Tag Archive: force modernization

The Obama Administration Announces U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

 

The US-Taiwan Business Council today welcomed the decision by the U.S. Department of State to announce its approval of possible Foreign Military Sales to Taiwan. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certifications notifying Congress of the proposed Taiwan sales on December 16, 2015.

 

The published Congressional Notifications (transmittal numbers 15-27, 15-44, 15-45, 15-72, 15-74, 16-01, 16-05, and 16-06) were for two of the four FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates that that the U.S. authorized by law for transfer to Taiwan a year ago, and associated materials (at a refurbishment and upgrade cost of US$190 million); 36 AAV-7 Assault Amphibious Vehicles (US$375 million); 13 MK 15 Phalanx Block 1B ship defense Close-In Weapon Systems, upgrade kits, ammunition, and support (US$416 million); 208 Javelin guided missiles, technical assistance, logistics, and program support (US$57 million); 769 BGM-71F-series TOW 2B Aero Radio Frequency anti-armor missiles, support, and training (US$268 million); 250 Block I-92F MANPAD Stinger missiles, related equipment and support (US$217 million); Taiwan Advanced Tactical Data Link System (TATDLS) and Link 11 communication systems integration (US$75 million); Follow-on support for Taiwan’s MIDS/LVT-1 and JTIDS previously procured (US$ 120 million).[i]

 

Taiwan is poised to elect a new President on January 16, 2016. The timing of this announcement is therefore useful as a modest signal to China that the U.S. has equities in the peaceful transition of power on the island, and that it supports Taiwan’s democratic system. However, the Taiwan Relations Act states that “the United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.” In light of this recent sale, the US-Taiwan Business Council poses a number of questions for the Obama Administration:

 

  1. Why did it take over four years to prepare this arms package? The last U.S. arms sale to Taiwan took place on September 21, 2011.
  2. Why isn’t Taiwan being offered any new capabilities to counter changes to the Chinese threat over this period?
  3. What impact are delays in consideration and execution of Taiwan arms requests having on the island’s ability to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability?

 

The contents of the arms package announced today – along with the unprecedented four-year delay since the last arms sale – raises serious questions as to whether it serves as a response commensurate to the threat posed by China’s military. The past four years has seen increased Chinese force modernization efforts, and according to the U.S. Department of Defense “the PLA has developed and deployed military capabilities to coerce Taiwan or to attempt an invasion, if necessary.[ii]

 

The Obama Administration’s focus on China military-to-military engagement and other initiatives in which China’s cooperation is viewed as crucial, such as on climate change efforts, is directly and negatively impacting U.S. willingness to maintain consistent and credible support for Taiwan’s self-defense. This in turn directly impacts the seriousness with which China views our intentions to assist Taiwan.

 

Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers noted that “There have been myriad initiatives in U.S.-Taiwan bilateral security relations since the last arms sale in 2011. However, while China has deployed new fighters, submarines, and missiles during the last four years, the U.S. has consistently refused to consider providing Taiwan access to similar platforms, or even aiding their indigenous development.

 

In addition, the process for considering, assessing, and processing Taiwan arms sales is broken. The contorted efforts to provide the minimum over an extended period has amounted to long delays and to the U.S. providing only second-hand equipment and additional munitions for systems already in Taiwan’s inventory. The U.S. is placing its China priorities ahead of our legacy and legal requirement to provide for Taiwan’s self-defense. We see no effort to meaningfully address China’s modernization efforts with new capabilities for Taiwan – not because they are unneeded, but because the political cost to China relations is perceived as being too high. Yet that perception was roundly debunked by the Council and Project 2049 in our 2012 report on Chinese reactions to arms sales.[iii]

 

Hammond-Chambers also said “The process that has seen the bundling of Taiwan arms sales into large packages has run its course. The arbitrary manner in which programs are considered, the absence of a broader strategy for providing Taiwan consistent material support, and the long delays in processing and notifying them to Congress is hampering Taiwan’s ability to mount a serious defense. By bundling programs into packages, the U.S. forces Taiwan to buy all necessary equipment at once rather than in an orderly year-on-year process. If requests go unaddressed for years, or programs are long delayed, how can Taiwan reasonably maintain domestic political support for them, or develop the budget for its ongoing force modernization?

 

The US-Taiwan Business Council supports the return to a normal and regular process for assessing all Taiwan arms sales requests and sales. Additionally, the Council believes that the bilateral security relationship needs to be clear about what new capabilities should accompany ongoing training and exchanges in aid of Taiwan’s self-defense – including addressing quantitative issues impacting its fighter fleet, its requirement for submarines to complicate Chinese invasion scenarios, as well as further improvements in Taiwan’s missile defense capabilities.

