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. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Who done it?

A Tien Chien II, or Sky Sword II, air-to-air radar-guided missile, launched from an F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo fighter, misfired and dropped directly into the sea like a torpedo, reported exclusively by Apple News.

Tien Chien II missiles were specifically designed by National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology with American help to be used by Ching-Kuo fighters, or IDF, indigenous defense fighters, as a defense weapon.

Air Force has formed an ad hoc team to probe into this firing failure matter. The Air Force security unit would also investigate why the local media was able to get the video footage of the missile failed to fire. As such film could only be taken by the photographer on the wing plane, it was commonly treated with strict confidentiality.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Consumers should always be sure of the payment terms before they decide to buy any products or services.

An air force major surnamed Chen and other six subordinates were given disciplinary punishment for misconduct. According to the Air Force Headquarters, Chen and other eighteen colleagues and their dependents applied for military transport and flew to Penghu in the name of rest and recuperation. There, Major Chen and his men went to a bar with Vietnamese barmaids ready to provide sex services. There, they were involved in a pay dispute for the alleged sex trade.

Consumers should always be sure of the payment terms before they decide to buy any products or services. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Air War over Taiwan 2

                        Kawanishi H6N Type 97 patrol flying boats (code-named “Mavis”)

August 1941 as the Allies imposed oil embargo to Japan, the Pacific War was soon to erupt, and the Japanese were preparing intensively in Taiwan for the invasion of the Philippines and British Malay Peninsula aiming to snatch their rich strategic resources. The long-range reconnaissance aircraft, Kawanishi H6N Type 97 patrol flying boats (code-named “Mavis”), of the 21st Squadron were deployed in Tung-Kang, Ping-tung, Taiwan. These aircraft were constantly dispatched to fly sea-level low to penetrate the air space of the Philippines, Indo-China, and the Dutch East India, over South China Sea. This secret long-range flight behind enemy lines, called Recon Operation M, was a prelude to the landing operations of the Philippines and Malaya.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Air War over Taiwan 1

Near the end of World War II, the American began launching perhaps the most extensive bombing operations in the entire Pacific theater to the island of Taiwan, then a Japanese colony since 1895. The U.S. objective was to eliminate the threat from the land-based special attack units, or the Kamikaze, and to destroy the logistic support to Japanese war efforts as its naval forces were preparing for the landing of Okinawa and the Japanese mainland. After the war, many regarded that such indiscriminate air attacks targeted not only the military but civilian population were more revengeful than militaristic.

Early in 1945, the closest air strike units to Taiwan were American bombers deployed in mainland China: the B-29 strategic bombers under the XX Bomber Command in Chengdu, Szechuan and General Claire L. Chennault’s 14th Air Force in Kunming, Yunnan. However, only limited attacks could be launched to Taiwan because of the combat range of their aircraft. After the US had occupied the Philippines, the job of bombing Taiwan fell on the shoulder of the Fifth Air Force stationing there. The Fifth Air Force then had 140 heavy bombers, 200 light bombers, 150 fighters and 60 reconnaissance planes, with combat radius able to cover the entire island of Taiwan.

