DPP Release 6th defense policy blue paper

The Democratic Progressive Party is pleased to announce the publication of its sixth defense policy blue paper titled “New Generation of Soldiers.” The paper calls for initiating reform of internal military affairs with personnel considerations as a core value, and strengthening the connection between the military and society.

The DPP Defense Policy Advisory Committee launched a series of defense policy blue papers in June 2013. There were many Taiwanese and American experts, as well as several retired Taiwanese generals and admirals, who offered their valuable advice and insight during the process. The DPP is a responsible political party which values Taiwan’s national security and will continue publishing the Defense Policy Blue Papers on issues such as force planning, budget, and service personnel throughout this year.

For the full report in Mandarin, please click here.

Defense Policy Blue Paper No. 6


New Generation of Soldiers

Honor and dignity are due to our brave soldiers. Re-establishing this respect for our soldiers within Taiwanese society is a priority objective in the Democratic Progressive Party’s defense policy agenda, while “competent and democratic defense governance” is the new guiding concept for the DPP’s future defense policy implementation. The tragedy of Corporal Hung Chung-chiu’s death in July 2013 revealed a myriad of problems in Taiwan’s military governance, and reinforced our conviction that the military’s public prestige can only be rehabilitated by strengthening the connection between the armed forces and the population at large, and by rebuilding society’s respect for the sincerity of the service members’ sacrifice.

The concept of “competent and democratic defense governance” will move us past the traditional modes of defense management thinking, oriented exclusively toward the achievement of narrowly-defined objectives and benchmarks of efficiency. Without sacrificing the effective accomplishment of defined missions, defense governance should also instill a new set of values of national defense—that is, not only to protect Taiwan’s way of life, but also to reflect our societal progress. The absence of competent governance weakens national defense and erodes our ability to safeguard Taiwan’s core national interests, while the absence of democratic governance may lead to autocracy, which would likewise be contrary to the core national interests of Taiwan we are trying to protect. Under the concept of competent and democratic defense governance, Taiwan’s armed forces are not only a combination of personnel and equipment, but also a reflection of the collective values and identity of Taiwan’s society. The lessons that we should draw from the tragedy of Corporal Hung’s death are to strengthen the connection and identity between the military and society, as well as to develop the institutions and culture that will allow the military to break free from previous abusive practices.

Among the recommendations proposed by the Defense Policy Advisory Committee, two areas are worth highlighting:

(1) Initiate reform of internal military affairs with personnel considerations as a core value. Personnel and equipment are equally important, but issues of personnel retention and quality are frequently ignored. A nearly 20-year force reduction program in place since 1997 has already induced large-scale waves of retirement by officers and non-commission officers. The result is that we are losing high-quality talent while expenditures on veteran benefits rise, with an overall negative impact on military morale, defense capabilities and the balance of government finances. The next phase of the downsizing plan—the Yong Gu Program—should not be implemented hastily before a comprehensive review of our military strategy, mission, force requirement, and military service system. Moreover, in order to cultivate the experience, professionalism, and leadership skills of the officer and NCO corps, existing regulations regarding time-in-service requirements for rank promotions, service time and age limits, and required time-in-service for vital assignments, all need to be reexamined. A reform of the personnel promotion system should also be considered, with the end of overcoming corruption and favoritism to select the most qualified cadres on the basis of merit. Bureaucracy should be reduced so that the time and manpower tied up by red tape can better be used to carry out and refine various categories of tactical and professional training. Efficiency needs to be increased by minimizing unproductive overtime and unnecessary duties and assignments. Old habits of deception must be abolished, and a new military ethos built up through an emphasis on rigor and realism in training.

(2) Strengthen the connection between the military and society. Civil and disaster-relief operations should be integrated into the military’s routine training regimen. Cooperation between military units and local public and private sectors must be intensified in order to build an army with local connection and home-grown identity. Public participation in defense affairs should be encouraged. Multiple veteran associations should be supported. Private industries’ contribution to our national defense must be expanded, so that the vibrant research and development capacity present in the private sector can be leveraged as a major pillar of support for building up our military capabilities and improving our military education and training. We also need civil society to assist the military in fighting against corruption and in identifying risks to human rights. Increasing the number of civilian officials can help to enhance the overall organizational culture of the defense establishment.

As the DPP chairperson and the President of The New Frontier Foundation, I would like to express my gratitude to these 46 ex-military personnel who participated in the development of this report. You let society hear the military’s internal voice of self-reflection and self-reform, making the public aware of the military’s own hopes for change and progress after the tragedy of Corporal Hung’s death. The DPP also appreciates your frank assessments. We promise to redouble our efforts, and we commit to standing shoulder to shoulder alongside the new generation of soldiers as we walk toward the path of national defense reform.

Ing-Wen Tsai

President, New Frontier Foundation


New Frontier Foundation
CEO: Chuan LIN
Vice CEO: Tai-San Chiu

Defense Policy Advisory Committee
Convener: York W. CHEN
Staff: Paul HUANG
Standing Members: Wen-Chung LEE, Michael KO, Chen-Pu HU, Ming-Hsien WONG, Benny Hsiang-Shun LIAO, Tien-Lin LU, Michael M. TSAI, Tzu-Yun SU

And three anonymous retired Taiwanese generals and admirals, one anonymous retired colonel.

The Committee thanks DPP Secretary General Joseph Wu for his supervision and coordination, Michael J. Fonte, Iris Shaw, and Janice Chen fortheir best assistance in translation as well as 46 ex-military friends, Shao-Shuen Hsu, Le-Yi Chi and Essen Lee for their contributions in preparing this report.

Defense Policy Blue Papers

DEF-PUB 01 DPP’s National Defense Agenda
DEF-PUB 02 Transforming the CSIST: Strengthening Indigenous Defense
Research and Development
DEF-PUB 03 An Accountable National Security Council
DEF-PUB 04 New Chapter for Taiwan-U.S. Defense Partnership
DEF-PUB 05 China’s Military Threats against Taiwan in 2025
DEF-PUB 06 New Generation of Soldiers