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Wed, Jan 03, 2001 - Page 3 News List

First information warfare group put into service

DEFENSE The new force's purpose is to counter potential threats from China, but one analyst cast doubt on whether military personnel had the ability to achieve this goal

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The military inaugurated its first information warfare (IW) force on Monday as part of its efforts to handle military threats that may appear in the new century, the Ministry of National Defense announced yesterday.

The IW force was established mainly to cope with potential threats from China in the field, said Major General Chen Wen-chien (陳文建), deputy director of the communication electronics and information bureau, under the defense ministry.

"We started planning for the new unit in 1998 as we saw the vast efforts made by the Chinese military to upgrade its information attack capabilities. It is to operate under the communication and information command of the Ministry of National Defense," Chen said.

"The unit exists for two main purposes. The first is to maintain the security of computer networks in use in the armed forces. The second is to contribute to the overall information security of the country using its specialized knowledge of technology," Chen said.

"Efforts in this direction are also in line with the Executive Yuan's plan to establish a national information safety mechanism. Work is still underway for the establishment of the mechanism," he said.

Chen made the remarks yesterday at a regular press conference of the defense ministry in response to inquiries from the press over the IW unit's inauguration.

Chen declined to reveal details of the structure of the force or the number of personnel in the unit. He did admit, however, that the force will be enlarged and strengthened in the future.

"The unit will become more consolidated after recruiting additional specialized personnel from different branches of the armed forces.

"For the moment, the unit is staffed by personnel with the Ministry of National Defense's recently-decommissioned `unified communication command,' the predecessor of the new communication and information command," Chen said.

"We did not widen our selection of personnel mainly because of restrictions brought by the ongoing Chingshih personnel streamlining project. But the current staff of the unit should be capable of handling their new tasks since what they are doing is almost the same as what they did before," he said.

"The new communication and information command has branches around the island. In the future, we will establish information safety task forces on the basis of these branches," he said.

"Information security is now the top priority task of the military. Our objective is to fend off any potential information assaults from China in the future," he added.

In contrast to the major-general's outlook, however, an information technology specialist, who declined to be identified, cast doubts about the military's ability to turn the new IW unit into a truly specialized force in the field.

"We know that information specialists in the military can not compete with their civilian counterparts either in knowledge or experience. The first IW unit, as far as I know, is comprised mainly of military personnel," the specialist said.

"Can we trust them with the highly difficult task of information security? The military must recruit more civilian talent if it is serious about what it is doing," he said.

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