Mon, Jun 05, 2006 - Page 3 News List

US plan for defending Taiwan disclosed

BE PREPAREDThough familiar to military specialists in Washinton, details about an operational plan for a US response to an attack on Taiwan were recently made public

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER

And, while China complained about Blair's activities, the protests were relatively muted.

Significantly, in recent years, Blair has become the regular senior US observer to Taiwan's annual Han Kuang military exercises.

"Blair knows what went on with 5077, so when he observes the exercises, he is able to evaluate it in light of his knowledge about what the coordination is likely to be and what the goals are," one source noted.

"So, even if he does not mention it, when he says something, astute people in Taiwan know that he's speaking from a position of authority with respect to knowledge about the Oplan," the source said.

Taiwan's supporters in Washington welcomed the disclosure of Oplan 5077.

"It is at least a relief to discover that the US government has taken very seriously the requirement to be able to react to an attack on Taiwan and that it has recently been updated to factor in, I assume, China's constantly expanding level of capability," said Richard Fisher, an expert on China's military and vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

Fisher sees the plan as stemming from the Taiwan Relations Act's mandate that the US maintain the capability to help Taiwan defend itself in case of a Chinese military attack. Fisher noted that the former conceptual plan was turned into the Oplan only after Bush was elected in 2000.

"George Bush's [April] 2001 statements [that the US would do `whatever it takes' to defend Taiwan] would have constituted an indirect order to the Pacific Command to prepare, or at least to update, existing plans and preparations for a possible conflict over Taiwan," Fisher says.

Arkin, however told the Taipei Times that work on the plan was deflected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Bush's concentration on Iraq, and that the work on the plan in late 2002 and 2003 actually reflected a return to a focus on dealing with Chinese military action.

A potential war with China had been a major focus in the eight years before Sept. 11, Arkin says. He also sees 5077 as a response to a military-wide contingency planning guidance issued by Rumsfeld earlier.

Arkin says that the administration has put a greater emphasis recently on missile defense, maritime intercept and to some degree on air defense issues, all of which could be main components of any battle in the Taiwan Strait.

He also notes that in the case of Taiwan, US global military capabilities would be brought into play. These would include a better computer network, a finer-tuned capability to go after China's air defense network, a "well-oiled maritime intercept capability and an improved naval missile defense capability which would allow the United States to interpose itself between Taiwan and China."

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