Archive for the ‘National Defense’ Category

Taipei Times Finally Got A Facelift

I realize today that Taipei Times finally got a facelift.  For many years, Taipei Times’ website used the same old format and was quite slow at times.  Now it seems to improve a lot.

And…of course, under the KMT administration, there is abundance of worrisome news.

Unrelated Update: an interesting editorial about geopolitics that is sort of related to the Taipei Times link on Washington Post.  I think the picture is quite clear…the big problem is how will the US, Taiwan and other Asian countries going to deal with this situation?

DPP Needs More Experts in Military Matter

I am sure everyone understands that national defense is not a matter to take lightly.  It is a serious matter concerning the life and death of Taiwan.  Other things such as economic, foreign relations and education also affect the future of Taiwan greatly, but national defense is also part of the factor.

A lot of people have this attitude…”yea, yea, whatever, China is not going to invade.  It is afraid of the US.  Also, the economic tie is too close for any meaningful military action.”  Such attitude I think is too naive and dangerous.  Situation can change.  Right now China is investing heavily in sea denial forces that can hinder the US and other countries ability to intervene.  With military strength now tilting toward China, the amount of time Taiwan can hold out shortens.  I am not trying to stir fears, but the fact is, military matter is an important matter.  Imagine Taiwan is like Hong Kong, without any armed forces except the police.  If that is the case, Taiwan will be annexed by China already.

So what?  Taiwan has its military and its experts, what’s the problem?  The problem is, most of those people are part of KMT network or under KMT influence, while DPP lacks national defense experts within its own party.  DPP right now has a lot of good economic and foreign relation expert, but to my knowledge, not many national defense experts among DPP members.  Therefore, when DPP politicians sometimes discuss national defense matter, I felt they lack the depth and expertise they seem to have in other matters.

This situation creates two significant problems:

KMT owns the national defense discussions.  Those with military credentials and authority are often KMT members.  Two notable examples are 帥化民 and 林郁方.  There are also other military journalists and retired general extra.  The problems are:

  1. are these experts really experts?  Because there are no one from outside questioning or challenging these people’s opinions, no one really knows.  For examples, 帥化民 and 林郁方 said a lot of  things that I think is questionable, but since they are the “expert” while I am not, I cannot really say what they say is wrong.  This is part of the reason why KMT can block the special budget for so long in the legislature during the DPP’s time (the other being that they have more people in legislature).  However, if DPP actually have more national defense experts with good background and credential, they can examine what the KMP politicians (experts) said and challenge them when necessary.
  2. KMT can discuss national defense matter the way they wanted, because they have a monopoly in this matter.  This is a serious problem, because we all know KMT’s pro-China and pro-eventual-unification stances.  Will you hire a thief as a security planner for your house or banks?  Exactly.  But that is what Taiwan is doing now.  If you look at what the KMT did in the past decade – blocking military budget without discussion in legislature and now slashing military budget year by year…you will start to wonder does it want to protect Taiwan or not.  KMT politicians still say they want to buy such and such from the US etc, but I think they only do that for show.  underneath, are they actually trying hard to acquire the weapons and command & control systems etc….I don’t know.

The second problem is simply that without good national defense advisors, even if DPP won the presidential election, this part will still be lacking and can create a lot of headache and problems.  Therefore, I urge DPP politicians to think ahead, think practically and try to get a few military and national defense experts that is loyal to Taiwan and trust worthy on your side.

Require a Fundamental Change To Safe Guard Taiwan

I have to agree with this guy.  The fact is the situation has changed so much the so called status quo does not exist, especially in terms of military.  While China expands its military freely, Taiwan has to its hand tied.  This cannot end well unless there is a fundamentally change in strategy and policy.

Is Guirrella Warfare A Viable Option?

I think this idea is interesting and dangerous at the same time, but worth a discussion, because it is possible. 

