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Military of the Republic of China

The Republic of China (ROC) (commonly known as Taiwan) maintains a large and technologically advanced military establishment, which accounted for 16.8% of the central budget in the fiscal year of 2003. It is historically continuous with the Nationalist Army that retreated from mainland China to Taiwan with the Kuomintang (KMT) at the end of the Chinese Civil War, when the mainland was taken over by the Communist Party of China.

Until the 1970s, the military's primary mission was to retake mainland China by destroying the Communist Party of China. The military's current foremost mission is the defense of the islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu against a possible invasion by the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China (PRC), which is seen as the predominant threat to the ROC in the ongoing dispute over the political status of Taiwan.

Personnel

The ROC's armed forces number approximately 300,000, and reserves reportedly total 3,870,000. Conscription remains universal for qualified males reaching age 18. Force streamlining programs under way since 1997 are combining redundant institutions and steadily reducing the military to 270,000 personnel by 2012. However, even then there would be compulsory basic training for all males reaching 18. As the size of the force decreases, Taiwan intends to gradually expand the number of volunteer soldiers with the eventual goal of forming an all volunteer career force.

The ROC military's officer corps is generally viewed as being competent, capable, technically proficient, and generally pro-U.S. in outlook, displaying a high degree of professionalism. However, as a whole, the culture in the officer corps tends to be very cautious and conservative. The military also faces difficulties in the recruitment and retention of junior officers and NCO's due to competition with the private sector.

Morale in the enlisted corps is claimed by the People's Republic of China to be rather low, due in part to difficulties in retention of experienced NCO's, shorter service time and a traditional military culture which discourages lower-level risk-taking, and competition with the private sector which is generally viewed as offering better opportunities, especially for the technically savvy.

Because of the historical legacy having once controlled mainland China, the army has traditionally been the most important of Taiwan's military forces, although this has declined in recent years with the realization that the traditional army's role in defending against a PRC invasion is limited. As a result, recent force modernization programs have resulted in the reorganization of the Army into smaller units as a quick deployment mobile troops. For the same reason, more emphasis is being placed on the development of the Navy and Air Force, in order to fend off attacks in the Taiwan Strait, away from Taiwan proper.

Organization

Military branches and structure

The following service commands are directly subordinate to the General Staff, headed by the Chief of the General Staff, which answers to the Minister of Defense and the ROC President:

The Coast Guard Administration was created as a separate branch in 2001 from related police and military units and is administered by the Executive Yuan.

Arms purchases and weapons development

Acquisitions over the next several years will emphasize modern C 4 ISR equipment that will vastly improve communications and data-sharing among services. These and other planned acquisitions will gradually shift the island’s strategic emphasis to offshore engagement of invading PRC forces. It is hoped that this will serve to reduce civilian casualties and damage to infrastructure in the event of armed conflict.

The ROC's armed forces are equipped with weapons obtained primarily from the United States, examples being 150 F-16A/B Block-20 MLU fighters, 6 E-2 Hawkeyes, licensed produced Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, 63 AH-1W attack helos, 39 OH-58D scout helos and 200 Patriot PAC-II SAMs. In 1992 the USA agreed to sell the AEGIS SPY 1F to Taiwan, to be installed on a special version of the Perry-class frigates. Taiwan later gave up on this plan due to technical difficulties.

The ROC has also procured two Hai Lung class class submarines from the Netherlands and 60 Mirage 2000-5Di/Ei fighters from France together with six French La Fayette stealth frigates. Taiwan also has four German made minesweepers.

In 2001, the United States approved the sale of a number of weapons systems, including the sale of eight diesel submarines, six Patriot PAC-3 SAMs and 12 P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft. Out of the items authorised, Taiwan currently has four Kidd-class destroyers, M109A6 units, two additional E2-C Hawkeyes and nine Chinook heavy transport helicopters in service.

In light of the continuous ballistic missile buildup by the PRC, Taiwan has also demonstrated the capability of long range supersonic cruise missiles.

The military budget for 2007 (passed 16 June) included funds for the procurement of 12 P-3C Orion patrol aircraft, 66 F-16 C/D Block 52 fighters, the upgrade of existing PAC-2 batteries to PAC-3 standard and a feasibility study into the planned purchase of conventionally-powered submarines offered by the US way back in 2001.

