TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A U.S. military delegation visiting Taiwan last month observed that the nation's military continues to follow a conventional war strategy, Financial Times cited people familiar with the matter as saying.
“They saw that our military is proficient on the tactical level, but lacks strategic thinking capabilities,” one source said. The delegation came to Taiwan to assess its military and identify what it could gain from deeper cooperation with U.S. counterparts, the Financial Times reported.
The trip came as Taiwan extended compulsory military service from four months to one year, as part of an effort to boost defense capabilities to deter a Chinese attack. Military analysts have labeled the conscription reform as nothing more than an “emergency measure” to address chronically low recruit numbers, which transitioning to an all-volunteer force could not fix, per the Financial Times.
“They are basically going back to what was in place in 2008, before the force reductions started,” Financial Times quoted Kitsch Liao, military and cyber affairs consultant for Taipei-based think tank Doublethink Lab, as saying. “While you have to give the president credit for reviving that system, they are not addressing the problem of military power, which is the core of deterrence.”
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Tuesday (Dec. 27) announced that beginning Jan. 1, 2024, males born on or after Jan. 1, 2005, must serve one year of military service. Additionally, the monthly salary for conscripts will be raised from the current NT$6,510 (US$211) to NT$26,307.
Tsai said boot camp will last longer and be more intense, as troops receive more marksmanship training and learn close-quarter combat tactics.
"Peace will not fall from the sky," the president said, adding that "only by preparing for war can we avoid war.”
The U.S. has praised Taiwan’s conscription reform. “We welcome Taiwan’s recent announcement on conscription reform, which underscores Taiwan’s commitment to self-defense and strengthens deterrence,” Nikkei cited a White House spokesperson as saying on Tuesday (Dec. 27).