Thursday, June 22, 2017

Consumers should always be sure of

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 second lieutenant to run its 12 tank platoons. Due to 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, think 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 military budget saved can be better used elsewhere. In the long run, we should consider establishing perpetual 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.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Negligence or ignorance?

Dressing in black tunics and black boots, brandishing swastika flags, and saluting “Sieg Heil”, all were marching in led by a cardboard-made Tiger tank. This was not an annual Nazi party rally in Nuremberg. This happened a few days ago in Hsinchu, Taiwan, in a school-sanctioned parade. The parade was a part of the school day activities held by a private high school.

When photos of this event first appeared on media followed by public criticism, the school authorities, not realizing that things had gone wrong, downplayed it as merely a “demonstration of creativity” and said the students were not showing support for Nazis.

Only until when the representatives of Israel and Germany condemned such open display of the symbols belonging to the murderers of Holocaust, President Tsai’s Office showed grave concerns over this matter, and the Ministry of Education threatened to cut down government subsidies and revoked the “quality school” citation as punishment, the school knew they were in trouble.

Although the school principal and related administrators issued a statement apologizing for their negligence to allow students to do such show and promising to teach students more about Nazi atrocities, it did not help much for the damage made to Taiwan’s global image. Even the breaking news this afternoon about the principal tendering his resignation helped little.

How is it possible that teachers of that high school would allow such ignorant and foolish act to happen? Was there no one in that school who could warn students about the serious consequence?

Before gaining power, the DPP spent a great deal of time and energy arguing about some trivialities of high school history course guideline, which were nothing but the differences of their struggles with the then KMT regime. Did it help to make our students become more enlightened?

It is now the time that the ruling party and educators consider seriously how to teach our students to acquire judgement skills to avoid committing ignorance such as this one. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

What if…

For two days, local print media have covered the 5-day 250-km marching exercise conducted by our 99th and 66th Marine Brigades in Heng-chun Peninsula. Today, on United Daily News a photo showed a big lunchbox full of yummy food including chicken legs and pork chops enjoyed by our marine boys and girls. Certainly I have no objections against those marines being treated well.

Since this is a war game attempting to review the combat readiness of an important branch of our military, I wonder if this scenario is included in this exercise.

What if these marines are encircled and unable to get ammo and food supplies, what would they do?

The scenario did happen in real combat situation. In September 1944, during Operation Market Garden, the men of British First Airborne Division could not get their supply delivered by air from the RAF because their drop zones were overrun by enemies. Among the ten thousand men parachuted in Arnhem, Holland, only two thousand managed to return to their own lines after a week’s fight with Germans. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Yeh Chang-di died at 83

An inconspicuous news story appeared on the Internet yesterday. It was a report of the death of Yeh Chang-di.

Major Yeh Chang-di (1933-2016), a former Republic of China Air Force U-2 pilot, who was shot down by People’s Liberation Army anti-aircraft missile on November 1, 1963 while flying a reconnaissance mission over Jiang-xi province. Bailing out successfully but seriously wounded, Yeh was taken prisoner and held in mainland China for almost 30 years.

In 1982 Yeh and another held pilot were approved to leave China. However, out of propaganda consideration, Taiwan authorities refused to let them come back home.

Fortunately, the CIA intervened and took these two pilots to live in the United States, for it was originally a CIA plan to supply the ROC government in Taiwan with U-2 planes to spy on Communist China during the Cold War era of late 1950s.

It was not until 1990 that Yeh and his compatriot were allowed to return to Taiwan after a series of news coverage on the secret ‘Black Cat Squadron’ of the 60s that caused public attention.

None of the local print media reported his death. Major Yeh was a hero. Even the two sides of the Taiwan Strait were not as belligerent as ever, he still deserved more of our respect. If not for the sacrifice of the major and other brave flyers, we could never enjoy our democracy as we do now. 

