Fri, Mar 08, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Lawmaker attacks reorganized military

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cracks are beginning to form in the new military command structure, PFP lawmaker Ku Chung-lien (顧崇廉) said yesterday.

The system, which places the defense minister above the chief of the general staff, was expected to provide solutions to some old problems such as an outdated distribution of power. But before such problems can be resolved, new problems have cropped up, Ku said.

Some of the problems are old issues in a new form. The original problem of the distribution of power and responsibility between the defense minister and the chief of the general staff, for instance, has evolved into a problem between the minister, the premier and the president.

In the past, the president controlled the military through the chief of the general staff, bypassing the defense minister and the premier. Under the new military command structure, the president exercises his control over the military through the defense minister, bypassing the premier.

The Defense Law and the amended Organizational Law of the Ministry of National Defense, which provide a legal basis for the new command structure, fails to clearly define the power relationship between the president, the premier and the minister.

Ku, a retired admiral, said the problem needs attention and refuses to go along with those applauding the new system. Ku is a former deputy defense minister and a former commander-in-chief of the navy.

According to Ku, the new system has not unified the divided command and administrative systems as the military claims.

"It has rather further divided the military into three operational systems," Ku said.

The three operational systems are the command, administrative and armament systems, which are handled respectively by the chief of the general staff and two deputy ministers under the authorization of the minister.

The three systems are seemingly unified under the command of the minister, yet they remain independent of each other, Ko said.

According to Ku, the arrangement not only exacerbates the original problem caused by the division between the command and administrative systems, it further complicates matters by introducing a third independent system -- the armament system.

Minister of National Defense Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明), when asked by lawmakers at the legislature about who will act on his behalf if he is absent from office, said he will leave administrative affairs to the deputy defense minister for administration, command affairs to chief of the chief of the general staff and armament affairs to the deputy defense minister for armament.

Tang's response led to more questions such as "which one of the three deputies can make the final decision?"

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