In July 2007 it was reported that the ROC Army would request the purchase of 30 AH-64D II Apache attack helicopters from in the 2008 defence budget. The United Daily News reported that as many as 90 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters would also be ordered to replace the UH-1Hs currently in service.

During August, Taiwan requested 60 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles, 2 Harpoon guidance control units, 30 Harpoon containers, 30 Harpoon extended air-launch lugs, 50 Harpoon upgrade kits from AGM-84G to AGM-84L configuration and other related elements of logistics and program support, the total value being $125 million. The United States government indicated its approval of the order with notification to the United States Congress of the potential sale.

On 14 August, seven lawmakers from Taiwan arrived in the U.S. to conduct a feasibility study for a submarine procurement deal. The group stated that the visit was to learn about the production capacity of U.S. submarine manufacturers and the attitude of the U.S. Government towards the deal. They hoped to "obtain the best submarines for Taiwan at the most reasonable price." Members of the group included legislators from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and the opposition KMT, People First Party and Taiwan Solidarity Union. In addition to visiting the Pentagon and other related U.S. government agencies, they also visited four submarine manufacturers. The group travelled to Washington, D.C. and Boston, and to four arms manufacturers Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics.

In mid September 2007, the Pentagon notified the U.S. Congress of P-3C Orion order, which included 12 Orions and three "spare aircraft", along with an order for 144 SM-2 Block IIIA missiles. The total value of the 12 P-3C Orions were estimated at around $1.96 billion and $272 million for the 144 SM-2 missiles.

In mid November 2007, the Pentagon notified the US Congress about a possible sale to upgrade Taiwan's Patriot missile batteries to the PAC-3 standard. The total value of the upgrade could be as much as $939 million.

The US government announced on the 3rd of October that it plans to sell $6.5 billion dollars worth of arms to Taiwan ending the freeze of arms sales to Taiwan. The plans include $2.5 billion dollars worth of 30 AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters with night-vision sensors, radar, Stinger Block I air-to-air missiles and 1000 AGM-114L Hellfire missiles. Additionally it will include the sale of PAC III missiles (330), 4 missile batteries, radar sets, ground stations and other equipment valued up to $3.1 billion. 4 E-2T aircraft upgrades will also be included worth up to $250 million. $200 million worth of Harpoon Block II missiles (32) will also be available for sale and $334 million worth of various aircraft spare parts. Additionally 182 Javelin missiles will also be available with 20 Javelin command launchers. However not included in the arms sale are the 66 F-16 C/D fighter planes, feasibility study of 8 diesel-electric submarines and 60 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The remains of the arms request is currently under evaluation as stated in a statement by an official of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. It is expected that if the rest of the package is passed, it would be notified to congress when it resumes in November.

The military has also stressed military "self-reliance," which has led to the growth of indigenous military production, producing items such as Taiwan's Indigenous Defense Fighter, the RT-2000 M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System, the Sky Bow I and Sky Bow II SAMs and Hsung Feng series of supersonic anti-ship missiles. Taiwan's efforts at arms purchases have consistently been opposed by the People's Republic of China (PRC). The PRC has also consistently attempted to block co-operation between the ROC military and those of other countries.

Reforms and development

Civilian control of the military

Two defense reform laws implemented in 2002 granted the civilian defense minister control over the entire military and expanded legislative oversight authority for the first time in history. In the past the ROC military was closely linked with and controlled by the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party). Following the democratization of the 1990s the military has moved to a politically neutral position, though the senior officer ranks remain dominated by KMT members.

Doctrine and exercises

The primary goal of the ROC Armed Forces is to provide a credible deterrent against hostile action by establishing effective counterstrike and defense capabilities. Should hostilities occur, current ROC military doctrine centers upon the principle of "offshore engagement" where the primary goal of the armed forces in any conflict with the PRC would be to keep as much of the fighting away from Taiwan proper for as long as possible to minimize damage to infrastructure and civilian casualties. The military has also begun to take the threat of a sudden "decapitation attack" by the PRC seriously. Consequently, these developments have seen a growing emphasis on the role of the Navy and Air Force (where the Army had traditionally dominated); as well as the development of rapid reaction forces and quick mobilization of local reserve forces.

