Thu, Mar 04, 2004 - Page 8 News List

KMT plan would lead to nation's slaughter

By Parris Chang 張旭成

The performance of a country's national defense is very much determined by its military force structure, so the issue should be treated seriously rather than as a campaign slogan. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), however, has manipulated the issue as a campaign tactic. He promised to shorten compulsory military service to three months to win over young voters. It is an act that totally disregards national security.

Improper planning will lead to two consequences. One, national defense resources will be spent on personnel and weapons that a country's cannot afford. Two, an insufficient force will be unable to provide adequate defense for a country, thus turning a war into a slaughtering of its own nationals.

To decide on the size of the military force, the country's strategic environment, potential threats and defense resources must be taken into account. Other factors, such as human resources and financial growth, also need to be considered. Has Lien considered these issues?

According to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), "The government is working toward an enlistment system. Yet the objective cannot be reached in one or two years' time. Shortening military service abruptly without providing supporting measures is irresponsible since it brushes aside concern for national security."

The military must be streamlined first. Since taking office, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration has put forward a streamlining program that aims to gradually reduce the country's dependence on the draft. The program was formulated based on an assessment by the Ministry of National Defense. The assessment looked at the threat posed by enemies, strategic considerations, defense resources as well as weapons and equipment available. It was estimated that by 2006, the number of soldiers will be reduced to 340,000, and to 300,000 by 2012. Given current progress, the objective of reducing the military to a reasonable size and structure can be reached ahead of schedule.

A retired general, a KMT member, once said that with the increasing use of high-tech equipment, soldiers need to be better trained and that the DPP's plan to shorten military service to one year and 10 months does not help. He criticized the DPP for maintaining the draft while letting the force degenerate. If what he said is true, isn't the KMT's proposal to shorten the service to three months even more worrisome?

As ministry officials pointed out, upon recruitment, a rookie has to go through four kinds of training: basic, professional, combined and combat. These programs take at least half a year. Since future warfare will rely more on high technology, training will become more complicated and time-consuming. What Lien proposes is simply playing with fire.

Some may argue that as future battles are determined by high-tech weapons, only a few soldiers will be needed. Well, let's look at the US military's attack on Iraq last year. Although the US enjoyed absolute control over the sky by detonating more than 15,000 smart weapons, the launching of ground operations was inevitable.

Does the KMT think that Taiwan's high-tech weapons are more powerful than those of the US and that we don't need ground troops at all? Or does the party think that a miracle will save the country from its enemies?

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