Taiwan Report Stresses Disaster Preparedness
By Wendell Minnick
TAIPEI — The 2009 biennial defense report released Oct. 27 by Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) — the first under the administration of National Defense Minister Kao Huachu — emphasizes natural disaster preparedness more than previous editions.
Kao replaced Chen Chao-min on Sept. 9 after the military’s poor response in August to Typhoon Morakot, which killed more than 500 people and wiped out small towns in central Taiwan.
The report also addresses for the first time the cross-Strait dimension of improved ties with China, a former MND official said. Previous reports failed to tackle issues such as confidence-building measures (CBMs) and a potential scaling down of tensions. Despite this, the MND continues to warn of the threat of Chinese ballistic missiles, he said. At the same time, it acknowledges new demands on its resources to deal with natural disasters.
Taiwan, the report states, “has been advising the PRC [People’s Republic of China] many times to remove its missile deployment against Taiwan, and proposing that both sides negotiate to ‘construct CBM,’ so as to alleviate cross-Strait military tension and avoid potential military accidents or armed conflicts.”
China has made no move to “renounce the use of force” against the island. China must begin to take concrete steps to reduce tensions before relations can improve further, the report said.
China has roughly 1,500 ballistic and cruise missiles targeting Taiwan and is developing an electronic and cyberwarfare capability to hobble Taiwan’s command-and-control networks.
“The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] still adopts the ‘pursuing talks, preparing for combat and ready for the long haul’ approach towards Taiwan, with hopes of ‘exceeding Taiwan in quality and quantity by 2010,’” the report states. According to the report, China has only increased military preparedness since the U.S. government last year released a package of arms to Taiwan. China’s moves have included missile tests, naval vessel patrols along the middle line of the Taiwan Strait, and air defense exercises.
Possible military operations against Taiwan include intimidation using psychological warfare, which might include troop deployments and missile tests; critical strikes by missiles on Taiwan’s command-and-control nodes and military bases; asymmetrical warfare scenarios that include special operations forces, cyberwarfare, electronic warfare, all leading toward a decapitation operation; and a full-scale land, air and sea invasion.
The report detailed at length the status of the Jingjin (2004-10) streamlining and modernization program. The MND is preparing for the Jingtsui Program (2011-14) that will restructure military commands and further reduce troop numbers.
Though critics have called both programs “demilitarization,” proponents have said Taiwan must face threats from not just China, but also Mother Nature. Earthquakes and typhoons in the past decade have made the military rethink its priorities. There also have been more cooperation and discussions with China.
The Jingjin Program merged military policy, command and armament systems.
“Top command organization adjustments will observe the legislative intent of ‘centralized defense,’ ‘civilian control of the military’ and ‘all-out defense,’” the report states. “Top command staff organization is integrated to focus on strengthening the effectiveness of joint armed forces ... and reducing the number of command levels.”
Since 2004, the number of personnel has been cut from 385,000 to 275,000, and further cuts will reduce the number to 215,000 in five to 10 years.
Due to the overwhelming superiority of China’s military, Taiwan’s military will “focus on seizing relative capability advantages in critical time and space” to counter Chinese attempts to land and establish “lodgment,” the report says. Taiwan has to give up the “‘balanced force development’ thinking of scattered resources and further adopt the ‘focused force development’ thinking of mission orientation, so that it will achieve maximum cost-effectiveness.”