At the time when the US was about to bomb Taiwan, the once invincible Imperial Japanese Army and Navy were powerless to drive away incoming American air armada. The few Zero fighters left were obsolete. Without experienced pilots and enough fuel, these aircraft were not expected to produce any significant effect in air defense except turning them into suicide planes. Although there were a few Nakajima J1N1 Gekko (“Moonlight”) two-engine night fighters that might pose some threat to US bombers, they were soon wiped out. By the end of April 1945, Japan could only rely on ground anti-aircraft forces to defend Taiwan. Some army AAA batteries that were shipped in from Japan and as many as 5,000 heavy machine guns were deployed at about 1,600 vital facilities like fuel depots, sugar plants, train stations, bridges, and fortifications, etc. From January to August 1945 the US sustained a ratio of 3% of combat loss raiding Taiwan. Ground fire downed over 200 US planes, proof that the Japanese ground air defense power still posed a considerable psychological threat to low-flying US air crew on bombing or strafing missions.
It was known that Taiwan did not produce oil. However, the 49 sugar plants in Taiwan could produce ethanol as substitute aircraft fuel by refining residual product of sugar canes. In WWII Taiwan’s such refining technique was well known internationally. Therefore, these sugar plants, like the Sixth Fuel Plant of the Imperial Navy located at Zuoying, Kaohsiung, were the primary targets of US attacks. Besides refineries, oil storage facilities were also targeted. By early 1945, after the US Army Fifth Air Force had successfully blocked Taiwan’s littoral shipping, the Americans turned to attack Taiwan’s railway and road transportation systems. Bridges, tunnels, train stations, marshaling yards, repair facilities and all sorts of vehicles, even the buses on the road ferrying civilians were their opportunity targets. Three months before the Japanese surrender, Americans indiscriminately bombed all military and non-military targets which included residential areas thus creating huge losses of properties and lives.

In total, the air raids conducted by the Fifth Air Force destroyed 46,000 houses and left 277,000 Taiwanese homeless. Over 90% of Taiwan’s industrial production facilities was destroyed along with almost all power generating plants. Other infrastructures like bridges, railroads, and ordinary highways were seriously damaged.

Among all the raids, what was the most controversial was the one of May 31, 1945, in the city of Taipei, the capital of Japanese colonial government. On that particular day, 117 B-24s dropped 3,800 bombs over Taipei destroying many buildings and killing over 3,000 citizens. After the war, some local historians considered such bombing atrocious and creating only terror to the civilian population.

In war times, extreme measures must be taken to annihilate the enemy’s physical strength and to resolve further conflicts if possible. However, Americans’ indiscriminate bombings added only more pain to the Taiwanese long-suffering Japanese militarism and colonization.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Cu Ti Yan

In the late second century, which was the Eastern Han period, Liu Biao, was the military governor of Jingzhou, in now Hubei province. His elder son by his first wife, Liu Qi, was worried that his stepmother, also the mother of his stepbrother, hated him and conspired against him for fear that he might take over his father’s power after his death. Liu Qi turned to Zhuge Liang, the military advisor to his uncle Liu Bei for help. Zhuge Liang at first was reluctant to openly help Liu Qi because he considered it Liu Biao’s domestic affairs.

One day Liu Qi invited Zhuge Liang to his house for a visit. He told Zhuge Liang that he had some rare book collections in his private library on the second floor and he would very much want Zhuge Liang to go up there and take a look. After both of them were on the second floor, Liu Qi had his servants remove the ladder and said to Zhuge Liang, “Now there is no one here but you and I. Please tell me what to do to cope with my stepmother’s conspiracy.” Zhuge Liang then told Liu Qi to go asking his father to let him be the garrison commander of a remote outpost so that he would stay away from the trouble his stepmother might get him involved.

Cu Ti Yan (去梯言), literally the words after the removal of the ladder, becomes the synonym for a secret or private matter told to someone under a condition of trust. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Where have all the young boys and girls gone?

It was reported that our Ministry of Defense is now planning to produce a soap opera series by copying Descendants of the Sun, a 2016 South Korean TV series, to promote the image of our military. By so doing, the MOD hopes to reach its target of recruiting enough volunteers to serve so that the shortage of manpower could be resolved.

How serious is the manpower problem in our armed forces?

According to a recent news report, a tank battalion of Army’s Lanyang Command should have at least 12 subalterns to run its 12 tank platoons. Due to a shortage of officers of junior ranks, all platoons are now run by senior sergeants.

90 out of the 300 companies of the Sixth Army lack of political warfare officers.

Why can’t the military find enough young officers to fill in these vacancies?

One of the reasons is that senior enlistees do not want to be promoted as non-commissioned officers for they are reluctant to shoulder more responsibilities taking charge of enlistees. And NCOs do not want to be officers for the same reason.

