The military has designated this year as the "training year," during which a series of joint-forces live-fire exercises will be held to test the results of the modernization of the armed forces over the past few years, the defense ministry said yesterday.
The Hankuang No. 17 exercise is to be the largest of a series of drills to take place during the training year. It is to be held between March and April in both northern and southern parts of the country, the ministry said.
Minor maneuvers planned for the year range from live-fire artillery or anti-aircraft shooting drills to be held at regular intervals, to field exercises between competing units.
Meanwhile, US-made Patriot air defense missiles are scheduled to be test-fired at the same time as the Hankuang No. 17 exercise, according to defense sources. It will be the first time that the Patriot is to be fired on a trial basis outside US territory.
"Due to the upcoming completion of the Chingshih personnel streamlining project this year, the armed forces are getting close to transforming into a new and modern force. We are now at a crucial moment. This is why the ministry is designating this year as a training year," said ministry spokesman Major General Huang Sui-sheng (
"Training programs this year will highlight an increase in the number of joint-forces exercises. They are aimed at upgrading the joint-strike capabilities of the armed forces. Exercises of this kind are to become routine in the future," Huang said.
Huang also gave an explanation as to why this year's Hankuang exercise is to be held earlier than usual, attempting to dispel speculation that there is a connection between the new date for the exercises and plans for a large-scale military parade to be held in the front of the presidential office on Oct. 10, national day. The Hankuang-series exercises, held annually since 1984, used to take place yearly between May and August.
"There are objective considerations for an earlier launch of the Hankuang exercise. In the future, the Hankuang-series exercise will be held at the same time each year -- between March and April," Huang said.
Reasons cited by Huang include a need to determine problems through the exercise, information which is then used as the basis for reviewing and enhancing troop training and for allocating funds over the rest of the year.
* Combat Simulations
Hankuang (漢光）No. 17 between March and April
* Mobilization drills
1. Wanan (萬安), June
2. Tunghsing (同心), held as part of the Hankuang
3. Chihchiang (自強), held as part of the Hankuang
* Safety drills1. Nuclear safety drill (organized by the Atomic Energy Council), June
2. Chemical safety drill (organized by the Environmental Protection Administration), May
* Training exercises
1. Combined maneuvers:
A. Ground troops competition tests once every two to three months
B. Competition tests between naval warships as well as those between marine units once in April, August and November
* Joint live-fire drills
To be undertaken by the army, navy and air force once every two months * Ground-air drills
To be launched once every month or as units are completing their yearly base training programs* Ground-sea drills
To be launched on Kinmen, Matsu, Tungyin (one of the Matsu archipelago), and Penghu once every quarter as well as once every half a year on Wuchiu island* Sea-air drills
Scheduled for one to two times every month * Anti-aircraft drills
To be launched without warning in Taiwan and the offshore islands five to six times each month
* Heavy artillery drills
To take place in each "war zone" once a month between April and August
Source: Taipei Times
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