U.S., Taiwan To Discuss Bilateral Relations in Virginia Conference
By WENDELL MINNICK
TAIPEI — The eighth annual U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference 2009, which allows government officials of the two countries to discuss both publicly and privately the defense needs of Taiwan, will be held next week and is expected to focus on how the Obama administration leans in its military policy toward Taiwan.
The Sept. 27-29 event in Charlottesville, Va., is sponsored by the Washington-based U.S.-Taiwan Business Council.
Gen. Chaou Shi-chang, deputy minister of defense for armaments, will lead the Taiwan delegation.
It had been hoped that the new defense minister, retired Army Gen. Kao Hua-chu, would be able to break away from rebuilding efforts in typhoon-ravaged southern Taiwan. Sources at the Ministry of National Defense (MND) would only say, however, that Kao, who was appointed Sept. 9, was “very busy” and would be “criticized” if he went to the United States so soon after the crisis.
“It is wholly consistent to have the deputy minister for armaments lead the delegation, and in light of domestic developments, we’re happy to have Gen Chaou,” said Rupert HammondChambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council.
“The highpoints will be the keynote speeches from the defense department and MND as they represent the first substantive opportunities for each side to shape major messages in a public environment.
“While the council does not expect any announcements on new sales, we do expect to hear the Obama administration frame its military policy toward Taiwan and to discuss how it fits in America’s regional security footprint,” Hammond-Chambers said.
“We expect to hear how the Obama administration will approach encouraging detente across the [Taiwan] Strait but also ensuring that Taiwan’s force modernization efforts will move forward and be materially supported.”
Taiwan has been pushing the United States hard to release 66 F-16C/D Block 50/52 fighters and UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters. Beijing applies tremendous pressure on the United States not to sell arms to Taiwan and broke off military relations with Washington after an October 2008 arms deal totaling $6.4 billion to sell Taiwan Apache attack helicopters and PAC-3 air-defense missile systems.
“In the case of MND, it should be an update on what was delivered last year, with similar themes,” Hammond-Chambers said. “The military’s role in backing cross-Strait talks, the move to an all-volunteer force and continued force modernization.”
The conference is broken down into three regular sessions covering transition strategy, integration and innovation, and a fourth “breakout session” on the role the Taiwanese Army, Navy and Air Force play in defense planning and implementation, including homeland security and crisis management.
■ Session one will focus on transition strategy and how changes in the political and economic environment, along with evolving military technologies, is spurring Taiwan to substantially alter its organization, force structure, capabilities and operations.
■ Session two will examine weapon systems, communication networks, and manpower and personnel integration as vital aspects of the Taiwan military transition process.
■ Session three will explore how innovation serves as a critical component of the Taiwan transformation and transitioning efforts. It will examine how both technology and strategic innovations can play a role in improving Taiwan’s combat efficiency and effectiveness.
Chaou’s delegation includes Lt. Gen. Chen Lijia, director general of the Armaments Bureau; Cheang Yun-pung, deputy director of the Strategic Planning Department; Maj. Gen. Liang Chenyu, deputy director of the Integrated Assessment Office; Maj. Gen. Yen Chen-kuo of the Program & Evaluation Division at the Armaments Bureau; Maj. Gen. Chang Si-way, director of the Joint Air Defense Division at MND J3; and Maj. Gen. Wang Yang-cheng, commandant of the Defense Management College at National Defense University.
U.S. government officials presenting papers include John Anderson, chief of the Technical Section at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT); Erno Buky, Army programs officer at AIT; James Churchill, program manager for the International C4I Integration Program at U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command; and Wallace Gregson, assistant secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs at the U.S. State Department.