Can Taiwan use guerrilla warfare?  I think the answer is yes.  But unfortunately it cannot be the principle strategy IMO, because:

  • Taiwan’s territory is small, which makes guerrilla warfare much more difficult.
  • Taiwan is an island, unlike Vietnam and Afghanistan, where smuggling operation is easier.  Vietnam use the neighboring countries territory, underground and jungle as cover, while Afghanistan has complex mountain terrain as cover.  Taiwan does not have those for continuing importing supply.
  •  The only similar and successful scenario is the guerrilla war of Cuba.  But that one is overthrowing a domestic government, who cannot keep reinforcing the troops like what the US is doing now in Afghanistan.  China, on the other hand, can continuously throw in troops if they have the air and sea superiority, and by the way, they have a lot of troops.
  • guerrilla warfare always means extremely higher casualties for the guerrilla “winner.”  Yes, Afgan won over Soviet Union, and the Taliban seems to have a chance of winning now, and Vietnam won as well.  However, all those guerrilla winners suffer much higher casualties. 
  • guerrilla war does not automatically result in winning, contrarily to what a lot of guerrilla war supporters think.  There are a lot of guerrilla war failures.  Recent one being the Tamil Tigers.

However, guerrilla war does have its merits.  Special forces etc a lot of times perform extremely well.  One can imagine a Taiwan filled with well equiped special forces and guerrilla militia who are more familiar with Taiwan’s terrain and streets giving Chinese army major headache.  However, I would oppose relying on guerrilla war as a principle strategy, because I think that will divert too much resources onto something that simply cannot win the war.  Remember, Chinese army is not the same as the US army or some 3rd rated police army of some small island.  Their army has superior quantity, unlike the US, and they are not afraid to sacrifice massive amount of their troops (ex. Korean War).  Furthermore, one can argue their soldiers could be more brutal and following less rule of engagement than the US soldiers.  Could guerrilla war win against such enemies?

Also, considering how Afghanistan won their war against Soviet Union.  guerrilla war?  or Stinger Missiles courtesy of the USA?  Probably both.  But it’s obvious that Afghan probably could not have won without the US support.  Similarly, who is to say the Taliban now does not have foreign supports of weapons etc?  Maybe it’s even Chinese who supply them those.  Therefore, I think guerrilla war is a good option in making Chinese invasion more difficult, but it alone cannot safe guard Taiwan.  Other conventional weapons such as helicopters and SAM cannot be discarded.

Another interesting idea related to this is the guerrilla war on the sea, written by some guy.  Although the idea is more of a concept, and its possibility requires more study and planning, the idea is fresh and interesting as well.  The pirates of Somalia certainly demonstrated the possibility of such idea.  However, again, this cannot be the principle strategy and main forces of Taiwanese military (even the author said this is more for a supporting role of the regular navy, if I read him correctly).

UPDATE: Forgot one point.  Even if Taiwan is to establish some form of guerrilla war units, they should probably not be modelled after the ones from Afghan and else where due to Taiwan’s unique environment:

  • High urbanization: while Taiwan has a lot of forest and high mountains, it also has large numbers of cities and towns.  Some of the cities are highly developed.  This makes the environment very different from say Vietnam and Afghanistan.
  • High Tech industries: Taiwan has one advantage over Vietnam and Afghanistan, and that is its high tech industries.  Taiwan manufactures or design computers components, cell phones, scooters, high quality cabin cruisers, fishing boats and countless other commercial products.  It has to utilize this advantage somehow to gain an edge, because guerrilla war means asymmetrical warfare: using your advantages to exploit enemies’ weaknesses.

Good Article

Good article by 林保華 that put things in good perspective, I think.

Humm…Could Someone Remind Them…?

This report seems kind of fishy.  Basically the navy fleet detect unknown object near the 左營 naval base during an excercise.  The commander said they had similar experience before as well.  They know for sure those are not whale.  But because when they approach, the object does not intend to submerge deeper and escape, they don’t think they are Chinese submarines neither.  Now the second statement just sound so stupid.  I am not an expert, but I think it’s just common sense.  Just because the object stay the course does not mean it’s not submarines.  It could be the submarine did not detect the ship approaching…who knows, some of the Chinese subs are really old and god knows if their sonars are actually working properly.  Or, they know the ship is coming, but by staying the course, they make you think they are not submarines.  We are talking about military operation, where deception is common activities…so how can a task force commander simply discard the possibility that those are submarines.

