Thu, Mar 20, 2014 - Page 8 News List

New head needs to beef up security

By Parris Chang 張旭成

According to sources in the Pentagon, Taiwan’s arms procurement policy has suffered from the lack of coherent and integrative strategic planning. Over the years, its focus has been on buying new and costly hardware for each of the services, without enough emphasis on training, logistics and maintenance. Hence, the new security council boss must step in to guide and help shape a sound defense strategy and arms procurement policy. To do his job well, King must do his “homework” on Taiwan’s threat assessment and the corresponding defense strategy and requisite weapons systems, enabling him to advise and convince Ma.

How well and how long can Taiwan’s military forces withstand a full-scale attack?

“At least one month” was Minister of National Defense Yen Ming’s (嚴明) reply to a legislator’s interpellation on March 6; but most defense experts do not regard the answer as credible. Nevertheless, they agree that Taiwan must devise and carry out an asymmetric defense strategy that could inflict heavy losses on the invaders if the Chinese army were to stage an attack on Taiwan.

Such a strategy would require Taiwan to deploy supersonic land attack as well as anti-ship missiles like the HF-3, which can strike at China’s airports and missile bases in the coastal regions and China’s naval ships in the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan must also fully utilize its potent, sophisticated information technology to develop robust and advanced cyberwar capabilities and build a small, but high-caliber Internet army to wage a defensive information warfare.

If Taiwan’s Internet army has the capacity to attack and cripple the Chinese army’s command, control, computers, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaisance systems (C4ISR), then Beijing is less likely to contemplate an attack in the first place.

In recent years, a Chinese espionage offensive has seriously damaged Taiwan’s national security, as numerous current and retired Taiwanese military officers have been seduced by money, sex and other favors to steal military secrets for Beijing’s intelligence services. The major targets of the espionage campaign were classified information on Taiwan’s C4ISR and the US weapons sold to Taiwan. The loss of these sensitive secrets has been harmful not only to Taiwan’s defense efforts.

“[It also] serves to undermine US confidence in security cooperation with Taiwan,” as former AIT director William Stanton pointed out in a public speech To compensate for Ma’s willful blindness to Beijing’s aggressive espionage and Taiwan’s serious security risks, the new security council head’s priority is to launch an intensive counter-espionage drive to catch Chinese spies and safeguard Taiwan’s national security. It is particularly worrying that more US academics have been calling for the US to abandon Taiwan, at a time when Ma sees the Taiwan-US relations as better than ever. University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer’s advice for the US to “say goodbye to Taiwan” does not resonate with the Americans at large, nor with the mainstream opinion of the Washington community.

However, Taiwan can ill afford to overlook Beijing’s charm offensive in the US. Its wily united front operations seek to win over influential intellectuals and research groups, and to persuade retired generals who retain connections with policymakers that the US interests would be better served if Washington were to terminate its security commitment to Taiwan and cut off arms sales.

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