Saturday, November 05, 2016

A life-changing decision

Few people note that their whole lives can be decided by a decision made in a day or even in a minute. Now let me share with you a decision I made that had changed my life since. Thirty-six years ago, after I left my first job, I stayed home jobless for three months. Within these three months I went in for a dozen job interviews without getting any offer. Unexpectedly, one day I received two offers. One was from a government office and the other a private trading company. Coincidentally, the reporting date of these two jobs was on the same day. For I could only go for one, after some consideration, I decided to take the trading company job. I worked two and a half year in that company, and during which period, I met my wife now and decided to pursue a master’s degree to become a teacher. I will never find out what my life would become if I took that government job offer on that particular day. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A martyr or a defector?

November 11 1965 a Chinese Communist’s Russian-made IL-28 bomber landed on an air base in Taoyuan , Taiwan. One of the crew, Lt. Lian Bao-sheng, the radio-operator /tail gunner, was said to suffer a fatal head wound and was killed instantly upon landing. However, the other two crew members, the pilot Li Xian-bin and the navigator Li Cai-wang survived and revealed to the Taiwan authorities their wish to defect.

During the Cold War era, the defection was considered by Nationalist Chinese in Taiwan as a great success in their anti-Communist efforts. The two surviving Chinese Communist airmen were branded as ‘morally courageous men’ by the media and a large number of gold bullion was given to them as reward. In a series of propaganda shows that followed, they were made heroes and received cheers from the crowd wherever they went.  

It was not uncommon during the standoff of the two Chinas that the military personnel or civilians had tried to defect to the other side for various reasons. After the death of Chairman Mao, Chiang Kai-shek and his son, the tension across the Taiwan Strait gradually dissolved and both sides reached a tacit agreement not to accept defectors.

What happened to those ‘morally courageous men’? Li Xian-bin was married and later retired from the Taiwan Air Force. Nostalgia brought him back to mainland China. He was arrested upon arrival and put on trial for treason and later died of stomach cancer. Li Cai-wang, who broke both legs during the landing because the pilot failed to properly lower the landing gear, recovered and became naturalized American citizen in 1976. It was he who told the truth that Lt. Lian in fact refused to defect along with the pilot and use his sidearm to commit suicide when they had landed.

September 28 2016 the remains of Lt. Lian was cremated and brought back to the mainland by his family. He was buried in a martyrs’ cemetery.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Deploy military manpower properly

Typhoons are not uncommon to us. We all know that typhoons inevitably bring disastrous damages that need manpower to repair. Where is the manpower? Be it the leader of this country of ordinary citizens, the military seems the only source where help can be obtained.

Are the men and women of our armed forces suitable for fixing the typhoon damages? From the TV news our armed forces are often used to picking up twigs and trunks of fallen trees, collecting broken furniture, and dredging sewers etc. And valuable military hardware such as trucks, armored personnel carrier, and amphibious vehicles are used to transport garbage to the dump site. The military almost takes over all the jobs that have been on the job description list of city or county environmental protection bureaus and should be done by civilian garbage disposal personnel.

Abuse of military manpower is certainly not a good idea when confronting typhoon damage. The military can only be mobilized and deployed whenever and wherever their training is most needed.

For instance, the engineers units can set up pontoon bridges when the original bridges are broken; the helicopters of air cavalry can drop food and supplies to areas where traffic is blocked and civilian choppers are unavailable to do the job or help evacuate victims; the airborne medical units can be sent to where there are no civilian doctors and nurses. The Marines’ amphibious equipment may be used in flooded areas to support the rescue jobs.

We do hope that the power higher up has a correct sense to use our highly trained skillful military personnel at the right time and the right place instead of ordering them to do the job that should be done by local civilian workers.

Friday, September 02, 2016

A revisit to Kinmen

Accompanied by his family, a gray-headed veteran walks tremblingly in a military cemetery trying to find a tombstone engraved with a name he knew long long time ago. Isn’t it the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan? Only this is a real lifetime story instead of a fictitious movie plot.

The smoke of gunpowder has dispersed, but to Lin De-lu, a blind old farmer from Meishan, Jiayi never forgets the 823 Artillery Bombardment of 1958, also called the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, the clash between mainland China and Taiwan over a group of tiny islands called Kinmen, located just off the southeastern coast of mainland China.

