The stakes are too high for Taiwan to waste money on outdated programs.
Date: November 30, 2019
By: Michael A. Hunzeker and Joseph Petrucelli
Taiwan faces an existential threat. China considers it a renegade province, is actively trying toisolate it from the rest of the world, and reserves the right to forcibly annex it. Although the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long believed in a “sacred duty” to assert political control over the island nation, its current leader, Xi Jinping, is growing impatient and is clearly unwilling to let Taiwan become the next generation’s “problem.”
Despite the stakes, Taiwan’s military has not always been particularly creative in how it planned to defend the island. For decades, it was content to depend upon a small inventory of expensive, but obsolete, American-made jets and ships. The thinking rested on two assumptions: Taiwan had to hold out long enough for the United States to intervene. And the United States’ willingness to sell outdated weapons somehow signaled its willingness and ability to defend Taiwan in a war with China.
China’s decades-long military modernization efforts, as well as its extensive anti-access capabilities, call both assumptions into question.
Thankfully, President Tsai Ing-wen is pushing Taiwan’s military leaders to come up with something better. Taiwan’s new Overall Defense Concept (ODC) stands out as a particularly important result of her willingness to challenge old military shibboleths. The brainchild of Taiwan’s recently retired Chief of the General Staff, Admiral Lee Hsi-ming, ODC acknowledges that Taiwan cannot afford to match China jet for jet or ship for ship. Instead, ODC seeks to deter China by making an invasion unacceptably difficult and costly using large numbers of inexpensive weapons, including anti-air missiles, missile boats, and naval mines. [FULL STORY]