Thursday, March 22, 2012

Is it a right time for an “all-volunteer” military?

“To maintain an army for a thousand days to use it for an hour” is an old Chinese saying depicting that a nation should own her armed forces ready for use in times of war. This phrase also serves as a warning to those who consider peacetime military expenses out of proportion to its value of existence, because it would be too late to train the men when the enemy is at the gate.

As we are about to start off an “all-volunteer” military in 2014, many question that the Ministry of Defense is able to recruit enough men and women to form a capable fighting force. In addition to manpower, budget cut is probably a problem more desperate to MOD than possible invasion by People’s Liberation Army. According to a report by today’s United Daily, the annual defense budgetary deduction by NTD30 billion to 40 billion has forced the military to cut money needed for “invisible” operations---replacement of parts, fuel, and training etc. Where is the money for all those volunteer soldiers? 

Problems have already emerged out of the cut. The navy’s most powerful but fuel-guzzling Kidd-class frigates were forced to dock long to save fuel consumption and won a reluctant nickname as “Queen of the Dock” because they were exempted from sea patrol.

Professor Huang Jie-zheng of Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, Tamkang University, urged the military to tell the truth instead of saying “Yes, Sir!” or “We’ll get the job done.” all the time. Huang said the military should consider either prolonging their build-up a “all-volunteer” force or trying to get more money by downsizing, saving money, or selling land.   

Military presence is the most effective and substantial deterrent when Taiwan is in danger. The authorities involved should work harder to economize the limited budget, train troops that fight, and see to their pay. 

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