Beside, if they are not whale, and they are not submarines, then WTF are they?  UFO? Sea Monsters?  You got to be joking.  Someone needs to tell them that they are making some assumptions that simply do not make any sense.  Try get some better sonar, or find way to detect it more accurately and just see what exactly this thing is.  Speculating based on some preconceived assumption just look stupid, and it could also endanger Taiwan’s navy bases.

UPDATE: Ha, I knew they would sound like idiots.  Now people are making fun of them.

China’s Over Reaction and Pro-China Media’s No Reaction

Obama admin, after a few centuries, finally decide one something that should not surprise anyone: selling Black Hawks, PAC-3, and anti-mine ships.  Really, the list is so uncontroversial, they could have sold those to North Korea and no one would complained.  But wow, they have to sell these to TAIWAN.  Wow, wait a minute, all of a sudden it’s a big news, because look out, China the Drama Queen is ANGRY again.

OK, maybe I am being over sarcastic, because Taiwan does need those items (Black Hawks to replace the aging UH-1 transport fleets.  Mine sweepers to increase anti-blockade capability because China does own large amount and large variety of sea mines, some are quite advance.  PAC-3 is debatable as many still question its effectiveness and cost, but maybe it’s better than nothing).  But truely, the international relationship nowadays looks like a fucking joke.  What are these officials learn from nowadays?  Soup Opera? or babies beating the crap out of each other for a stuffed toy?  The US did not even sell Taiwan the controversial items such as F-16 C/D and submarines, WTF is China crying about?  Wow, Taiwan is going to invade China with its 60 new Black Hawks.  Its new mine sweepers is going to destroy the Chinese fleets with lightning bolts.  Its new PAC-3 is going to bomb the shit out of China.  Rediculous.  None of item sold are even close to a threat to China.  So why is China crying?

I suspect China is just using this as an excuse to get Chinese people angry and unite behind the Communists party.  After Google kicks the CCP in the balls, CCP does need to find some diversion and fabricating or re-emphasizing the outside enemies.

Interestingly, in Taiwan, those pro-China media seems rather quite.  During DPP admin, those pro-China media keeps black smearing whatever the US sold to Taiwan.  They call those weapons “waste iron.”  But now, all of a sudden, no one says shit.  Why don’t they complain about the mine sweepers?  They did complain about the P-3C Orion anti-sub aircraft.  Why don’t they complain about the PAC-3?  They kept complaining about it before.  The point is very simple, their brains grow on their asses.  On the positive side, that’s good.  Because at least now they can actually make some needed arm purchases.

( The order also include other items such as Harpoon anti-ship missiles.  But once again, those are items Taiwan already have and are considered regular stock pile and upgrades.  It should not be a big deal. )

UPDATE: It’s actually a good thing that China over reacted, because it’s actually a good advertisement of Taiwan’s sovereignty, as Liberty Times rightfully pointed outJust look at this photo.

National Defense Is Part Of the Equation

Today there are 3 different article from Liberty Times that caught my attention.  Titles with my attempt translation:

The first article describe how CSBA  create a scenario, and highlights the possible problem in Taiwan Strait in the future, and how this could be one of the top challenge for the USA in the next decade.  To be ready of the potential crisis, the study recommend the Pentagon to have long term planning with discussion and debate about issues such as what to sell to Taiwan etc.  It does not seem to contain things that are too surprising.  However, the general feeling is that the US is focusing very strongly in the middle east.  To China, the current US policy is more of appeasement, because the US policy makers view China as a partner (of course, with the theory that China will turn democratic once it become rich…blah blah blah, we all heard it a thousand times before).  However, with the recent Google incident, one wonder if those policy makers will at least start to have some self-doubt about their believe that investment and trade will automatically bring out democracy and freedom…(even just spell that out sounds really like bull shit.  Economic well beings is necessary for democracy perhaps, but economic well beings do not bring out democracy.  Just look at WW2 era Japan and Germany.  Their people live well enough, but where is the democracy.  Japan’s parliament are occupied by retired military generals, and Germany is ruled by the one and only National Socialist Party, or Nazi for short).  What is perhaps more dire is that currently the US’s Taiwan policy is basically no policy.

