On August 25, the Ministry of National Defense announced that because the number of soldiers that have been recruited are less than planned, the drafting of conscripts born before 1993 will be postponed to the end of next year. Around 23,100 are estimated to be affected and plans for conscripts born after 1994 to receive standard military training will not be changed.

UDN reports, the Legislative Yuan passed the amendment of the Act Of Military Service System at the end of 2011. In January the following year, the Executive Yuan approved the program for voluntary soldiers and set an end date for military conscription. The original plan was to reach a fully voluntary force by the end of 2014, but not enough soldiers volunteered, so on September 12, 2013, the Ministry of National Defense announced postponing the law for two years. The recent statement will be the second time it will be delayed.

The ministry says that according to the program for voluntary soldiers, starting from January 1, 2016, there will not be one-year conscripts born before 1993 and all soldiers will be volunteers. But evaluating the number of soldiers recruited up to now, it is impossible to reach 90 percent of the target number of soldiers. So in order to ensure the military capability won’t be affected, there is still a need to draft conscripts.

China Times reports, due to lack of manpower, the military has long been preying on the substitute service for extra soldiers. If Taiwan aims to build an all-voluntary force by the end of next year, conscripts born before 1993 (around 110,000 people) will be drafted into the substitute service. But they can not work overtime nor can they be sentinels. The military can only continue to recruit conscripts born before 1993.

The ministry says that it recruited 15,024 soldiers in 2014, which is 4,000 more than 2012 and 2013. It plans to draft 14,000 soldiers in 2015 and have already reached 11,865 by August 25, hitting the goal of each stage.

61.4 percent of voluntary soldiers stayed in camp in 2014, which is 15.1 percent higher compared to the average two years earlier. Up to now, 70.2 percent of the soldiers have remained in camp this year. Looking at the manpower of the voluntary force comprehensively, it has been steadily increasing since 2014.

On March 10, the ministry held a routine press conference and said in order to prepare for the program for voluntary soldiers at the end of 2016, all compulsory military personnel will leave camp at the end of next year. This year will also be the final year conscripts born before 1993 will be drafted. Bai Jie-long, vice chief of the Department of Resources Planning under the ministry, stated the target number of voluntary soldiers recruited was at least 14,000. If they reached this number and the rate of soldiers staying at camp increased, then the required manpower would be met. But only six months has passed and the program has already been postponed until the end of next year.

Translated by Olivia Yang