President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday told a military ceremony that blocking the enemy in the Taiwan Strait was key, following remarks by a US professor that Taiwan should abandon its naval and air forces.
Ma said Taiwan was relatively small and that it was important to maintain control over the Taiwan Strait in the event of an armed conflict. If Taiwan’s military did not have an advantage in the air, it would lose the upper hand on the sea as well, Ma said.
This would mean the armed forces would not be able to eliminate the enemy before it reaches land, and would bring war to Taiwan proper, he said.
“To ensure the island is solid as a rock, all three armed forces are important and each has a separate role to play,” he said.
Ma made the remarks while addressing a promotion ceremony for 33 military officials in Taipei yesterday morning.
Ma’s comments came in the wake of a proposal by William Murray, a professor at the US Naval War College. Murray said the Taiwanese military should abandon its naval and air forces and devote resources to the army, arguing that a strong army would be sufficient to defend the country.
Apparently impressed by Murray’s theory, the National Security Council-affiliated Cross-strait Interflow Prospect Foundation invited Murray to deliver a talk this month.
Ma yesterday said that the three armed forces were equally important and that the government had earmarked budgets over the past years to purchase advanced weapons, maintain high-caliber manpower and strengthen combat skills.
His administration will continue its efforts, he said, including pushing for a complete replacement of the conscription system with volunteer recruits.
“If a war ever breaks out in the Taiwan Strait and most of the advanced weapons and equipment are destroyed by the enemy before the armed forces have a chance to use them, what are we going to tell the public?” he said.
To effectively deter the enemy, Ma said his administration had a four-pronged approach, of which the military was one part.
On the political front, the government will deepen democracy and freedom, which are the pillars of the nation’s development and important elements of Taiwan’s “soft power”; economically, it will seek to invigorate cross-strait exchanges to create a win-win situation; and psychologically, he said, the public must consolidate its will and have faith in the system and its merits.