The second article come from a famous military magazine editor.  However, although he has his expertise, we of course can only take his idea as only an idea.  The plausibility etc of this idea needs further investigations.  The system and technology is there (Standard Missile 3, developed jointly by the US and Japan), but it could be extremely expensive.  And just how effective it is we don’t know for sure.  Israel does seem to show some interest as well.  However, the missile problem faced by Israel and Taiwan is not exactly the same.  Israel’s main potential missile threat comes from Iran, but Taiwan’s comes from China.  Chinese missile forces is definitely a lot more mature than Iranian, which just got started.  And of course, there is also the nuclear warheads problem…

The 3rd article Chinese spouse in Taiwan.  Currently, there are quite a lot of them, mostly women, as the article pointed out.  To most country, immigration can be a good source of human capitals and exchange of cultures.  However, there are also considerable problems with immigration if it’s not handled properly.  Right now, Taiwan seems to have an imbalance (large portion of Chinese)  problem.  This is indeed a potential problem in my opinion.  However, the complexity of this issue is perhaps beyond my knowledge, because it involves social and human psychologies etc.  The problem I see with this though is the following:

  • Next generation problem: the children raised by Chinese in Taiwan, what would they think about Taiwan?
  • Integration problem:  as can be noted in North America and Europe, a lot of times immigrants, especially first generation, do not fully integrate into the rest of society.  They usually formed a niche community etc.  This is natural and might not be such a bad thing.  However, if its Chinese forming a niche within Taiwan, without much integration with the rest of Taiwanese society, what will happen?  Because afterall, the way Chinese view Taiwan is very different from new immigrants viewing the USA.

This topic might be quite interesing…some academia or government agencies should look into this and plan ahead.

The Importance of National Defense

This news just reminds me of some thoughts I had recently.  One of the strategic national objective of Taiwan is to achieve independence.  The independence I refer here is not just a name change or a new constitution, although have those would be great, even in practical purpose, because wrong name gives confusion and wrong constituion creates problems.  However, what I am talking about here is a bit bigger in scope.  I define it to include free from Chinese threats, coersion and international pressure.  In another word, Taiwan should be able to independently negotiate FTA with other coutnries or bloc if it choose to.  However, to do this, one thing has to happen: China has to give up.  And that is only going to happen if the following occurs:

  1. Chinese government realize that pressuring, threatening or annexing Taiwan has extremely high cost, to the point that doing so would mean the crumbling of CCP rule.
  2. Chinese government realizes that annexing Taiwan has no benefits whatsoever. 

Point 2 would solve all problem but that is quite impossible.  Of course, one can convince the Chinese government so they lower the value of Taiwan.  However, to convince them to the point that they won’t even bother to open their mouth in UN saying that Taiwan is part of China, blah blah blah, is quite impossible.  Geo-political situation simply does not seem to allow it.

Therefore, point 1 becomes important complimentary strategy.  However, to accomplish this is also very difficult, but we can see the importance of national defense to Taiwan’s objective.  Because without strong defense, all other leverage etc becomes useless.  The ideal situation will be that an Chinese invasion becomes impossible, blockage becomes breakable, and missiles barrage becomes useless.  If that is the case, Taiwan would be indepent already.  However, that ideal situation only exists in fantasy land, but it does illustrate the point: national defense is an important part of the equation.

UPDATE:  Someone replied to the 3rd article.  Ha, I knew this topic is going to be controversial.  Damn, maybe the next hot topic that will never get solved would the the policy on Chinese spouse.  I think that the article is debatable, but this reply does have some logical holes in it.

Point 1 of the reply said that the problem of Taiwan population is that it’s decreasing, not increasing.  However, that missed the point of the original article.  The original article is actually saying that the current population is already too many.  Therefore, a bit of decrease in population would actually be a good thing. 

