With a Wary Eye on China, Taiwan Moves to Revamp Its Military

With a Wary Eye on China, Taiwan Moves to Revamp Its Military

With a Wary Eye on China, Taiwan Moves to Revamp Its Military

With a Wary Eye on China, Taiwan Moves to Revamp Its Military

That includes sea mines, submarines and missile systems that could destroy Chinese aircraft and warships before they reach the island. Others have suggested training units for guerrilla warfare to grind down conventional forces of the type the Chinese would land in an invasion, replicating a strategy used by smaller countries facing larger adversaries, like Estonia or Finland.

Ms. Tsai’s government has pledged to undertake reforms, though as Mr. Wang, the lawmaker, said, the changes in strategy and procurement will take time. “Taiwan is competing with time, not only with the P.L.A.,” he said.

Another challenge has been filling the ranks. Under President Ma, when relations improved a bit, Taiwan began to phase out mandatory conscription for all young men, which was deeply unpopular, in favor of an all-volunteer force.

The number of ground troops has since fallen to 140,000, down from 200,000 in 2005. Personnel costs of paying for professional soldiers now eat up more of the budget.

Young men are now required to complete only four months of compulsory service — Taiwan does not draft women — and then to join the reserves.

Training, however, is considered “insufficient to meet the challenges posed by the increasing threat,” according to a 2017 report produced by the RAND Corporation for the Pentagon. Ms. Tsai’s government has sought to address that, arguing that integrating the reserves is “one of the focal points of our current military reforms.”

The beachside military exercise in Taichung last month showcased reserve forces practicing alongside active-duty troops in a live-fire drill for the first time, an effort to highlight the strength of the reserves. “We want the world to see our determination and efforts to protect our country,” Ms. Tsai said.


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