The military is now better prepared and its combat skills are “more mature” after repeatedly scrambling to see off Chinese forces during their recent drills, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday.
She was speaking to air force personnel at Hualien Air Force Base, including the 613 Battalion and Fifth Tactical Composite Wing, while touring military bases ahead of the Mid-Autumn Festival to present holiday bonuses.
She also visited the navy’s Hai Feng Seventh Squadron’s Guhai Base.
Photo: Chen Yun, Taipei Tmes
The Chinese threat persists, Tsai said.
Over the past month, the Fifth Wing has been on standby night and day, and has flown 36 sorties in response to Chinese aggression, she said.
“In the face of challenges, our military has calmly responded to the enemy’s attempts at intrusion and has tenaciously defended the nation’s security,” the president said, according to a transcript of her remarks released by the Presidential Office.
“I believe that after this period of combat-readiness missions, our military’s combat skills are more mature and its combat power is more powerful,” she said.
Giving special recognition to Captain Chou Wan-chun (周婉淳), Tsai said that she flew several sorties, demonstrating that regardless of gender, military branch or position, every soldier and officer shoulders the responsibility to protect their country.
Tsai added that she was “extremely proud” of the armed forces and people can enjoy the Mid-Autumn Festival because of their service.
During her speech, Tsai stood in front of an image of a Block-20 F-16 painted like a shark — the same design that was the trademark of the Flying Tigers, the US volunteer force during World War II.
The jet was painted during the 2015 celebration marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Tsai also inspected the “simulated combat situation gunnery training” program being trialed at the Huadong Defense Command’s Nanpu Base in Hualien, which the military plans to implement nationwide in January.
The program is far more challenging than previous shooting exercises, said Chu Ke-yen (褚克彥), captain of the Mechanized Infantry Battalion’s Second Company.
Soldiers during exercises usually remain stationary in set stances, but the program requires them to seek cover and alternate between shooting upright, on one knee and in a prone position.
Chu said that all soldiers received one “dummy” round in their magazine to simulate jamming to test if they remember how to deal with malfunctions and eject the faulty round.
Yesterday’s training simulated firing when closing in on an enemy position, requiring soldiers to shoot at 175m and 75m respectively, Chu said.
The military is also holding two days of drills, which started late yesterday, around Hengchun Peninsula. Apache attack helicopters, Ching-kuo Indigenous Defense Fighters, artillery and drones are to be used in the drills.
The president’s tour came as three more Chinese fighter jets crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the Ministry of National Defense said.
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