Fri, Mar 27, 2009 - Page 1 News List

DPP caucus chief slams change in military drill

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator slammed the government yesterday for changing the scenario for this year's military drill from defense against a Chinese military attack into military action in case of a “domestic crisis.”

The criticism came in the wake of local media reports that this year's Yushan exercises would not, as in the past, focus on a cross-strait military conflict, but rather on the government's ability to deal with domestic incidents, such as a disease outbreak, a major earthquake, a massive blackout, fuel supply cutoff or a financial crisis.

DPP caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said that treating the army as a resource for dealing with earthquakes or typhoons would have a negative impact on military morale.

Since these military exercises were meant to test the ability of the armed forces to protect the president in case of a military threat, Tsai said the change was proof of President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) intention to weaken national defense and undermine the military's capabilities.

A report by the Chinese-­language United Daily News said that the National Security Council (NSC) would change the status of Ma's first military simulation as president to a political and national simulation, in effect turning it into a matter of national strategy.

It said Ma would take part in the simulation — called Chung­hsing (中興) — in his capacity as commander-in-chief.

The Ministry of National Defense (MND), the Department of Health, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Affairs were all potential test targets during the exercise, the report said.

Asked for comment, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said that the MND's annual military drill had dealt with the possibility of a cross-strait military conflict many times in the past.

Lin said that the military was continuously holding military exercises and that it was right to test the nation's ability to respond to a financial or an energy crisis and other major issues.

KMT Legislator Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), a member of the legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee, also downplayed the council's decision.

Chang said it would be “alright” for the NSC to modify the scenario in response to warming cross-strait relations and the MND's plan to scrap compulsory military service, adding that doing so would be “pragmatic.”

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) declined to comment, saying the NSC was in charge of such matters and that it was still reviewing all possibilities.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG AND KO SHU-LING

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