Annually, the ROC Military conducts full exercises called "Han Kuang" which may sometimes include all branches of the military to participate in one or two specific exercises, they show the Taiwanese media the various weapons they have acquired and give special performances from the army, navy and air force. "Han Kuang" exercises are held throughout Taiwan mainly at the main expected invasion areas. In 2007 there was an army exercise simulating a counterattack against PLA forces who have captured Taichung Port. An air force exercise simulating that air bases throughout Taiwan have been destroyed and are forced to use a major highway as an airstrip. ROCN (navy) exercise where an invasion force is heading toward Taiwan, destroyers, frigates and attack boats are called to fire missiles and attack dummy targets.

A series of computer simulations conducted by the ROC Ministry of National Defense in 2004 predicted that, in the event of a full scale invasion by the PRC, Taipei would fall after almost three weeks. It also showed that the ROC Air Force would be eliminated by about the fifth day. However, the simulation results indicate that the PRC would lose about two-thirds of all its military forces in the process. The results of the simulation are hotly debated since they came at a time when the Legislative Yuan was debating one of the largest arms procurement packages in recent years.

Foreign cooperation

Japan

While some reports have also indicated the presence of retired Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) personnel as advisors, there is no official cooperation between the ROC military and the JSDF. It is believed that any Japanese involvement in a cross-Straits conflict would be very much contingent upon the US response, due to the nearest US forces in the region being based in Japan and the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan.

Singapore

Starting in 1975, Singapore has sent units from its military to train in Taiwan due to the lack of space in the city-state under the Starlight training program (星光計畫). Singapore forces training in Taiwan numbered roughly 3000 as of 2005. As of 2008, Singapore is the only foreign country to maintain permanent military bases on Taiwan.

Singapore being an island surrounded by larger countries found similarity with Taiwan; this might have contributed to its suitability as a training ground. However this became a point of conflict between Singapore and Beijing. Beijing demanded the withdrawal of troops and offered to provide another training ground on Hainan Island. Singapore refused the offer, rather stated it would withdraw its forces and not take part in any confrontation.

United States

Collaboration between the ROC and US militaries began during World War II when both nations were members of the Allied forces, and continued through the Chinese Civil War when ROC forces were supplied primarily by the US until the final evacuation of ROC forces to Taiwan in 1949. Initially the U.S. expected the ROC government to fall and withdrew support until the outbreak of the Korean War when the U.S. 7th Fleet was ordered to the Taiwan Straits both to protect Taiwan from a PRC attack, and to stop ROC actions against the PRC. A formal US-ROC security pact was signed in 1954 establishing a formal alliance that lasted until US recognition of the PRC in 1979. During this period US military advisors were deployed to the ROC and joint exercises were common. The US and ROC also collaborated on human and electronic intelligence operations directed against the PRC. ROC units also participated in the Korean War and the Vietnam War in noncombat capacities, primarily at the insistence of the United States which was concerned that high profile roles for ROC forces in these conflicts would lead to full scale PRC intervention.

High-level cooperation ended with the US recognition of the PRC in 1979, when all remaining US forces in Taiwan were withdrawn. The US continued to supply the ROC with arms sales per the Taiwan Relations Act, albeit in a diminished role. While ROCAF pilots continued to train at Luke AFB in Arizona, cooperation is still limited primarily to civilian contractors.

In recent years, the ROC military has again begun higher level cooperation with the U.S. Military after over two decades of relative isolation. Senior officers from the U.S. Pacific Command observed the annual Han Kuang military exercises in 2005. The US also upgraded its military liaison position in Taipei from a position held by retired officers hired on a contractual basis to one held by an active duty officer the same year. The US remains committed to protecting Taiwan from PRC attack, though not if Taiwan were to declare formal independence first - Washington has stated it will not back such a declaration with military support.

Military parades

The Republic of China held their first military parade on 10 October 2007 for National Day celebrations since 1991. Previously parades weren't held as the government tried to ease the tension between Taiwan and the PRC and to try and promote peace, however ever since the military balance started to favour Beijing, the Taiwanese government has been under pressure to deter Communist China. The military parade was designed to act as a deterrent to Beijing. "The display of military equipment is a kind of effective deterrent, so that the Chinese communists would be aware that Taiwan is tough,".

