Former military chief opposes questioning by lawmakers

26 June, 2024

Courtesy of ICRT


Former Chief of the General Staff Lee Xi-min says he believes the chief of the general staff should not be questioned by lawmakers, as such a move could interfere with the training and command of the military.


The statement comes as current Chief of the General Staff Mei Jia-shu is scheduled to appear at a legislative hearing later today to face questions about this year's live-fire phase of the Han Kuang military exercise.


Lee says he doesn't agree with the chief of the general staff being asked to answer questions at the Legislative Yuan, which is concerned with defence policy and should not interfere with the training of troops. Lee says the chief of the general staff may not have as much power or influence as the defence minister during peacetime, but he leads the armed forces in wartime - and his time would be better spent planning how to lead the armed forces rather than on politics.


Today's hearing will be the first in 26 years that a chief of the general staff will be questioned by lawmakers at the Legislative Yuan. The last chief of the general staff to have faced questions in the legislative chamber was Tang Fei in 1998.

In unrelated defence news, the Taipei School of Economics and Political Science Foundation says the reinstatement of the one-year conscription could significantly increase personnel costs and negatively impact other military-related investments.


The Foundation's 2023-2024 National Defense Review shows the defence ministry expects to recruit 53,600 conscripts by 2029. That move raises the current cap on the military staff by about at least 14% to 250,000, which in turn would lead to an increase of NT$16.8 billion in personnel costs.


Chung Yuan University professor Alex Liu, who helped compile the review, says the rise in expenditure is expected to increase even more when factoring plans to assign 800 rounds of ammunition to each conscript for shooting training. Liu says training them to use "next-generation weapons" such as Kestrel anti-armour rockets, Stinger missiles, and drones will also increase spending.


The review also warned that the 12-month conscription period will ultimately contradict efforts to downsize the military and as such conscription will use up funding necessary for other military investments if the national defence budget is not increased. 

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