Tue, Mar 17, 2009 - Page 1 News List

MND releases review, announces cuts

ASYMMETRICALWhile announcing a 16 percent cut in military personnel over five years, the military confirmed that missile development programs were still in place

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of National Defense said yesterday the military would cut personnel from 275,000 to 215,000 over the next five years.

The plans were part of the ministry’s Quadrennial Defense Review, which was made public at a press conference.

The military has also announced plans to complete a transition to an all-volunteer force by December 2014.

The review said the Military Police Command would be dissolved, with some of its personnel transferred to the army.

Asked at the legislature whether the abolition of the military police would have a negative impact on the defense of the capital and the president, Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) said the army would form a command in Taipei to replace the military police and ensure continuity.

The defense review is the result of an amendment to the National Defense Act (國防法) requiring the ministry to provide a four-year review to the legislature.

Meanwhile, the military said yesterday that programs for the development of short and medium-range missiles, launched under the former Democratic Progressive Party government, were still in place.

Asked for comment by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴) about the status of the program during a Diplomacy and National Defense Committee meeting, Chen said: “The development of Hsiung Feng II-E was approved by the legislature. The development will continue unless the legislature passes a resolution stopping it.”

“We see the Hsiung Feng II-E as a defensive weapon, which would be used to attack an enemy’s military bases to delay its military action in wartime,” he said.

Taiwan successfully test-fired the Hsiung Feng-II anti-ship missile, developed by the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, in 2002.

The missile, which has a range of more than 150km, can be fired from land, sea and air. Taiwan was also developing the Hsiung Feng-III, with a range of 300km, that would make China’s southern and eastern coasts possible targets. The missiles were developed with the aim of deterring the People’s Liberation Army navy, the government said at the time.

Since taking office last year, the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has been accused by opposition lawmakers of appeasing China by shying away from developing offensive weapons.

Former deputy minister of national defense Michael Tsai (蔡明憲) said on Sunday he was concerned that the Ma government would mothball the programs.

Part of the budget for the development of the Hsiung Feng II-E was frozen in October 2007 by KMT legislators, led by then KMT legislator Su Chi (蘇起), who is now National Security Council secretary-general. At the time, Su said it was an offensive weapon that would put Shanghai within range, adding that Taiwan should not be developing offensive weapons.

The legislature unfroze the budget in December 2007 following cross-party negotiations.

The review said the military was developing a doctrine for asymmetric warfare in light of the military balance in the Taiwan Strait having tipped in China’s favor.

"Developing advanced information warfare capabilities and weapons such as the Hsiung Feng II-E are military strategies for asymmetric warfare,” Deputy Chief of General Staff for Operations and Planning Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) told the press conference.

Also yesterday, Vice Admiral Li Hsi-ming (李喜明) said Taiwan should not make concrete moves to reduce military tensions with China before there is a domestic consensus to do so and political trust develops between the sides.

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