Taiwan seeks military alliances beyond US ties

WAR GAMES::The nation’s military is attempting to establish ‘actual’ alliances with neighbors in an effort to ensure Taiwan is active in maintaining regional stability

By Lo Tien-pin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Mon, Sep 21, 2015 - Page 3

The nation’s defense policy plans include expanding the number of units sharing sister relations with US military units in the coming year and further solidifying the “virtual alliance” between the Taiwanese and US militaries, while looking to establish “actual alliance” relationships with other allied nations, military officials said.

The military has been invited to visit the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico next year to conduct live-fire tests of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air missiles, officials said.

Planned exercises for the visit to the US Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana ,include observation of the training of US forces prior to deployment in simulated scenarios.

The air force has also been invited to attend national air force drills in Europe as an observer next year, officials said, adding that it was a big step toward establishing “actual” military alliances in the region.

Budgets and primary goals have been submitted to the Legislative Yuan for review, with aims to establish new contacts, maintaining current military contacts and forming actual military alliances acting as guidelines for the coming year, officials said.

The Ministry of National Defense said it hopes to be invited to observe and even participate in US military drills in an effort to enhance joint combat capabilities, adding that such invitations could help establish trust and consensus between the Taiwanese and US armed forces.

Taiwan should also look to forge alliances outside of the US and Japan by stepping up military interaction with regional players such as South Korea, Southeast Asian nations, Central and South America and Africa, the ministry said.

Visits by high-ranking military officials, academic interaction, training exercises and arms sales are all methods to be considered, the ministry said, adding that multiple military cooperation agreements with regional players would help establish a safe cooperation mechanism that would be conducive to maintaining regional stability.

Earlier this month, US-Taiwan Business Council president Rupert Hammond-Chambers said that a new Taiwan arms package is making its way through the channels of the US political system.

“I would characterize the programs that are being looked at now — and these have all popped up in the last year or so — as house cleaning,” Hammond-Chambers said.

The new package is to consist of second-hand equipment, upgraded equipment and munitions.