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Thu, Feb 08, 2001 - Page 4 News List

Military to build arms, reduce forces

DEFENSE STRATEGY In a bid to build a more `modern force,' the defense ministry said it will further streamline personnel and focus on arms acquisition

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

National Defense Minister Wu Shih-wen (伍世文) announced an arms build-up program yesterday that will take place over the next five years. He also said that armed forces personnel will be downsized during the same period.

"The Chingshih personnel streamlining project, to be completed in the middle of this year, has successfully reduced the total armed forces to 386,000 [from 450,000 four years ago year]," Wu said.

"By 2006, we will further slim down the force number to 350,000. It is to be achieved through the yet-to-be implemented Chingching project, which is a follow-up of the Chingshih project," he said.

"The [goal behind] personnel downsizing is to build a modern force capable of handling new combat modes in the Taiwan Strait."

Wu made the remarks yesterday as he delivered a speech at an annual dinner party with the press in Taipei.

Wu explained the program focuses on air and sea control and anti-amphibious landing attack capability.

"To control the air, the air force will enhance its electronic warfare and early warning capabilities via integrating reconnaissance aircraft, early warning aircraft, electronic warfare aircraft, advanced fighter planes and ground-based air defense weapons," Wu said.

"Overall air defense capabilities are also to become stronger following the acquisition of advanced air-to-air missiles and new air defense missiles," he said.

To control the sea, Wu said, "the navy needs to strengthen its ability to attack ships and track submarines from the air."

"The navy also has to work harder on integrating its anti-submarine forces and hardening its surface mine-sweeping capabilities," he said.

"In the future the army is to feature highly-mobile operation capabilities. Its new weapons to become operational in the next few years include self-propelled howitzers and multi-rocket launch systems. A medium-range anti-tank missile system is also expected to be acquired," Wu said.

Information warfare is another area which the military is focusing on developing with the establishment of the military's first-ever cyber force at the beginning of this year.

"Following the inauguration of the information warfare force, we will proceed to develop information warfare tactics."

"These tactics are to be employed on the basis of combined fiber-optic networks and wireless communication systems," Wu said.

"Our final goal is to build a multi-track national communication system integrating military and civilian information infrastructure," he said.

Wu revealed in his speech a lot about what sorts of weapons Taiwan will acquire or need for self-defense in the near future.

They include the much-desired AIM-120 air-to-air missile and the P-3C anti-submarine aircraft.

He did not touch specifically on what Taiwan will put on its purchase list during this year's arms sales talk with the US.

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