Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen orders revamp of military strategy, weapons upgrade

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said on Thursday Taiwan needs a new military strategy with a clearer direction plus reforms to enable the building of a “new” military.

Tsai said she had asked the Defence Ministry to complete a draft of a new military strategy by January next year.

“The challenges the military faces today come from two areas: limitations from outside and insufficiencies from inside,” Tsai said, without elaborating.

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Relations between Taiwan and mainland China have been strained since Tsai’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office in May.

Taiwan has been governed separately from the rest of mainland China since nationalist troops fled to the island in 1949 after losing the civil war to communist forces.

Tsai said that while the military reform process could be painful, “if the goal is clear and strategy is effective, I believe we will secure the mountain top if we push forward courageously”.

Tsai said replacing obsolete military equipment would also top the agenda.

She made the remarks while inspecting a live-fire drill as part of military exercises in Pingtung southern Taiwan.

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It was her first time attending the annual event as commander-in-chief since taking office in May.

Han Kuang, or Han Glory, is Taiwan’s largest annual military drill and involves all sections of the military.

The aim is to test the island’s ability to fend off an attack from mainland China and simulate attacks by sea, air and land.

This year’s exercises began in various regions on Monday and will end on Friday.

The live-fire drills in Pingtung tested the combat capability of weapon systems bought from the United States.

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These include Apache attack helicopters, Black Hawk helicopters, P-3C Orion anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles.

Domestically produced weaponry tested included IDF jet fighters, unmanned aerial vehicles, Clouded Leopard armoured vehicles, the stealth missile corvette Tuo Jiang and the supply vessel Panshih.