President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) told the armed forces yesterday to maintain a small but strong army and to be prepared for combat, but added that the cross-strait climate was headed for a change.
Ma said that improved exchanges and cooperation with China had increased stability in the region.
Rapprochement had also received support and recognition from the international community, he said.
“However, reconciliation does not mean we will relax our efforts to build the army and prepare for war,” he said. “We must be vigilant in peacetime and be prepared so that we won’t be sorry.”
Ma made the remarks while attending a military promotion ceremony in Taipei yesterday morning.
There were 29 officers promoted, including six lieutenant generals and 23 major generals.
Ma said that the military was the foundation of national security and democratic development as well as a significant pillar of the country’s economic development.
Defense policy must be adjusted for changes in global and regional development, he said.
“Only with a strong defense can national security and prosperity be ensured,” he said.
Ma said he hoped to see military leaders integrate their expertise to improve the forces in three ways: soldiers should work more with civilians because their interactions were a “natural and necessary” development in a democracy; the services should discard departmental rivalries and cooperate on military strategy and tactics; and the military should make international connections.
Exchanges with other countries should be more frequent, broader and on a higher level, he said, adding that foreign language skills were important for those engaging in exchanges.
Ma also said he hoped the armed forces would strengthen their combat power and be ready to protect the nation at any time, adding that the most ideal defense was to use a small army and state-of-the-art weapons to deter enemies and prevent war.
Ma said he also hoped to accelerate reform.
“As we pursue cross-strait reconciliation and peace, we hope to continue to strengthen cooperation with our diplomatic allies in security and military,” he said. “The situation across the Taiwan Strait is bound to change. I hope the military will be prepared in every way.”
Ma said that Taiwan must build the army and prepare for combat with an “innovative and asymmetrical concept,” using the fewest resources to obtain the best result possible.
Ma added that physical training should be improved.
In related news, Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) yesterday said he would not increase his media profile for its own sake.
Kao made the remarks following a poll by the Chinese-language China Times that found Kao ranked 12th among the Cabinet’s 23 high-ranking officials in terms of recognizability.
The top three were central bank Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南), Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) and Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛).