The base survey team of the combined logistics command is the only unit of its kind in the military, whose specialty has been recognized not just by the military but also by civilians.
The base survey team, which was activated in 1954 in Taichung, is responsible for the positioning of the country's control points, also known as triangular points, as the references in the making of military maps.
These control points, over 2,000 in number, are mostly located in mountains and remote areas, requiring great physical strength and psychological endurance to reach.
Last year, the base survey team completed the first country-wide joint survey since 1980. The mission took one-and-a-half months. The team sent members to 20 control points in the country and offshore islands such as Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu to conduct the joint survey.
The survey was highly regarded by the military since it will greatly improve the accuracy of the control points and will thus lead to the upgrade of the capabilities of the military in the use of control points for combat purposes.
Besides the recognition from the military, the base survey team has also won applause from the civilian sector because of its contribution to most of the civil-engineering projects of the country over the past few decades.
The team has been assigned to conduct geographical survey for civil-engineering projects such as Taipei's mass-rapid-transit systems, the high-speed railway system, the Chungshan and Second North Freeways, a new center of Taipei County's Tamsui township, and many others.
The team's involvement in these projects has been little known since not many people would expect the military to have such a highly-specialized unit. Its members mostly graduated from the Chung Cheng Institute of Technology of the military.
Another lesser-known aspect of the team is that it had sent members to Saudi Arabia to help the then diplomatic ally of the country establish its survey capabilities and organs. Team leader Colonel Cheng Chuan-kao (鄭傳考), who had been to Saudi Arabia, reflected in a recent interview with the Taipei Times that those days in Saudi Arabia occupy an important place in his memory.
"We went there mainly to help them establish their own survey capabilities. There was much to do," Cheng said, declining to go any further on the topic.
A lot of senior members of the team had the same experience of working in Saudi Arabia. Younger members no longer have the chance to benefit from the exchange since Saudi Arabia has switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China years ago. The survey team's role in Saudi Arabia has been replaced by specialists in the field sent from China.
Although the survey team was kicked out of Saudi Arabia because of China, China might have to thank it for the Three Gorges Dam of the Yangtze River that has just been completed and put to use.
The survey team's predecessor during the KMT's rule over most of China had already launched a comprehensive survey of possible sites for a dam in the Yangtze River between 1945 and 1946.
The survey was done in large part by aircraft. The team has the original photos of the Yangtze River taken from aircraft on file. It refused, however, to make these photos public.
Cheng explained that it has yet to be found out whether China's Three Gorges project might have benefited from the efforts of the team's predecessor.