The parade unveiled Taiwan's new indigenous Hsiung Feng III Supersonic Anti-Ship missiles, Sky Bow III Surface to Air missiles and a few of Taiwan's very own Chung Shyang II UAVs. However the expected unveiling of the Hsiung Feng IIE surface to surface missile which could hit Shanghai was not unveiled as the defence minister stated that it was still under development. Military aircraft including the US made F-16 A/Bs & F-5s, French produced Mirage 2000-5s and domestically made IDFs flew past the parade area in formation. US made AH-1W Super Cobras, CH-47 Chinooks, UH-1 & S-70C Helicopters and E-2 Hawkeye version "K", S-2 Tracker & C-130 Hercules aircraft also flew past. Cadets then filled the main area, and performed various march formation and tricks with their rifles. Military police then drove out in style with their Harley-Davidson bikes numbering in total of around 50. The new CM-32 APCs, AAVP7 Amphibious Assault Vehicles, HUMVEEs fitted with BGM-71 TOW 2nd generation anti-tank missiles and FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles, Avengers anti-air vehicles, M48 Chaparral anti-air vehicles fitted with Sky Sword I missiles and other various vehicles were driven out in order. Sky Bow I, Sky Bow II & Sky Bow III missiles, PATRIOT missiles and Hsiung Feng II & Hsiung Feng III missiles with their launchers were droven out and showcased in front of the large crowd. Meanwhile, Taiwanese marines, army special forces and counter terrorist units were driven out in vehicles with various new weaponry including the home made T-91 rifle, customised M4A1s and M16s with attachments and the newly purchased MP5s.

Military ranks

The ROC military's rank structure is patterned after that of the U.S. Armed Forces. Note that the titles of each rank are the same in Chinese for all four military branches. The corresponding titles in English for each service are also provided.

ROC Officer Ranks
Chinese title Army / Marines / MP Navy Air Force
一級/二級上將 General Admiral General
中將 Lieutenant General Vice Admiral Lieutenant General
少將 Major General Rear Admiral Major General
上校 Colonel Captain Colonel
中校 Lieutenant Colonel Commander Lieutenant Colonel
少校 Major Lieutenant Commander Major
上尉 Captain Lieutenant Captain
中尉 1st Lieutenant Lieutenant Junior Grade 1st Lieutenant
少尉 2nd Lieutenant Ensign 2nd Lieutenant

ROC Enlisted Ranks
Chinese title Army / Marines / MP Navy Air Force
一等士官長 Sergeant Major Master Chief Petty Officer Chief Master Sergeant
二等士官長 Master Sergeant Senior Chief Petty Officer Senior Master Sergeant
三等士官長 Sergeant First Class Chief Petty Officer Master Sergeant
上士 Staff Sergeant Petty Officer 1st Class Technical Sergeant
中士 Sergeant Petty Officer 2nd Class Staff Sergeant
下士 Corporal Petty Officer 3rd Class Senior Airman
上等兵 Private First Class Seaman First Class Airman First Class
一等兵 Private Seaman Airman
二等兵 Private Basic Seaman Apprentice Airman Basic

Major deployments, battles & incidents

ROC on Mainland China (1912-1949)

ROC on Taiwan (1949-present)

Nuclear weapons program

The development of nuclear weapons by the ROC has been a contentious issue, as it has been cited by the PRC as a reason to attack Taiwan. The U.S., hoping to avoid escalating tensions in the Taiwan Strait, has continually opposed arming the ROC with nuclear weapons. Accordingly, the ROC adheres to the principles of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has stated that it does not intend to produce nuclear weapons. Past nuclear research by the ROC makes it a 'threshold' nuclear state.

In 1967, a nuclear weapons program began under the auspices of the Institute of Nuclear Energy Research (INER) at the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology. The ROC was able to acquire nuclear technology from abroad (including a research reactor from Canada and low-grade plutonium from the United States) allegedly for a civilian energy system, but in actuality to develop fuel for nuclear weapons.

After the International Atomic Energy Agency found evidence of the ROC's efforts to produce weapons-grade plutonium, Taipei agreed in September 1976 under U.S. pressure to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. Though the nuclear reactor was soon shut down and the plutonium mostly returned to the U.S., work continued secretly.

A secret program was revealed when Colonel Chang Hsien-yi, deputy director of nuclear research at INER who was secretly working for the CIA defected to the U.S. in December 1987 and produced a cache of incriminating documents. General Hau Pei-tsun claimed that scientists in Taiwan had already produced a controlled nuclear reaction. Under pressure from the U.S., the program was halted.

During the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, then ROC President Lee Teng-hui proposed to reactivate the program, but was forced to back down a few days later after drawing intense criticism.

See also

References

External links

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