Saturday, September 16, 2017

“Taiwan to participate US Navy drill”: Taipei Times Sept. 11, 2017

What a sensational headline! 38 years after cutting off formal diplomatic ties with us the United States finally came to its senses? No. Those guys in the State Department and the Pentagon still have very clear minds not to offend China. The report only said that Taiwan observers were invited to present at the drill and clearance was given to board navy helicopters to watch the anti-submarine war game. I read the report three times which had not mentioned whether these observers were permitted to watch the drill in their uniforms or not.

China has known that the US never stops unofficial contacts with Taiwan militarily. As long as such connection infringes Sino-American communiques signed, China would turn a blind eye to our cooperation with the US. For instance, China knows perfectly that the US has been training Taiwanese air force pilots. Nevertheless, China will take no action if these flyboys do not pilot their F-16 fighters beyond the central line of the Taiwan Strait.

Another report the other day was about Taiwan’s military strength. As the year 2017 would see the last time the practice of compulsory military service, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) is worried that the military might not get enough men or women to serve if full voluntary military service is put into practice next year. The MND said it needed at least 175,000 men to defend this island. Well, some said it would not be necessarily using so many troops if the military knows better about how to use their existing human resources more effectively.

My readers who have been in service must have remembered the time you were ordered to lawn the grass in the boot camp. It was a typical act of wasting manpower. Why not hire civilian contractors to cut the grass and let the recruits learn about their soldiering skills? 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What happened to the Navy…and the Marine?

Two weeks ago a sailor was found dead by swallowing pesticide. According to a media report, Senior Chief Petty Officer Chiu of Navy’s 164th Fleet Command was assigned to recruit sailors from high school graduates. Chiu, who was married, however, had affairs with two high school girls. He had sex with both girls and told each of them that it would be easier for him to be with them if they volunteered to enlist the navy. Both girls did as told. Coincidentally, at Navy’s Recruit Training Center, these two girls were placed on the same squad of the same company. In their free time, they told each other about their own boyfriend and found that they were talking about the same person. Both girls reported Chiu to the authorities, and he was therefore held under probe. It was believed that Chiu had committed suicide because he was under grave pressure.

Another scandal happened in the Marine Corps. The commanding officer of the Medical Company of the 99th Marine Brigade and the female company sergeant, both married, had affairs. Being the CO’s favored concubine, she acted like an underground company commander and got herself involved in the unit’s job assignments, which annoyed the whole company. According to the media report, they checked in a motel in Henchun in southern Taiwan where their company took part in the annual war game of the armed forces. The company commander even used the official notebook to record the fee spend at the motel and his physical changes before and after taking Viagra. Navy Headquarters said that the CO and the sergeant had been removed from their post and ordered to discharge from the service.  

Monday, September 04, 2017

Nine shots? Is it excessive use of deadly force?

This morning, migrant workers groups along with human rights groups staged a protest against the police for using deadly force that led to the death of a migrant worker in front of National Police Administration building.

Last Thursday in Xinzhu County a runaway Vietnamese migrant worker surnamed Nguyen stoned the police to resist the arrest while he was being rounded up for attempting to steal a pickup truck. Under attack, the police fired nine shots to stop him. The police said that Nguyen was trying to grasp their weapons and kicked and broke the nose of a fellow vigilante. The suspect was shot six times. He was pronounced dead when the paramedics arrived.

According to a spokesperson for the human rights group, the police did not need to use such firepower to contain Nguyen, for he was then naked in his upper torso and unarmed. They demanded that the NPA conduct a thorough investigation.

Meanwhile, Xinzhu prosecutors said that a probe is now underway.

We believe that the safety of the police officers on site is priority number one. We also support the police to use any legal means necessary to protect themselves while enforcing the law. However, we urge the NPA to restore the truth and nothing but the truth, to the public as soon as possible.  

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Mosquito airport

Don’t get this title wrong. It’s not about an airport for the Mosquito, a famous RAF light bomber of WWII, to land, but an airfield without being used by any plane, which is like a habitat for mosquitos.

Yesterday, Heng-chun Airport celebrated the debut of the landing of its first aircraft after its opening three years ago. Nicknamed “mosquito airport,” Heng-chun Air Terminal is another example of “money-for-nothing” infrastructure built under political pressure, or to be more precise, under ballot pressure.

Numerous such buildings can be found all over Taiwan. There are “mosquito museums,” “mosquito activity centers,” “mosquito libraries,” or “mosquito parking lots,” etc.  All were the promises made by local politicians during their campaigns once they were elected. However, none paid any serious attention to the usefulness of these buildings or how these places should be run once built. It is not news to see a museum without a curator or exhibits, or a library without books and librarians.

