Taiwan holds first training for female reservists

A group of 14 female reservists in Taiwan is undergoing military training this week, becoming the first women to do so.

Training of reservists had been limited to men. But Taiwan's defense ministry started including women this year as part of efforts to bolster defense capabilities in the face of China's increasing military pressure.

The 14 women reservists are taking part in the five-day training program that started Monday at a site in the northern city of Taoyuan.

On Thursday, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen visited the site to observe live-fire rifle exercises. She thanked the participants for their action and expressed hope that many more women would join.

Tsai said Taiwan stands on the frontlines of democracy's defense, and called for unity among the people, regardless of gender, in demonstrating resolve to defend their homeland.

Taiwan faces a chronic shortage of troops. The minimum term of service for volunteer enlisted soldiers, who are regarded as the main force, is set at four years. But a ministry report covering the past five years shows about 20 percent leave early for personal reasons each year.

The ministry plans to train 220 female reservists in the first year.