Fri, Sep 22, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Military chief says coup not possible

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Army Commander-in-Chief General Hu Chen-pu (胡鎮埔) yesterday said that the military would never carry out a military coup like the one in Thailand, and that safeguards were in place to prevent individual commanders from taking control of combat units.

"The military does not support either the pan-blue or the pan-green camp specifically. Soldiers obey their country's leader. The military's only color is camouflage," Hu said.

He made his remarks when he was approached by reporters for comments in response to concerns that a military coup might be a possiblity in Taiwan as well.

Hu said that the government was based on the Constitution.

The National Defense Act (國防法) puts the Minister of National Defense, not the service chiefs, in charge of the military. The minister reports directly to -- and can be replaced by -- the president.

A military coup has never been carried out in Taiwan, and would not occur in the future, he said.

Hu said that it would be impossible for an individual army commander to have the authorization to arm and deploy combat units. For instance, Hu said, a single officer could not deploy a fully armed tank.

He said that to order a tank to move from point A to point B would require authorization from the unit's commander, but that arming the tank would require authorization from the commander of a seperate unit.

In addition, all military vehicles -- including logistics and combat vehicles -- can only be armed with live rounds following authorization from the Minister of National Defense, even during an exercise.

"For myself, I only have authorization to order regular transportation. I do not have the authorization to order any combat vehicle deployments, although I am the army commander-in-chief," Hu said.

"As a result, a military coup in Taiwan?" he asked. "I think people simply worry too much."

Also see editorial:
Editorial: Far from Bangkok, close to Manila

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