 

[i] As of 1:00 pm on December 16, 2015. For details, see the DSCA website at http://www.dsca.mil/major-arms-sales
[ii] See: “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2015” http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2015_China_Military_Power_Report.pdf
[iii] See: “Chinese Reactions to Taiwan Arms Sales” http://www.us-taiwan.org/reports/2012_chinese_reactions_to_taiwan_arms_sales.pdf

Press Release: The Obama Administration Announces U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan (PDF)

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Link

Clear signals needed on F-16C/Ds

Editorial in the Taipei Times.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ustaiwandefense.com/clear-signals-needed-on-f-16cds-taipei-times/

Special Commentary: US-Taiwan Business Council Welcomes Congressional Notification of Sales to Taiwan of PAC-3 Missile Units, BLACK HAWK Helicopters, OSPREY Ships, HARPOON Missiles and MIDS/LVT-1 Terminals

The US-Taiwan Business Council welcomes Congressional Notification of Arms Sales to Taiwan

The US-Taiwan Business Council today welcomed the Obama Administration’s decision to notify Congress of the following arms sales programs for Taiwan, with a total value of US$6.392 billion:

  • 114 PATRIOT Advanced Capability (PAC-3) Missiles, 3 AN/MPQ-65 Radar Sets and Other Related Equipment & Services [US$2.81 billion]
  • 60 UH-60M BLACK HAWK Helicopters, With Technical & Logistics Support [US$3.1 billion]
  • 2 OSPREY Class Mine Hunting Ships, Including Refurbishment & Upgrade [US$105 million]
  • 10 RTM-84L HARPOON Block II Telemetry Missiles, 2 ATM-84L HARPOON Block II Telemetry Missiles, and Other Related Equipment & Services [US$37 million]
  • 35 Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems Low Volume Terminals (MIDS/LVT-1), with 25 MIDS On Ships Terminals and Other Related Equipment & Support [US$340 million]

The submarine “design phase” notification was not included and remains in limbo. Details on these arms sales programs are available via the DSCA website.

The United States provides Taiwan with these modern defensive weapons not as a goal in and of itself. It is China’s actions – its massive military expansion and modernization, and the commensurate imbalance it creates in the Taiwan Strait – that prompt this U.S. response.

Releasing these programs represents a step forward in the ongoing process of providing Taiwan with weapons systems for its own self defense. The Black Hawk program is particularly welcome, as Taiwan’s need for replacement helicopters is acute both for military and disaster relief operations. Given the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot this past August, it is evident that Black Hawks will offer a significant upgrade to the Taiwan military’s ability to assist citizens in times of national emergency.

While we welcome these notifications, the Council nevertheless remains concerned about the continued stacking of multiple congressional notifications into groups, as well as the increased stretches of time between such notification packages.

Special Commentary: US-Taiwan Business Council Welcomes Congressional Notification of Sales to Taiwan of PAC-3 Missile Units, BLACK HAWK Helicopters, OSPREY Ships, HARPOON Missiles and MIDS/LVT-1 Terminals (PDF)

Related DSCA Notices

 

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Defense News Editorial on Cross-Strait Detente

Early last month, several of Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense officials met with the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign and National Defense Committee. During his testimony, Chang Liang-jen, vice minister of national defense, noted that Taiwan’s defense procurement budget will be reduced as a result of the planned move to an all-volunteer force. He did not state whether that reduction is simply through the transition period or a long-term adjustment.

The move to an all-volunteer force is not the only pressure on Taiwan’s defense budget. Taiwan’s economy is expected to contract by 6 percent to 7 percent in 2009, and it is likely that defense spending will come under extensive budgetary pressures as the government of President Ma Ying-jeou seeks to allocate greater resources to social welfare and industrial development.

The contraction will allow Ma to claim that he is maintaining his commitment to spending 3 percent of GDP on defense. But as a practical matter, we would likely see a significant and real drop in defense spending.

Such a reduction in resources, and the slowing in Taiwan force modernization that comes with it, could seriously jeopardize the ability of the Ma government to place Taiwan’s relations with China on firm and sustainable footing.

Ma enjoys high support for his country’s policies toward China not as a goal unto itself, but as part of a broader strategy to improve Taiwan’s international profile and operating space.

Yet China continues to hedge on its Taiwan policy. China is continuing its force modernization efforts, and the People’s Liberation Army remains focused on ensuring its ability to coerce Taiwan while deterring U.S. intervention. The Chinese feel a need for options, including military ones.

Ma is therefore wholly beholden to the willingness of the Chinese to continue to provide Taiwan with greater international breathing room. If the Chinese balk or fail to make material concessions, domestic support for Ma’s policies will erode. The prospect of a chastened Ma government and a China frustrated over another failed strategy is deeply troubling. This is a contingency that should not be overlooked.

Conversely, Taiwan’s negotiating position is strengthened immeasurably by a robust U.S. security commitment; it underpins Ma’s outreach and ensures a degree of Chinese respect for Taiwan’s options. This is an essential component if Taiwan-China detente is to have legs and if Ma is to build enough momentum to ride out the rougher patches that are sure to come.