Precious taxpayers’ money was wasted in such a way.  

Back to our Heng-chun Airport, there are a couple of ways to use it though. In wartime, of course, it can be a reserve airfield for fighter planes. In peacetime, it can be used as a landing ground for light/ultra-light aircraft, the venue for kite-flying contests, tracks for car races, flight training site of UAVs, and training tracks for heavy motorcycles, etc.

One thing that worries me is that if these places or buildings are put to good use, where can our mosquitos find their habitats?  

Friday, September 01, 2017

Females in the military

On the eve of the 93 Armed Forces Day, at a ceremony held to commemorate this great day, President Tsai Ing-wen in her speech praised, in particular, the contributions made by our female soldiers. Among the examples given were an artillery captain of a rocket company, an F-5 fighter pilot, and a leader of an amphibious recon team. She said that the services rendered by female members of our armed forces constituted a significant part of our national security. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Raid on Myitkyina

The Raid on Myitkyina
Translated from Pan Lei’s Private First Class

That morning, over one hundred sorties of aircraft took off incessantly from two air bases at Moian and Jorhat, India, to bomb the airfield located west of Myitkyina. When the Japanese garrison was taking refuge in the air raid shelters, a large number of transports and towed gliders then landed under cover of fighters. At the same time, the troops of Sino-American Composite Group and the 150th Regiment hiding nearby launched attacked. My friend Shen Bing-hua's mission and I was to repair the vehicle, left by the enemy when they retreated in a hurry, for our use.  

Immediately after getting off the planes, the men of the 89th Regiment of 30th Division were making full efforts to sweep the remaining enemy near the airfield, and the 150th Regiment tried to take the Myitkyina Train Station. Unfortunately, due to poor communication that failed to call for resupply, Japanese took the advantage to counterattack. Out of ammunition, our men had to use their bayonets to break through and retreated to the airfield. As a result, Japanese used this opportunity to regroup and redeploy, reinforcing their fortifications of four defense zones of Myitkyina. Thus saw the setback of our surprise attack, which might achieve victory in one day but instead, take us three months to capture Myitkyina.

The transport that carried us landed after the infantry when Myitkyina airfield was under heavy fire. Japanese garrison hurried out from their air raid shelter to engage. Some of the plane-towed gliders landed in the first wave having their pilots killed in the air; some gliders lay on the treetops, and all combatants on board were machine-gunned down by the Japanese. Their dripping blood dyed the whole tree red. Some gliders went wrong when landing and swirled out of the runway killing all on board. There was no way to tell the foes from friends. When our plane stopped near a slanted transport, jumping out of the aircraft, I felt that we were trapped and yelling killing sound was all around. However, the panic soon subsided, and I felt I almost could not hear anything. Until a dozen of us dug some foxholes underneath the trees up front and hid us in them, I heard “Mule” warn me in a trembling voice, “Stay down, stay down.”

The moment I shrank my head, a shell fell some thirty yards near us. When I woke up, I found my face was covered with sand dust.

From that instant, my hearing recovered. I feared nothing but felt something burning inside me.

After dark, I felt hungry. It seemed too dangerous to stay here for the night, so we moved to the left flank and linked up with guys of the 30th Division. Nevertheless, the situation at that time was at the most disadvantage. The 150th Regiment that took the Myitkyina train station was about to break through and pull back, and reinforcement and supplies were cut off.

The next day, the reinforcement of the 42nd Regiment of 14th Division arrived by air, but the situation was yet to be stable. The perimeters of the airfield we were holding were still under enemy attacks. The situation was only settled when we eliminated the hostile elements of the two flanks and the back of the airfield.

Then we changed positions two times before stationing behind 30th Division Headquarters.

Although “Mule” and I took part in this campaign*, in fact, we did nothing all day but ate, slept, and got shelled.

*The Myitkyina campaign started on May 17, 1944, and ended on August 3, 1944.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Air War over Taiwan 3

September 10, 1945, less than a month after the Japanese surrender, a U.S. military aircraft carrying 20 just-liberated Allied prisoners of war crashed in the mountainous area of Taitung because of the typhoon. None of the twenty POWs and five crew members survived.

The twenty POWs on board were eleven Americans, four Dutchmen, and five Australians then being flown from Okinawa to Manila, where they would be shipped home.

