Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A professional military comes at a cost

Creating an all-volunteer force is a hugely expensive endeavor that requires fundamental changes in training and organization. Getting it wrong could severely undermine national defense

The Ministry of National Defense confirmed on Thursday that it would implement an all-volunteer military system next year and drastically cut down on the military training citizens born after 1993 will have to undergo.

Plans to create a professional military did not begin with the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). Not only did Ma allude to a similar commitment in 2008, but the idea was already being discussed under former President Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government.

Why two administrations that tend to disagree with each other on so many issues have both expressed a desire to create an all-volunteer military is simple: It makes sense — at least on paper.

However, if such a plan were to materialize next year, the legislature would either have to be willing to release extraordinary budgets or substantially increase the annual defense budget. Judging from its performance in the past four years, the Ma administration, even with his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) enjoying a super-majority in the legislature, has shown no inclination to release such a budget.

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.


Michael Fagan said...

On Tsai: perhaps I haven't been paying quite enough attention, but I have yet to see anybody ask her a serious question on defense, which is as remarkable as it is unsurprising.

Michael, could you perhaps elaborate on why you phrased your reporting as "Tsai... is believed to support a dual-track military..." - is it because nobody has put this sort of question to her directly?

J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...

@Mike: Indeed, she has not been pushed on defense, nor has she volunteered much in that regard. As to your second question, I have it on good authority that this is the case — or at least that this is what her advisers are pushing for — but here again, she has not, for some reason known only to her and her advisers, made that public.