China: January 24, 2005


Taiwan is converting its armed forces to an all-volunteer force. Noting the success of other all-volunteer forces (especially the U.S. and Britain), and being able to afford this approach, the conversion will take up to a decade. Some conscription will be retained, mainly to support a reserve force. The reserve troops would be needed if China every tried to invade. Within three years, sixty percent of all troops will be career professionals. By 2008, conscripts will only have to serve one year of active duty. Currently, conscripts serve 33 months, and are paid only $173 a month. Professionals get an average $1,100 a month. The armed forces has found that many military skills take longer than 33 months to obtain. Even skills that can be obtained within 33 months, get better the longer the troops serve. For a long time, Taiwan has been urged by the United States to upgrade the quality of its troops. With China rapidly upgrading its forces, and the success of U.S. troops in the last two decades, Taiwan has finally been convinced. It remains to be seen if Taiwan can carry out this plan. On the bright side, there is the example of Singapore, a Chinese nation that has created a first rate military force. On the down side, there is centuries of Chinese experience with peace time military plans that produce grand ideas, but inept troops.


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