Accession Number:



Transformation of Taiwan's Reserve Force

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Research Report]

Corporate Author:

RAND Corporation

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Despite the growth in trade and investment between Taiwan and the Peoples Republic of China PRC over the past two decades, and relative stability in the overall relationship since 2008, prospects for the two governments resolving their political differences regarding sovereignty over Taiwan appear slim in the foreseeable future. From Beijings perspective, Taiwan and its democratic system of government pose an existential challenge to PRC authority. The PRC has long sought the political subordination of Taiwan under its One China principle, but people on Taiwan increasingly identify themselves as citizens of a state that is separate and distinct from the PRC. As a result, the Chinese Communist Party considers the capacity for use of force, including the invasion and occupation of Taiwan, to be the most important strategic mission of the Peoples Liberation Army PLA. Taiwan has relied on various material and intangible factors to deter PRC use of force and other forms of coercion, including shortcomings in the PLAs ability to project power significantly across the Taiwan Strait, technological advantages of Taiwans armed forces, and geographic characteristics of the Taiwan Strait. Many of these advantages, however, are eroding over time. Taiwan is taking important steps to deter PRC use of force and to defend itself should deterrence fail. Taiwans armed forces are improving their war reserve stocks, investing in a defense industrial base, advancing their ability to carry out joint operations, and strengthening their personnel system. In the area of personnel, fiscal limitations and a reduced force structure, alongside growing personnel costs and increased PLA military capabilities, highlight the need for more-innovative approaches to personnel management. To create a more streamlined military, Taiwan is transitioning to an all-volunteer force and reducing its active-duty force from 275,000 to approximately 175,000 personnel.


Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]