Editorial in Defense News – “Detente Needs Muscle: Taiwan Modernization Underpins Chinese Dealings”

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ustaiwandefense.com/council-defense-news-editorial-on-cross-strait-detente/

Defense News Editorial on Taiwan Arms Sales

When the U.S. State Department notified Congress Oct. 3 of a proposed $6.4 billion arms package offering a range of defensive weaponry to Taiwan, the sheer scope and cost of the package caught everyone’s attention.

Yet the package has a history dating back to 2001, and these notifications were both incomplete and well past due. The U.S. administration has drifted away from long-established policy in dealing with Taiwan during this time, and it only undercuts American interests in Asia.

U.S. President George W. Bush released a number of items for sale to Taiwan in April 2001 that were seen as crucial to Taiwan’s military modernization, thus fulfilling an important role in U.S. obligations to provide for Taiwan’s self-defense under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). That decision was based on counsel from all parties in the U.S. interagency process, as well as on Taiwan’s own assessment of its defense needs.

Taiwan bears equal responsibility for the seven-year impasse over arms sales, given its domestic political wrangling over the arms budget. Nevertheless, the budgets for these systems were passed in Taiwan in 2007, with eight pending congressional notifications starting to roll into the State Department from the Defense Department in early 2008.

While the notification package sent to Capitol Hill was welcome as a positive step in an otherwise troubled relationship, it omitted Black Hawk utility helicopters for logistics and humanitarian support, well as some of the requested Patriot anti-missile systems and a submarine design program.

It also took more than seven months for the notifications to accumulate – an unprecedented action irrespective of Bush administration claims that this was part of “a normal interagency process.” There is simply no existing example of notifications being stacked at the State Department in such a manner.

Editorial in Defense News – “Taiwan Arms: 2 Steps Back, 1 Step Forward” (PDF)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ustaiwandefense.com/council-defense-news-editorial-on-taiwan-arms-sales/

Special Commentary: Inconsistent U.S. Defense Priorities Undermine Taiwan Force Modernization

The US-Taiwan Business Council issues a statement commenting on Taiwan’s Counter-strike Missile Program and U.S. policy towards Taiwan Force Modernization

In the early part of 2007, the Bush Administration tacked a new course on Taiwan’s counter-strike missile program. The new heading was triggered by Ministry of National Defense testimony in the Legislative Yuan (LY) on the fiscal demands for further research, development, and limited deployment of the indigenous HF-2E counter-strike missile – over US$1 billion between 2008 and 2012.

The Bush Administration’s new direction vis-à-vis Taiwan’s counter-strike effort is driven by their increasingly negative view of Taiwan and of its role as a reliable partner in Asia. Rather than consider the tactical and strategic nature of such a capability, the Bush Administration has chosen to focus on the behavior of outgoing Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian as the principal driver for its cross-Strait threat assessment. It has become about politics, not about the balance of power across the Strait. Regrettably, this short term view is impacting programs that should play a critical role in Taiwan’s ability to counter a PRC attack well after President Chen has retired. The denial of a second batch of F-16s to replace aging Vietnam era platforms, and the turnaround on support for Taiwan’s counter-strike missile programs are at the forefront.

Editorial in Defense News (PDF)
Special Commentary: Inconsistent U.S. Defense Priorities Undermine Taiwan Force Modernization (PDF)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ustaiwandefense.com/council-statement-on-taiwan-counter-strike-missiles-and-us-policy/

Taiwan Ministry of National Defense (MND) Reports

 

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) occasionally publishes reports on the status of the military and national security in Taiwan.

Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR)

The Amendment to Article 31 of the National Defense Act passed by the Legislative Yuan on July 17, 2008 mandates the MND to submit a Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) within ten months after every new president takes office in order to review and confirm defense strategy and military strategy, and provide a vision for future development.

The Taiwan Quadrennial Defense Review website is located at http://qdr.mnd.gov.tw

Quadrennial Defense Review 2009

Published in March, 2009

Quadrennial Defense Review 2013

Published in March, 2013

National Defense Report

The Ministry of National Defense is obligated to periodically report “what it has done, what it is doing, what it prepares to do, why it is going to do so” to the people in accordance with Article 30 of the National Defense Act. The National Defense Report is published to give citizens a better understanding of the nation’s current security environment and national defense policy.

The Taiwan National Defense Report website is located at http://report.mnd.gov.tw

National Defense Report 2002

Published July, 2002

National Defense Report 2008

Published May 13, 2008

National Defense Report 2011

Published August 22, 2011

National Defense Report 2013

Published October, 2013

National Defense Report 2015

Published October, 2015

For the Chinese language version, see http://report.mnd.gov.tw

 

 

Additional versions of these reports are also available at the Thinking Taiwan “Complete Collection of Taiwan’s Defence Policy Documents” page.

 

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