September 2, 1958, a date Lin memorizes perpetually. Then 27, and only thirty days to his discharge of compulsory military service, as a private of the 123rd Regiment, 41st Infantry Division, one of the units deployed to defend Kinmen, he was ordered to help fortify a battery. Suddenly a shell exploded nearby. When he woke up, he found himself both eyes blind and left ear deft, and Lt. Fu Kuo-fang, his platoon leader, whom he loved and respected, was killed.

Lin was airlifted back to Taiwan for medical care and discharged. Returning home, Lin farmed hard with the help of his wife to support his family of eight. For fifty-eight year, the image of Lt. Fu has been lingering in his mind. He remembers the time they served together and how the officer from Hunan province of mainland China took good care of him and other Taiwanese conscripts. He hoped that one day he gets to go back to Kinmen to visit his beloved superior officer.

As predestined by fate, Wang Chun-lin, a Chinese professor of National Chung Cheng University who has listened to Lin’s story since she was a kid, planned to write a book about him. She then asked Kinmen Defense Command (KDC) for help when she did a field trip for her book in April this year to locate where Lt. Fu was buried. By the vague pronunciation of the name provided by Lin the military found and told Professor Wang where Lt. Fu was buried. The good professor immediately told Lin about the news.

By the arrangement of KDC, Lin came to Kinmen with his family. Trying very hard to stand up from a wheelchair pushed by his family, Lin, now 85, hunchbacked his body and touched the gravestone of Lt. Fu Kuo-fang murmuring, “Lieutenant, I’m here to see you.”

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Armed forces’ mysterious tribal warriors: the reserve mountain company

Taiwan is a mountainous island with rugged and difficult terrains. In 1982, in the rural areas inhabited by aboriginals, the Army Control District Command established the reserve mountain companies composed of troopers from Taiwan's indigenous peoples. Their mission in the peacetime was to manage mountainous battlefields, stage mountain area mobilization and help enforce mountain area security; during wartime, their job was to use anti-airborne assault, anti-infiltration, and anti-guerrilla warfare measures to defend the mountainous areas to stop enemy forces from entering our rear areas and secure our supply lines.  

This rarely known unit, as now under the jurisdiction of  the Armed Forces Reserve Command, has only one officer on duty in each rural township in peacetime; however, as many as 200 men could be immediately mobilized in times of war. Except the standard-issued rifle, each soldier of this company is also equipped with bow and arrow and machete as their silent weapons; for that, they were nicknamedtribal warriors’ or ‘Rambo warriors.’

It was not the first time for Taiwan’s aboriginal tribal men to be organized as special military units to conduct special warfare. During World War II, the Japanese drafted as many as 4,000 men from several indigenous tribes and deployed them in the Philippines as commandos to raid the US airfields and supply lines. Among which, the Takasago Giyutai(高砂義勇隊) and the Kaoru Airborne Raiding Detachment (薰空挺隊) were well-known. Naturally born mastering of jungle warfare, these fighters gave Americans considerable hard time. Nevertheless, they also suffered heavy casualties. Of the 4,000 men inducted more than 3,000 were killed in action.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Honesty is still the best policy

Several days ago a woman gave birth to a baby on board a China Airlines flight. Through media reports, we read about beautiful flight attendants and earnest fellow passengers all trying hard to help her deliver. What a heartwarming picture, right? Unfortunately the truth behind this touching scene was not so beautiful. The woman was a liar, who had tried to hide the fact of her 36-week pregnancy by wearing loose dress to get aboard and her sole purpose was to have her baby born on the American soil so that the baby could become naturalized US citizen. However, the baby came to this world a bit earlier when and where than her mother had wished. The airliner cabin where she was born is still considered the extension of the territory of the Republic of China, the country of origin which China Airlines was registered, so is the citizenship of this baby. The woman was deported by Homeland Security of the US two days later after the plane had landed in Los Angeles.

Is US citizenship worth of risking the life of your baby?