The armed forces yesterday held a major live-fire drill in Pingtung County, weeks after the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration was accused of being soft on national defense for not using live ammunition during the Han Kuang series of exercises in April.
The Lien Yung exercise, which Ma attended, was held at the Tri-Service Joint Training Base at Paolishan (保力山) in Henchun (恆春), Pingtung County, the nation’s only base for live-fire exercises of this magnitude.
In all, 935 members from the army, air force and navy took part in the drill, which involved F-16A/B aircraft, AH-1W attack helicopters, OH-58D reconnaissance helicopters, CM-11 battle tanks, M109 howitzers and Javelin anti-tank missiles, as well as a variety of grenade launchers and rifles, all aimed at targets on the flank of the mountain.
The 584th Armored Brigade, based in Hukou Township (湖口), Hsinchu County, and the 601st Air Cavalry Brigade, based in Longtan Township (龍潭), Taoyuan County, comprised the bulk of the forces.
During the operation, a Knox-class frigate set up a naval air defense perimeter at sea.
The Lien Yung exercise, one of three tri-services exercises held routinely, takes place on a rotational basis every 18 months, following five weeks of training. Yesterday’s event was the culmination of the 584th’s training.
Photo: Pichi Chuang, Reuters
A military official told the Taipei Times after the exercise that media disapproval of the absence of live-fire exercises during Han Kuang in April was the main reason reporters had been invited to attend Lien Yung.
Ma and the military maintain that the decision to forgo live ammunition usage during Hang Kuang — the nation’s largest series of exercises — stemmed from regional safety considerations and efforts to minimize the inconvenience caused to local residents.
The official also said that live-fire exercises did take place during Han Kuang, but that those were not publicized.
This was the second time since Ma took office in 2008 that the media had been invited to attend the drill.
In a 10-minute speech following the exercise, which he deemed “admirable,” Ma reaffirmed his commitment to national defense through a three-pronged approach of institutional cross-strait rapprochement, the alignment of national defense and diplomacy, and further participation in the international community. He also said that in the next four years, Taiwan would continue to acquire weapons from abroad that it cannot develop domestically.
Ma’s remarks came as it is becoming increasingly clear that Taiwan will abandon its efforts to acquire 66 F-16C/Ds from the US.
The Hualien District Prosecutors’ Office has listed six people as suspects in a judicial investigation into a fatal train crash on Friday last week. Fifty people were killed and more than 200 were injured when the Taroko Express No. 408 train slammed into a crane truck that had slid onto the tracks near the entrance of Cingshuei Tunnel (清水隧道) in Hualien’s Sioulin Township (秀林). The office also summoned six officials at the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) Hualien Engineering Section for questioning about alleged illegal business operations and unsafe work conditions by Yi Hsiang Industry Co and Tung Hsin Construction Co, the two
The navy’s new 10,600-tonne warship is on Tuesday to be christened the ROCN Yushan (玉山), as the nation’s indigenous shipbuilding program reaches a milestone, sources said yesterday. The vessel, previously referred to as the “new landing platform dock,” was at a shipyard with its name freshly painted on the hull with the number 1401, the Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times) reported yesterday, citing an unnamed observer. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), a member of the legislature’s National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, confirmed the report in a Facebook post. The NT$4.635 billion (US$163 million) ship is designed
SUPPORTING DEMOCRACY IN ASIA: Twitter aims to ‘play a unique role in enabling the public conversation around important social movements,’ the US company said Twitter has thrown its support behind the “Milk Tea Alliance” of democracy movements in Taiwan, Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia, defying China at a time when Beijing is punishing Western companies for commenting on what it considers internal matters. The social media company yesterday prominently displayed flags of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Myanmar and Thailand while unveiling an emoji to support democracy advocates in places that have in the past few years seen historic protests and share a love for the beverage. The emoji will automatically show up when users post the #MilkTeaAlliance hashtag, which was posted been 11 million times
DIALOGUE SOUGHT: Washington said it was concerned about the pattern of ongoing attempts to intimidate Taiwan after the 10th day of PLA activity in the region The US on Monday urged Beijing to stop its multifaceted pressure campaign against Taiwan after China sent 25 military jets into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. “The United States notes with concern the pattern of ongoing PRC [People’s Republic of China] attempts to intimidate the region, including Taiwan,” a US Department of State spokesperson said in an e-mail response to questions. “We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan, and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan.” The Ministry of National Defense said that 25 Chinese military aircraft entered the zone on Monday. It was the 10th straight