Taiwan's volunteer military set for new milestone

Taipei, Feb. 19 (CNA) Nearly 2,800 Taiwanese men are set to become the first individuals subject to new military service rules as Taiwan begins its transition toward an all-volunteer military. The conscription age men, who would have been required to perform a year of compulsory military service in the past, will begin a four-month mandatory training period on Wednesday. A total of 2,203 men will be sent to the Chengkungling military training base in Taichung, and 580 will be trained at a military base in Chiayi County. They will do two months of boot camp followed by two months of specialist training, the military said Tuesday. Taiwan instituted the transition to an all-volunteer defense force to develop a leaner but more professional and flexible military and make better use of the country's human resources. To bring about the change, all Taiwanese men born after Jan. 1, 1994 were made exempt from one-year compulsory military service. After training for four months, the trainees will return to their regular lives, but they will be subject to be recalled for further training within eight years to maintain their combat skills. They will also have the option of enlisting voluntarily and follow a professional military track. The military said the new training regimen will require young servicemen to meet higher physical requirements than have been mandated under the one-year military service system. They will have to complete 37 push-ups within two minutes, compared with 25 previously, and run 3,000 meters in 18 minutes, down from 19 minutes. Young men who were born before 1994 but who have not been called up by the time compulsory military service ends will still have to serve for a year, but will be able to perform alternative service in a non-military capacity during the transitional period. (By Elaine Hou)