Point 2 is correct…however that is exactly the concern of the original article.  In my opinion, immigration is immigration, it does not matter if it is through marriage or otherwise.  They are moving and living here, that is immigration, by the broader definition.

The final part points out we should treat them well etc since they are now part of Taiwan society.  That is correct.  We cannot treat them otherwise.  Once they are in,  they are part of Taiwan.  However, that is also the concern of the original article, and part of my concern. 

As one of the example shown by the original article, some Chinese women does not think too highly of Taiwanese women…for some reason.  It is this kind of view that I am worried about.  As I mentioned before, Chinese immigrants’ view of Taiwan is very different from immigrants view of the USA.  Chinese are educated from young that Taiwan is part of China etc, which come into clash with the majority view of Taiwan.  From this, other bad feeling toward Taiwan might come out.  Furthermore, not all immigrants like the country they immigrate to.  That sounds very weird, but it’s empirically true. 

The case of Chinese spouse in Taiwan is very unique in my opinion.  There might not bet that many countries which experience this type of situation before.  So my view is still that we should treat the Chinese spouse well, of course.  However, the long term implication of this needs to be understood, and potential problems need to be pointed out.

More on the ASBM

Project 2049 on the Chinese anti-ship ballistic missiles.

For several months now this topic has been brought up by various military publications.  Unfortunately, it looks like the “peaceful rise” policy is more for show.  The intention to deny or discourage the US fleets operation in the west pacific is qauite clear.

Bloomberg and AFP also report on the statements made by Gates on the related subject.

Another Lesson of Typhoons

Reading this nice blog written by Mike make me realize perhaps there is another lesson from typhoons: the danger of unpredictability and the lack of understanding about unpredictability.

I don’t want to be a warmonger etc, but we have to be realistic.  Clearly China is building up significant forces, whether or not it is claiming the so called “peaceful rise.”  Just like Typhoon Morakat, which does not first appear to be a significant typhoon as the weather bureau’s prediction shows.    However, as it reaches Taiwan and bring down more and more rain, the weather bureau starts to adjust the rainfall prediction up rapidly.  During this time, where are Ma and his officials?  They are partying in different places when the rain fall reaches critical amount.  Later Ma blames the weather bureau for inaccurate prediction.  However, as we all know, weather and typhoons, by their very nature,  are unpredictable.  The best you can get is some scientific estimation (and not necessary accurate estimation as it could be way off sometimes.  This is just common sense).  Ma and his officials’ lack of understanding of the unpredictability of typhoons make them over confident,  careless and ill prepared.

Now looking back to China, obviously they are building up their military forces.  It is not easy to predict just how effective their military is.  However, just like typhoon, we cannot afford to be careless, even if “the tie is warming” as those stupid media likes to put it.  The wind might appear weak, but the rain might be deadly.  Or maybe the cloud is thin, but the wind is extra strong.  You never know.  Also, listen to what Ma said during his news conference, and you know he and his advisers seem to understand very little about national defense.  Their lack of understanding, IMO, will once again make them over confident,  careless and ill prepared in this area.

Furthermore, it is not just being careful during time of crisis, it is also about taking actions in the face of rising storm.  Year after year, Taiwan was hit by countless Typhoons.  Every now and then, there are different disasters occurring.  Sometimes more severe, sometimes less.  However, despite all these, Taiwan does not seem to be  prepared enough for them.  The damage of flooding, for example, could be lowered or avoided if good water and river management system and policies were in place.

The same goes for the military buildups in China.  We see the buildups, but is Taiwan doing something about it?  And what direction should Taiwan take to counter such buildups?  Those are very valid and important question, but I wonder if anyone puts enough thoughts or actions into answering them.  Just like Typhoons, after each one, people complain about them, but are there enough actions taken to prevent the next possible disaster?

Similar to the typhoons, there are a lot of warnings about China, and the warning is getting stronger and stronger.  However, one wonders if the government is still partying despite the rising warnings, like what they did when Typhoon Morakat made its landfall?