Sun, Apr 28, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Terry Gou defense ideas incorrect

By Ray Song 宋磊

On April 15, Hon Hai Group chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) said Taiwan should stop purchasing arms from the US because Washington has been selling old equipment to the nation for many years.

His comment drew attention because it shows that he draws conclusions from generalizations and ignores the long-term friendship between the two nations’ armed forces.

Saying that all arms sold to Taiwan by the US are secondhand is simply untrue. Many of the arms to be purchased or that have been received by the nation’s armed forces are new systems and even newly manufactured, including the latest F-16V jets, MIM-104F Patriot surface-to-air missiles, AIM-120 medium-range air-to-air missiles and AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles purchased by the air force.

The army’s Boeing AH-64E Apache helicopters, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles, as well as the navy’s RIM-66A Standard missiles and MK48 torpedoes, are also new.

The armed forces do have some secondhand equipment, such as M60A3 tanks, which have served in the army for a long time.

However, experts with knowledge about the basic nature of defensive equipment will be familiar with the concept that strong combat capabilities can be maintained before second-hand gear reaches the end of its operational service life.

Reconstructing and upgrading operating systems also helps retain combat capabilities.

The Bell AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters and the OH-58D Kiowa reconnaissance helicopters of the Army Aviation and Special Forces Command are good examples. Many years of deployment experience show that helicopters are capable of conducting anti-landing and anti-airborne operations. Their impressive performance at the annual Han Kuang military exercises further proves that secondhand equipment can still perform.

As the US-Taiwan arm sales have been regular, despite numerous transitions of political power in Taiwan and changes to national defense policy, the US can always be relied on as the greatest safeguard of the nation’s security.

Arms sales not only make up for the insufficiency in combat capabilities and technological power, but also carry vital political implications. Discrediting arms sales out of hand could destroy the long-term mutual political trust between Taiwan and the US, and even weaken the combat capabilities of the armed forces.

Seen in this light, sustaining Taiwan-US relations should not only be founded upon mutual political trust, but also on interactions of national defense, which have been part of a tacit agreement between the two sides for years.

Anyone who wants to run for president needs to have a practical understanding of the relationship. After all, Taiwan is of great importance to the US, Japan and regional security in the Asia-Pacific.

The nation cannot be too careful about its defense, as shunning it could severely affect regional stability.

Ray Song is a graduate from the Institute of Strategic and International Affairs at National Chung Cheng University.

Translated by Chang Ho-ming.

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