Seventy-two years later, Liu Rui-cheng, a retired Republic of China Air Force general, along with a few zealous civilian friends of his, formed “The Wreckage Expedition” team and climbed on the steep slope of the crash site. They spent three days and two nights using their bare hands and simple tools to dug and find some debris of the plane wreckage including machine gun, engine pipes, and aircraft skin.

This aircraft, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator numbered 44-42052 affiliated to the 886th Squadron of the 494th Bombardment Group, was one of the two B-24s assigned to ship POWs to Manila. Due to the typhoon, the other plane crashed into the sea.

The story did not end here.

Eight days after the crash, the Japanese officials, who still remained in Taitung, mobilized an 8-man rescue team to search for survivors. Nine days later, another rescue team of 89 men was formed and left for the mountain for logistic matters. On September 30, when the two teams were about to meet at the crash site, another typhoon hit Taiwan. On the 3000-meter high mountain areas, the tropical storm took 26 lives, including twelve Amis, seven Japanese military policemen, two local policemen, several aboriginals of Ping-pu, Bunun, and Puyuma tribes, a few Hakkas and Hoklos. According to academic research records, in October 1945, another team was deployed who buried the killed Allied POWs nearby a pond. The bodies of the Allied POWs were all retrieved and reburied in different military cemeteries.

The incident not only took the lives of 25 Allied soldiers but 26 lives of rescue team members. These 26 men might be the pillars of 26 families. General Liu lamented that it was pretty sad that they had never been mentioned after their death.

Some of the wreckage found were placed at the side of the mountain trail leading to the crash site. General Liu hoped that the local government could erect a monument or something to remind people that the incident was a part of the history of Taitung. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

New uniforms for armed forces personnel

Defense minister Feng Shih-kwan announced recently that our military personnel would be issued new uniforms beginning December next year. Controversies over whether it is necessary to spend about 200 million NT dollars immediately arose.

The new uniforms were jackets for winter wear. It was a copy of U.S. Army’s M1944 jacket, also known as “Ike’s Jacket”, for it was the Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower’s favorite.  

Do our men and women in the military need to change their uniforms? We are not opposed to giving them new uniforms to make them look more handsome and smarter. However, we do not think that new jackets are not priority number one.

What our military needs now is to win more trust and respect from the people the army is trying to protect. The armed forces also need more caring eyes from their commander-in-chief, our President Tsai.

Ever since the DPP took power, it has been trying to cut the retired soldiers’ annuity pay. That is not the way to treat these veterans. We understand that the government is facing financial difficulties and the national annuity system has to be reformed, and we support the reform. Nevertheless, it is very dishonest not to honor what had been promised. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Just some maji! No big deal!

Two air force pilots on a training exercise were photographed that, as seen in the canopy, they had brought with them two boxes of maji, a local specialty of Hualien county, often used by visitors as a gift. Many criticized that they should not use the F-16B fighter belonging to the taxpayers as their personal cargo carrier, and the Air Force Headquarters promised to probe into this matter.

Personally, I don’t consider it a big deal. I can live with it as long as those flyboys know what they are doing. I believe that Army soldiers also use their trucks to haul something personal and it won’t be the first time our Navy sailors trying to smuggle some stuff onboard their vessels.

The ubiquitous internet is what made this a fuss. Some netizens just hide behind the screen all day trying to play the role of inquisitors. Their common features are lacking enough knowledge background of the thing they want to criticize and training in objectivity to do the criticism right. Therefore, the remarks they have made are often biased ones.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Salute two heroes

1.     Two weeks ago a gas leak ignited a serious explosion in Taichung City’s Feng-Jia Circle. Wu Hao-bang, 30, a curry restaurant owner, despite his injuries, stayed at the blast site and helped ten customers of the shop next to his who were trapped in the fire to flee. Wu was pronounced dead yesterday due to multiple organ failures.

2.     An owner of a soybean sauce factory in Yunglin county had been keeping his words to pay the retirees monthly pension for over twenty years until the recipients told him to stop because they had had enough.

The owner, who inherited the factory from his father, was troubled because his hand-made soy bean sauce was beaten hard by other soy bean sauce made using chemical methods. Despite the fact that his factory was losing money, he could not bear to see old workers leave the job without labor pension. For he was not able to pay the retirees in full, he promised those senior workers that he would pay them by installment.

Comparing with President Tsai who is trying to strip of retired government officials their annuity, this factory owner is more trustworthy. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Who should do what?

