The military is to start anti-terror exchanges with the Philippines in hopes that it could learn something from a country with a great deal of counter-terrorism experience, defense sources said yesterday.
The renowned Scout Rangers of the Philippine army, modeled on the US army rangers, will be the model for Taiwan's military to learn about real combat experience in counter-terrorism.
In return, the Ministry of National Defense is to share with its Philippine counterpart certain technologies or products that it has developed on its own or copied from abroad.
For example, the military will provide a regular supply of ammunition, which the combined logistics command produces, for a kind of machine gun that the Rangers now use.
The anti-terror exchange is still being planned. If it pans out, the cooperation will be the most substantial between the two nations in recent years.
A defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the anti-terror exchange will be the first step toward the military restoring its counter-terrorism capabilities.
"We used to have counter-terrorism capabilities. But these capabilities have disappeared in recent years due to personnel streamlining efforts and budgetary constraints," the official said.
"It might sound incredible at first that we want to learn from the Philippines. But they do have a great deal of experience in counter-terrorism. They have fought for many years against rebels in their country," he said.
"It is interesting to note that the Philippine armed forces are not well-equipped for their fight against the rebels. Sometimes, the rebels are better armed," he said.
"We want to find out how the Philippine forces are able to fight under unfavorable conditions," he said.
* The Philippine army's Scout Rangers could become a model for Taiwanese units.
* Officials want to learn how the Philippine army fights various rebel groups.
* The Ministry of National Defense could supply the Philippine military with technology or products such as ammunition.
Taiwan's special-operations units, one each in the army, marine corps and military police, do not have any real combat experience.
The three units suffered a considerable downsizing several years ago during the Chingshih Personnel Streamlining Project.
The downsizing is generally believed to be the reason these units lost many of capabilities they once had.
A marine corp special operations officer said budgetary constraints are another factor behind the loss of combat power.
"The corps special operations unit does not have enough funds to buy new weapons and equipment. Most of our budget is spent on payroll and not much is left over. We must know that special-operations hardware changes very fast," the officer said.