The most important observation that the military has made of the US-led war against Iraq is that missiles and bombs alone cannot shatter the will of a country to fight, a National Defense University (NDU) official said yesterday.
"The allied forces have fired 15,000 smart bombs, 7,100 conventional bombs and nearly 700 cruise missiles against Iraq. But the attacks did not achieve the goal of shattering the will of Iraqi people to fight," said navy Captain Chen Teh-men (陳德門), deputy chief of education at NDU.
"The development means a lot to us. If Iraqi people were able to maintain a strong will to fight despite the intensive bombing by the allied forces before the surrender of Baghdad, Taiwanese people could also [maintain the will to fight] if China attacks with missiles," he said.
"It helps to correct the long-held belief that China's missiles could be a deadly threat to Taiwan," he said.
Chen made the remarks yesterday at a regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense, where university officials made public their assessments of the war.
Chen said that the will to fight would be the key to any conflict.
"Strategic bombing is certainly very effective, especially since smart bombs were invented. But it is not necessarily the deciding factor in a war," Chen said. "People's will to fight, as demonstrated by Britain during German bombings in World War II and by Vietnam during the Vietnam War, is the vital factor."
Other NDU officials, however, put greater focus on the use of technology in the war in Iraq.
Air force Colonel Chen Han-hua (陳漢華), a researcher at NDU, called attention to some new concepts of combat that the US has put into practice in the war.
"The US military now focuses on establishing a `capability-based force' and achieving `effects-based operation.' All these goals have to be obtained via technology," Chen Han-hua said.
"To prepare for the war against Iraq, the US military launched more than 800 satellites. These satellites are for various missions including reconnaissance, navigation, guidance and weather," he said.
"The US military extensively used smart weapons in the war. These weapons make up nearly 70 percent of all those that the US military has used so far," he said.
"The use of such weapons has greatly shortened the time from discovery of the target to engagement. In the second decapitation action, for instance, the operation lasted only 45 minutes from beginning to end," he said.
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