“Attending the commission ceremony of Communications Electronics and Information Command, I witnessed captains holding teapots and majors pouring coffee. I also saw senior officers posing as photographers. Where are non-commissioned officers? What are master sergeants for? What’s the job description of the newly created NCO supervisor? Please delineate and clarify it.” Signed “Big Bird”, 16:15, June 30, 2017.

The above was a translation from a note written by the defense minister Feng Shi-Kuan. Why is a memo note that was supposed to be passed down to his subordinates in the office now circulating on the net? In addition to the problem of who should hold the teapot and serve coffee and who should be the camera man, is there anything wrong with the Ministry of Defense’s internal security? What if it was a note about some classified information concerning our national defense?

 "Was ‘Big Bird,’ the nickname of Mr. Feng, a former air force pilot, showing off too much? " questioned Lee Tian-Duo, a retired colonel.

The MOD confirmed that this note was indeed written by Feng who meant to have all armed forces branches review job descriptions and clarify that of NCOs. As to the leaking of this note, which made Feng very unhappy, the MOD said that internal mechanism had already been activated to probe into it.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The scene looks familiar

During the Cold War era, former Soviet Union periodically sent her Tu-95 bombers (NATO codenamed Bear) trying to penetrate NATO air defense, and the US would immediately scramble fighters to “escort” those bombers. For fifty years, both sides never fired a shot.

Our Ministry of Defense released above photo at noon today. It shows our Ching-kuo fighter intercepting a PLAAF Hong-6 bomber over the Taiwan Strait. The MOD rarely publicized such photo probably out of consideration not to call too much public attention. Our fighters were there to “escort” Chinese bombers because they were closing in our air defense identification zone. As long as they are flying over international waters, our air crew can’t do anything but monitor their movement.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

“An la! An la!”

Yesterday a massive explosion occurred in Taichung’s most popular and crowded Fengjia night market, resulting in one dead, two critical and thirteen more injured. According to Taichung firefighter’s investigation, it was the leaking gas cylinder of a curry restaurant that led to the explosion. What ignited the gas? It was a rookie worker trying to sweep away the gas of a leaking tank by turning on an electric fan.

This morning a cement truck with failed brake going downhill on Yangmingshan’s Yude Road hit and smashed hit and smashed thirteen vehicles and nine motorcycles killing four and injuring nine.

A gas worker, even a green one, should at least acquire such common sense that no electric appliances be switched on when a leakage is suspected. This is called SOP.

A professional driver should check the brake of his vehicle before taking off. This is called SOP.

They knew but cared less to follow it. This is how the accident happens.

I hate very much some Taiwanese workers often replying “An la! An la!”(meaning “It is safe. Don’t worry,” in Taiwanese) when they are reminded to follow certain steps regulated by the SOP, but in fact, they do not pay much attention to it.

Accidents can be avoided only through strict compliance with SOP.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

“Always keep in mind that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder!”

“Always keep in mind that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder” has been a sarcastic remark made by the G.I.’s about the quality of their weapons. These words were also applicable to say about the quality of vehicles used by Taiwan military.

Yesterday New Taipei City prosecutors along with investigators closed the net on a ring of Army NCOs and suppliers who were involved in the procurement scam of spare parts for military vehicles. Twenty of them were brought back for further probe.

Camp Yuelung of Army Logistic Command, located in Yingge, is the biggest military vehicle repair and maintenance base in northern Taiwan. There the NCOs in charge were suspected to have received kickbacks from the bidders and use substandard parts made in China. Also, the suspects stole valuable parts in stock and sold them for cash and then use inferior China-made parts as replacements.

Imagine if war breaks out what would happen to the soldiers in the Humvees or other tactical vehicles equipped with low-quality parts? 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Annuity reform hurts police and military academies enrollment

For years, entering army and police schools were seen by many with challenging family social-economic status as a turning point to improve their household economy. When they graduate, a stable job and guaranteed retirement pension are the least they should be worried. Not anymore now. The DPP’s annuity reform, which defied the convention that no new laws should be practiced retroactively, has ignited not only the fury of many government retirees but lowered the will of many men and women to enter police or military academies to become future members of the police force or the military.

This year there were 2000 men and women fewer than last year to enter Taiwan Police College. The prestigious ROC Military Academy suffered a 50% enrollment drop resulting in calls to open multiple channels for the young to become officers.

I believe that, if we don’t do something about pension reform, the government is going to go bankrupt. That mistake was made over half a century ago for lacking actuarial calculations. However, any reforms should not harm the pensioners now. It is only fair to apply to those who start receiving retirement pay when the new law takes effect.