NAO, ) report says.
In the NAO’s annual report on the central government’s budget for the 2014 fiscal year, released late Wednesday, the government audit unit warns that the combat readiness of the nation’s reservists has dropped over recent years, with more than 70 percent of reservists never having been mustered to maintain their basic combat skills.
The number of reserve officers is decreasing as well, with the continuing downsizing of Taiwan’s troop numbers and the military’s ongoing transformation from the existing conscription system into a fully voluntary force.
In 2014, a total of 286,746 discharged soldiers, among them 28,215 officers, were listed by the R.O.C. Reserve Command as reservists.
This number will continue to drop until after 2020, when the estimated number of reservists, especially reserve officers, will not be able to meet the demand of the nation’s defense requirements, according to the NAO report.
The report urges the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to draw up concrete plans to address the dwindling number of reservists.
Asked to comment, the MND said in a statement that the military has been doing its best to make sure that the nation has enough reservists in case war breaks out.
Because of the R.O.C. Armed Forces’ transformation into a fully voluntary force by the end of 2016, most Taiwanese men will no longer need to serve one-year compulsory military service and will instead only need to undergo four months of military training.
But the military will continue to train those who undergo the fourmonth training to become qualified reserve officers.
The MND added that it will promote more reservists who have been mustered more often to the officer ranks in order to ensure the required number of reserve officers.
By doing so, there will be no shortage of reservists, especially reserve officers, the MND vowed.
Reservists are mustered every two years for training at a military base near their residences for training aimed at maintaining their basic combat skills, accord- ing to MND’s Reserve Command.
The current regulations stipulate that a reservist can expect a maximum of four muster calls within eight years of being discharged.
The training includes specialty retraining, firearms training, combat training, combined training, and disaster prevention and relief, which are all necessary for combat operations and disaster relief, the command said.