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Taiwan military asked to address poor retention rates of foreign-trained soldiers

Control Yuan conducts review, suggests points for improvement

Taiwanese soldiers who trained at West Point Military Academy perform in New York in April. (CNA photo)

Taiwanese soldiers who trained at West Point Military Academy perform in New York in April. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The supervisory branch of Taiwan’s government has said that most soldiers sent overseas for military training apply for discharge as soon as they can, and asked Taiwan’s military to review its practices and improve retention rates.

The Control Yuan issued a press release on Tuesday (Nov. 28) that said its foreign affairs and national defense committees had conducted a full review of the military’s retention of foreign-trained soldiers. Taiwan’s military selects high-performing individuals to train in military academies, most prominently the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The investigation found that overseas-trained personnel applying for early discharge was particularly high in Taiwan's Army, and there is room for improvement. The Ministry of National Defense committed to conducting a review of each wing of the armed forces and creating plans for improving retention rates for foreign-trained personnel.

One high-profile case of a foreign-trained soldier who applied for early discharge was in 2022, when Hung Wan-ting (洪琬婷) left the Army, per CNA. Hung was Taiwan’s first female officer to graduate from West Point and retired after her minimum service term was up, despite the military attempting to convince her otherwise.

Members of the Control Yuan’s investigation committee said that Taiwanese soldiers sent abroad for training mainly attend U.S. institutions, or those in South or Central American countries that are diplomatically allied with Taiwan. However, the body said that due to the changing regional situation, South Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asian countries should be considered as locations to send troops for training.

The Control Yuan also said the defense ministry should seek to strengthen relationships with the Five Eyes countries, which in addition to the U.S. are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U.K. It has also been recommended to review the nature of training arrangements, including length and content.

Taiwan News interview with a Taiwanese West Point female graduate.