Thu, Jan 26, 2006 - Page 8 News List

KMT's arms proposal insulting to the military

By Wang Jyh-perng 王志鵬

According to media reports, some of the members of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) arms procurement workgroup have proposed that Taiwan adopt a "defensive national defense" model and exclude submarines from the proposed arms purchase. This suggestion has caught the attention of KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who has announced that he is planning to submit a KMT version of the arms procurement bill during the next legislative session.

The purchase list in that version might include defensive weapons such as rapid-response helicopters and tactical missiles, and re-enforced construction materials such as bomb-resistant and strong, quick-drying cement.

I sincerely hope that this list is just the result of interpretations taken out of context by reporters. If correct, such a list could only be described as the efforts of an outsider trying to pose as an expert.

Let's first discuss the meaning of "defensive national defense." The military has for several decades had one overbearing goal: defense. The 2003 national defense report once again clearly stated that the goal of the nation's military preparedness, as well as its motto, was to build an effective deterrent, ensure a fundamental defensive capability and develop defensive counter-strike capabilities in the hope of preventing war.

Some KMT and People First Party legislators have said that the P-3C marine patrol aircraft should not be purchased because such planes are considered an offensive weapon. This is nothing less than creating a ridiculous new meaning for an established military concept.

Due to the rapid development of military technology, it has long been very difficult to differentiate between offensive and defensive military equipment -- it is all simply a matter of strategy.

Even if a peace-loving country is in possession of weapons of mass destruction, it will only use them for defensive purposes, while a belligerent country can use defensive weapons in an offensive way.

Second, the KMT's ideas about quick-drying cement and the version of the arms procurement bill that it plans to propose in March are nothing short of ridiculous.

The reconstruction of military power is based on the concept that the military should be rebuilt in a decade, with the armed forces being rebuilt over five years. There is an overall logic and continuity to this idea.

Although it is the duty of the KMT as an opposition party to monitor the military's reconstruction, it should not put itself in the place of the Ministry of Defense and replace the ministry's arms procurement proposal with its own version, let alone a version with such a narrow-minded approach and of such low military strategic value.

What's more, if every legislative party caucus were to propose their own version, choosing the particular party's favorite arms, they would be humiliating the military and attacking its expertise.

They would also bring chaos to existing plans and operations, and maybe further delay overall military reconstruction.

It could also lead to disputes over whether agreements with arms dealers lie behind proposed purchases.

There is in fact no lack of people with a comprehensive understanding of military strategy in the KMT.

I hope that they will give the legislature room for expert, rational discussion of the Ministry of National Defense's proposal, instead of engaging in politicized and irresponsible grandstanding, which would only create a lose-lose situation for the opposition, the government, as well as national defense.

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