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Shift in strategy revealed in Taiwan's national defense report

2017/12/26 18:21:47

Taipei, Dec. 26 (CNA) Taiwan's latest national defense report released Tuesday revealed a slight shift in the military's defense strategy and offered for the first time a clear picture of how Taiwan procures arms from the United States.

The first Defense National Report published during President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) presidency said Taiwan is strengthening its asymmetric warfare capabilities amid a growing military threat and has adjusted its focus for defending against a possible Chinese invasion.

In recent decades, Taiwan's Armed Forces have seen beaches where enemy forces land as the focal point in repelling a potential Chinese invasion, but that emphasis has now been broadened to an outer perimeter along coastal areas.

Taiwan was forced to shift its strategy because China has been developing expeditionary warfare and over-the-horizon amphibious assault capabilities that pose a threat all along Taiwan's coastline, a source told local media.

The strategy shift means Taiwan military will put greater emphasis on boosting the defensive capabilities of its Air Force and Navy rather than making the buildup of its Army the priority as has been the case in the past, the source said.

That dovetails with an immediate concern of many in Taiwan -- repeated long-distance training missions by Chinese military aircraft and vessels near Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

The report presented a route chart of the missions and said Chinese aircraft and vessels have operated near Taiwan's ADIZ 25 times from August 2016 to Dec. 2017.

The MND report did not mention, however, what responses it planned to take to directly counter possible incursions of Taiwan's air space, saying only that the military is closely monitoring the air space and seas above and around Taiwan and will take all necessary measures to protect the country.

Taiwan's military also took a swing at greater transparency in the report, publishing for the first time a nine-step flow chart clearly showing the standard procedures used by Taiwan in pursuing Foreign Military Sales (FMS) from the U.S. government.

Though the steps were nothing new to reporters who cover the military and are fairly intuitive, they do offer a snapshot of the hurdles that must be cleared for an arms sale to occur.

The steps go from Taiwan deciding what weapons it needs and then submitting a Letter of Request (LOR) to the U.S. side that is then reviewed in Washington.

Should the U.S. give the request a green light, it sends a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) to Taiwan detailing its offer. Taipei then reviews the offer and completes a proposal for the procurement project before sending the LOA back to U.S.

Different government branches on the U.S. side then look over the proposal before the U.S. government notifies Congress of the sale and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) under the Department of Defense makes the deal public.

The process is completed once both sides sign the LOA, according to the MND-released chart.

MND Department of Strategic Planning Director Wu Pao-kun (吳寶琨) said the process was made public to let people know how it works and build popular support for procuring arms from the U.S.

The MND did not consult with the U.S. side before putting this information in the report, according to Miao Hui-fen (苗蕙芬), a section chief in the MND's Department of Strategic Planning.

At the same time, the military also tried to make its report more accessible to the average reader. The main report contains 159 color photographs and a large number of charts, and it also issued a comic-book version of the report to attract greater attention to national defense issues.

The English version of the report will become available next month, the ministry said.

(By Joseph Yeh)
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