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Sun, Jan 09, 2000 - Page 3 News List

MND planning joint operations for counterstrike

CODENAME `TIENKAN' The air force is building up technology for integrated counterattack plans in case of a possible surprise strike by Chinese forces

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A high-ranking defense official said yesterday the military will earmark a special budget next year, to develop a joint-operation system focusing on electronic and information warfare.

The system has already begun on an experimental basis in the air force and is set to be extended to the other sections of the armed forces once trials have been completed, said Lieutenant General Abe C. Lin (林勤經), director of the communication electronics and information bureau of the Ministry of National Defense (國?/43?/CHINESE>) while speaking at at a seminar on the military balance in the Taiwan Strait.

The initiative is the result of a recommendation by Chief of the General Staff General Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明), Lin said.

Lin declined to reveal the size of the budget for the project, which he said is still being planned.

The air force experiment is being conducted under the codename "Tienkan" (??z) and features the establishment of an electronic warfare unit using a modified C-130 aircraft as an operations platform.

"The Tienkan project will be extended from the air force to other forces in the future, since a joint-operation of all the forces is absolutely necessary for defense against potential military action by China," Lin said.

"Considering that the Taiwan Strait is comparatively narrow, an Su-27 fighter plane from China will need only around a minute to cross the strait to reach Taiwan's western coastline. Under such circumstances, only a joint operation of the forces would be capable of responding to an intrusion," he said.

"But there are some problems with the Tienkan project which have yet to be solved. For example, Tienkan units are planned to be stationed in eastern parts of Taiwan, rather than in western parts," Lin said. "But will eastern parts of the country be immune from first attacks?"

"Although our defense strategy has been re-oriented from offense-capable to self-defense, it does not mean that we will do nothing if we are under attack. We should develop a capability to launch a counterstrike immediately after we are attacked," Lin said.

Lin said that in last year's Hankuang military exercises, the red army (posing as the enemy) defeated the blue army (defense troops) for the first time in several decades by hacking into the computer systems of the blue army.

"The red army was able to penetrate into the computer systems because the blue army did not follow certain security codes. Following penetration of the blues' computer systems, soldiers of the red army altered combat orders for the blue army to confuse them or waste their efforts," Lin said.

An official with the army, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was not very difficult for users of the military's internal computer system to hack into computer networks of different units, as long as the target units do not follow security codes or do not take precaution against in-coming messages, whether in the form of combat orders or documents.

Major General Fu Tai-hsing (扶台?), director of the strategic institute of the Armed Forces University, admitted that for technical reasons Taiwan is still weak in its electronic warfare capability.

In order to develop information warfare, Fu called for an integration of military and civilian resources, saying, "The distinction between military and civilian resources will be blurred in the future in this area."

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