War simulations reveal communication problem

BREAKDOWN: According to a media report, a failure to communicate contributed to the military's failure to repel Chinese forces during a computerized war game

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mon, May 01, 2006 - Page 3

The Chinese military was able to land in the northern part of the country during computerized war game simulations due to a disconnect between the command center and the army, a media report said yesterday.

The annual Han Kuang computer exercise took place from April 17 to April 22. According to a report in the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper), the military did well in a sea battle in the Taiwan Strait. But because of a breakdown in communication between the command center and the the Sixth Army, which is in charge of ground defense in the north, the Chinese ground troops were able to reach land and march to Taipei.

The report quoted a Ministry of National Defense official as saying that "during the third day of the simulation, Chinese vessels crossing the Taiwan Strait were under fierce attack from the navy's four Kidd Class destroyers." The destroyers helped to repel 25 percent of the enemy's invading force before it could reach the northern shores, and the attackers were forced to make for shores further south, the report said.

However, by the night of the third day, the frustrated Chinese invading force suddenly turned its attention to the north once more after gaining support from further vessels. Troops then successfully landed on the shores between Tamsui (淡水) and Chinsan Township (金山), the report said.

Since the command center failed to inform the Sixth Army of the landing in a timely manner, the division was unable to block them in time, according to the report.

The report said the Chinese troops then swiftly advanced along the Yangjin Highway (陽金公路) toward Taipei. Although troops stationed in Taipei moved to the Yangmingshan area in an attempt to halt the Chinese advance, they failed because they were outnumbered and the Chinese were covered by air support, the report said.

The ministry announced the end of the war games when Chinese troops reached Taipei, the report added.

The report said the ministry considered the communication breakdown a serious flaw and had asked the military to improve its channels of communication.

The report added that the four Kidd Class destroyers were regarded as making a good contribution in the simulation. The navy initially deployed two of the destroyers in the south and two in the north. But when Chinese ships attempted to approach the north, the navy made a bold decision to deploy all four destroyers in the waters off the northern part of the country. The move paid off as the destroyers blocked the invading force from approaching Taipei.