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Defense ministry denies use of cell phones during military exercise

2012/04/24 16:57:05

Taipei, April 24 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense on Tuesday denied accusations that troops engaged in a recent military exercise had used cells phones to contact each other, in violation of the rules.

"That is absolutely not true," said Col. Tung Yu-wen, a senior official with the ministry's communications, electronics and information office, at a news conference.

He was responding to a remark by opposition Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsueh Ling, who said Monday she had been informed that some military personnel had to use mobile phones to obtain updates during the Han Kuang exercises because the communication equipment at some units was not functioning well.

The use of cell phones during the war games, which simulated an attack by China, opened the risk of leaking classified information to China, Hsueh said.

However, the ministry denied the accusation, saying that military regulations bar personnel from carrying cell phones into warfare command centers and designated areas during a drill.

In any event, the ministry's communication systems are equipped with counter-intervention devices to avoid information leaks and are constantly being upgraded, Tung said.

Military personnel participating in any drill usually contact each other through a certain communication system, he said.

Before the start of the Han Kuang exercises, the ministry made it clear to all participating units that they must abide by the security regulations pertaining to information and communications, said defense ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he.

Meanwhile, it was also reported in the media that three soldiers were seen eating at a breakfast shop in northern Taiwan during the exercises, an indication that they were not taking the drills seriously.

In response, Luo said the ministry had investigated the matter and found that the three soldiers were not involved in the exercises. They were out buying military supplies and went to the breakfast shop after they were done, he said.

Nonetheless, the incident has harmed the ministry's image, and those responsible will be punished, he said.

The annual Han Kuang exercises, involving Taiwan's three armed services, were held April 16-20 this year.

(By Elaine Hou)