Mon, Mar 08, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Army establishing new mechanized infantry brigades

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The army is in the process of establishing three new mecha-nized infantry brigades, which will become the service's major fighting force in the future, defense sources said yesterday.

The first mechanized infantry brigade is already being formed, while the next two are in the planning stage. The first brigade integrated the Tainan-based 298th motorized infantry brigade with the Pingtung-based 395th armored infantry brigade to form a new type of combat force that the nation's army has never seen before.

The 298th brigade will disappear after the integration. The other two motorized infantry brigades, to be located in the center and north of the country, will soon follow suit.

A senior army official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the new mechanized infantry brigade features high mobility and concentrated firepower.

"These brigades will be equip-ped with an eight-wheeled armored vehicle currently under development. They are to become truly mobile forces," the official said.

"The reason for integrating a mobilized infantry brigade with an armored infantry brigade is to concentrate personnel and equipment, which are to become increasingly limited in the next few years as a new wave of personnel streamlining efforts get under way," he said.

In a previous personnel stream-lining program, the Chingshih Project, the 333rd infantry division, of which the 298th brigade forms a part, was reduced to a regional command without any forces under its direct control. The Chingshih Project was completed in 1997.

The three brigades of the division, including the 997th, 998th and 999th brigades, were then detached from the division. Only the 998th brigade has survived, in the form of a motorized infantry brigade renamed the 298th brigade.

But over the past seven years, the three motorized infantry brigades have been found unable to live up to the "motorized" part of their name, since their major form of transportation was marching.

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