The National Security Council (NSC) yesterday dismissed concerns about a security breach in a military drill and insisted that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) boarded a “Clouded Leopard” armored vehicle in order to test its performance.
Ma on Tuesday took his first drive in one of the military’s new Clouded Leopard armored vehicles and watched a drill at the National Political-Military Command Center simulating a conflict in the East China and South China seas.
He left the Presidential Office at about noon on Tuesday wearing a suit, smiling at photographers and reporters as he walked to the vehicle.
The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) quoted an anonymous secret service official as saying that the president had been exposed to danger and had little protection during the 40 seconds before he entered the vehicle, accusing the council of being careless with its organization of the drill.
In a written statement, the council yesterday said the armored vehicle was assembled in December 2011, and the president rode in the vehicle for the first time on Tuesday to test its capability.
“[President Ma boarding the vehicle] was not part of the drill,” the statement said.
Ma and other government officials, including Presidential Office Secretary-General Timothy Yang (楊進添) and National Security Council Secretary-General Jason Yuan (袁健生), did not wear military outfits or helmets because the test drive was not included in the drill, it said.
Ma wore a military outfit when he boarded a CM31 armored vehicle in 2009 during the No. 25 Hanguang Drill. The council said that drill was a simulation of war games.
Tuesday’s drill, on the other hand, simulated an escalation in tensions with an impact on politics, diplomatic relations, the economy, transportation and cross-strait relations. It aimed to test the government’s coordination and enhance its ability to handle a national security crisis, rather than simulate a war game.