Fri, Jun 07, 2013 - Page 3 News List

DPP calls for increase in defense budget

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

A decommissioned M41 tank is lifted onto a flatbed truck in Taoyuan County yesterday to be transported to Taipei’s Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Park for a special exhibition coinciding with a Discovery Channel series on Taiwan’s Special Forces, a cooperation between Discovery and the Ministry of National Defense. The exhibition at the CKS Memorial Hall Park starts today and runs through June 16.

Photo: Lo Cheng-ming, Taipei Times

Taiwan should immediately increase its defense budget, strengthen its military industry and deepen security dialogues with the US and other democracies, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said in the party’s first defense policy blue paper, released yesterday.

DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) unveiled the defense policy blue paper, a four-part report that laid out the DPP’s national defense vision based on “three new faiths” of confidence in servicemen, the people’s trust in national defense and assurance for international partners.

The blue paper, presented by the defense policy advisory committee of the DPP’s think tank, the New Frontier Foundation, after 14 meetings and the participation of 31 retired military officials during the past nine months, detailed the DPP’s national defense agenda, the establishment of an accountable National Security Council (NSC), a new chapter for the Taiwan-US defense partnership and strengthened research and development by transforming the quasi-governmental Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST).

In an overview of the policy, Su said Taiwan’s military budget should be raised to 3 percent of GDP and that private industry as well as foreign partners should be encouraged to develop next-generation fighters, unmanned aerial vehicles, submarines, asymmetric weapons and cyberwarfare technologies.

The DPP also advocated bipartisan cooperation in solving the “military cliff” as the introduction of an all-volunteer force has already had a negative effect on military readiness and defense resources, Su said.

The reasonable number of military personnel which is able to defend Taiwan should first be discussed, he added.

On the Taiwan-US defense partnership, regression of the bilateral partnership during the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has been a concern, the report said, as Ma’s administration put an emphasis on the number of US arms sales in dollar terms and has ignored weapon efficiency and alternative plans.

Several espionage cases involving active or retired Taiwanese military officials in recent years also jeopardize US confidence on selling advance weapons to Taiwan, the report said.

The DPP suggested accelerating arms acquisitions and emphasized the “non-hardware” aspect of bilateral cooperation, such as high-level national security dialogue, expansion of training programs for Taiwanese military personnel in the US and bilateral cooperation on cybersecurity.

The paper called for joint military or humanitarian relief exercises and Washington’s assistance in helping Taiwan establish military confidence-building measures with Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, some of which have maritime or airspace disputes with Taiwan.

The advisory committee recommended refining the NSC’s organization and operations to eliminate the institutional drawbacks.

The NSC should submit a national security strategy report to the legislature within six months after the president’s inauguration and should be under the supervision of the legislature, it said.

Transformation of the CSIST, which is tasked with developing advanced weaponry, would be one of the DPP’s most important policies because of the institution’s critical role in weapon development, according to the paper.

As foreign arms acquisition became more difficult after the rise of China, the DPP said that the CSIST’s science and technology budget allocated by the Ministry of National Defense should not be lower than 3 percent of the annual defense budget, which has not been the case in recent years.

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