Re-think defense: US analyst

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Sat, Dec 22, 2012 - Page 3

Taiwan’s defense strategy needs a “revolution in thinking,” a seminar on US-Taiwan relations was told on Thursday.

Truman National Security Project executive director Michael Breen said the nation should move away from a reliance on tactical aircraft to deploying large numbers of mobile missiles.

Addressing a Center for National Policy (CNP) seminar in Washington on “The Future of US-Taiwan Relations,” Breen played down the value of the F-16C/D aircraft that Taiwan has been desperately trying to buy from the US.

He said that it was difficult to see what good they could do if China launched an “overwhelming number” of ballistic missiles at Taiwan, leaving takeoff and landing facilities unusable.

Taiwan should rather make it evident to Chinese military planners that the cost of an attack would be “unacceptably high,” he said

Breen added that Taiwan should focus less on large formations and focus more on small, mobile and lethal light-infantry formations armed with anti-tank weapons.

“In Taiwan’s complex urban terrain they could impose heavy costs on the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] should it ever break out from a beachhead,” he said.

Breen was a member of a team of military, policy and academic experts led by CNP president Scott Bates that visited Taiwan for meetings with government and defense officials earlier this month.

President of the Long Term Strategy Group, Jacqueline Deal, said that she was particularly impressed with Taiwanese officials who were “free-wheeling and open” during discussions, in contrast with Chinese officials, who were “constrained.”

However, Deal said that Taiwan had made an “insufficient investment” in defense.

She recommended greater investment in mobile missiles “using the land’s features and tunnels to hide them.”

Such missiles would raise the cost of potential aggression by Beijing, she said.

Bates said Taiwan’s defense strategy should be to convince Beijing that any attack could result in a “substantial” loss of face and even humiliation.

Bates said that submarines “would seem to be a perfect naval asset” for the defense of Taiwan.

“The US should seriously consider, and the [US] Congress should authorize, the sale of non-nuclear submarines to Taiwan,” he said.