I do not think that making a TV series would make more men and women want to join the army. I do, however, believe that this is a good time for the authorities to consider downsizing our armed forces. Let’s be realistic. How are we going to fight the People’s Liberation Army if they launch a full-scale attack on this island? At present, a symbolic military force is well enough to guard this island, and the defense budget saved can be better used elsewhere. In the long run, we should consider establishing permanent peace mechanism with mainland China.

Friday, February 10, 2017

An anecdote of late Gen. Chen Shen-ling

A story about Gen. Chen, written by Wang Li-Zhen (王立楨) titled 向美軍嗆聲的陳燊齡將軍(Chen Shen-ling: the general who dares to stand against the U.S. armed forces) on his blog well delineated the strength of character of this veteran pilot.

I would like to summarize the story below to pay my respect to the deceased.

In the early 1970s, not long after Gen. Chen took command of Ching Chuan Kang Air Base, where a U.S. detachment was deployed there to support the war in Vietnam, he received a report. A local employee surnamed Chang was found stealing goods from the G.I. dining hall and held at the headquarters of U.S. military police.

It was not the first time that such incident occurred and none of Chen’s predecessors took seriously about it. However, Gen. Chen thought differently. He thought that it was not right for the Chinese employee to commit theft, but it was more wrong for the U.S. military police to search and detain any Chinese citizen on the soil of the Republic of China.

Gen. Chen immediately ordered his staff to notify Col. Andrew Iosue, then the commander of the 374th Tactical Airlift Wing, to meet him at the MP headquarters.

At the MP office, Gen. Chen asked Col. Iosue if he knew that a Chinese citizen was being held by the US military police. Realizing this was not a simple matter, Col. Iosue first asked the US duty officer to brief him before answering the general’s question.

The duty officer said the manager of the dining hall suspected Chang stole ham and notified the MP to come for a search and a pack of ham was found in Chang’s locker. Chang was put in custody on site, and Chinese base military police were notified to come in to apprehend Chang.

Hearing the report, Col. Iosue felt relieved because Chinese MP was informed and it was only a matter of time to wait for them to come and take Chang away. He then suggested that Gen. Chen have the suspect. 

Gen. Chen interrupted the colonel and asked him on what authority that the US military police had the rights to search a Chinese citizen on the territory of the Republic of China? Chen said the US military police should have notified the Chinese MP to handle this matter instead of searching Chang’s locker first.

Col. Iosue could not answer Chen but ordered the release of Chang.

Upon the release of Chang, Gen.Chen felt that this matter was not yet solved. He thought that the US armed forces should be let known of their positions as a guest at the base, not the host.

Returning to his office, Gen. Chen summoned the Chinese MP commander and ordered him to conduct a thorough check of any U.S. personnel and vehicles in and out of the base main gate from then on. The general also demanded all Chinese employees of the U.S. dining hall guarantee that there would be no shameful theft like this time happened again; otherwise, he would revoke the pass of the Chinese employees.

That evening, a long queue of late returning US personnel from leave was waiting in front of the main gate to be checked by Chinese MPs. Several enlistees were found carrying dopes.

Next morning, Col. Iosue came to the general’s office and asked him, “Gen. Chen, are the base MPs under your command?” Gen. Chen replied seriously, “Colonel, everyone on this base, including you, is under my command.”

In fact, the general and the colonel knew each other well. They often addressed each other on first name basis. That day, the general deliberately addressed the colonel by his rank to remind him that he obey orders from his superior.

The colonel humorously raised his hands posing an act of surrender and said, “Yes sir, General, I fully understand.” Then they shook hands and began to discuss matters concerning the Chinese and American troops. Later they agreed that Chinese MPs had rights to conduct check to any person of the base including the US personnel. However, the US military police were only be allowed to check the US personnel but not any Chinese soldiers or citizens. 

A formal memo was made. Both commanders notified their superiors. Gen. Chen was praised for his handling of this matter. Later, our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and US State Department began dialogues, and the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the US armed forces was terminated. 

Though this diplomatic victory was triggered by Gen. Chen, he was not particularly proud of it because he felt that he only did what he had to do, which was uphold our fundamental national dignity.