Tue, Oct 21, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Pingtung County base the focus of training program

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

As the military focuses on developing joint operations capabilities, there is only one training base large in the country enough to provide joint-operations training.

A marine corp base in Pingtung County's Hengchun township is the only place where the army, air force, navy, and marine corps can train in joint modes.

During a recent visit to the base arranged by the Ministry of National Defense, the press were able to get a close-up look at the training facilities for the first time.

The base has been providing joint operations training to major combat forces since 2000, with troops coming in rotation for four weeks each year, the marine corps said in a briefing.

The army's armored, armored infantry and motorized brigades are the major users of the base, while the marine corps' two infantry brigades also feature.

At the base, these brigades have the chance to operate jointly using the army's armed helicopters, the air forces' fighter jets and the navy's warships.

The joint training breaks down barriers between the armed services, giving troops near combat experience. This type of training was the brainchild of Minister of National Defense Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明) when he was chief of the general staff.

In a year, the base can accommodate 11 brigades, nine from the army and two from the marine corps, for four-week programs at a time for each brigade. Most of the army's major combat forces undergo such training every year, which helps maintain the units' combat readiness.

The base, which started operation in 1967, is the country's largest training field, covering a space of over 2,000 hectares. It has frequently been the site of the annual Hankuang-series exercises.

Marine corps commander Lieutenant General Hsu Tai-sheng (徐台生) said the joint operations base, though already the largest in the country, will be expanded.

"We plan to develop a bombing field for the air force. The site will be located east of a mountain which now serves as a boundary of the base. First we have to buy land from civilians," Hsu said.

Additional training capacity such as computerized war gaming and laser-controlled battlefield simulators will also be added over the next few years. The new training facilities will help reduce noise levels on the base, something people living nearby have often complained about.

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