Friday, August 22, 2008

Defense Cuts

Remember Ma Ying-jeou's promise to raise defense spending to 3% of GDP? Well, it's hanging in the air...

The Executive Yuan approved the 2009 budget statement yesterday, with the budget for national defense the only one to suffer cuts.

The brief version of the budget statement said national defense spending would be NT$10.4 billion (US$331 million) lower than the amount earmarked for this year.

“This is because we are still negotiating the arms procurement deal [with the US],” Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) Minister Shih Su-mei (石素梅) said without elaborating.

Shih would not say whether she was referring to the US$11 billion arms package or a plan to purchase 66 F 16C/D fighters at an estimated cost of US$5 billion.

“We write the budget to reflect reality, but for confidentiality reasons I cannot provide details,” she said.

The debate is about more than the weapons procurement. The always reliable Wendell Minnick reported in Defense News the other day on the debate over whether Taiwan should have offensive weapons that is ongoing within the Ma Administration:

The principal debate is over the so-called offshore engagement strategy that would take the fight to the enemy. It would employ limited offensive missions, including F-16 airstrikes, against China during an invasion and would develop offensive missile systems like the Hsiung Feng 2E cruise missile and short-to-medium-range ballistic missiles.

During the recent election, Ma Ying-jeou, now president, promised “no unification, no independence and no use of force.” “No use of force” is interpreted as no offensive operations against mainland China. In line with Ma’s “Hard ROC” defense policy, the new defense strategy is expected to emphasize surviving a sudden attack by improving air defenses, strengthening bunkers and aircraft shelters, improving firewalls for command-and-control hubs, and upgrading land warfare rapid response capabilities.

But the debate is ongoing, and the Ma administration is not expected to make a public announcement until February, when the Quadrennial Defense Review is released.

“Now we are in a period of debate and inspiration, especially in the next two months,” one Taiwan defense specialist here said. “How the ‘Hard ROC’ concept would be ‘authoritatively’ translated into programs, budgets, force structures and investments remain to be seen.”

Ma has promised a defense budget increase of 3 percent of gross domestic product. The administration has been pushing Washington to release arms notifications to Congress for the sale of $11 billion in U.S. weapons to Taiwan — eight submarines, 30 AH-64D Apache attack and 60 UH60 Black Hawk utility helicopters, and six Patriot Advanced Capability-3 air defense missile batteries.

However, Ma might reject subs and sub-launched Harpoon missiles in line with new strategies. The proposed design phase for the sub program is estimated at $360 million, and those funds could go into other defense projects that would produce more immediate results.

Su Chi, new secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC) here, has publicly opposed the procurement of subs. In a January 2006 opinion piece on soft power and defense published in the Chinese-language United Daily News, Su said the submarine delivery would take 10 years and the money could be better spent elsewhere.

Buying Goodwill? There are fears China could attack should the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) retake the presidency in 2012.

The real motivation for the new strategy, according to Michael Pillsbury, a Pentagon consultant on China’s military, is to placate China in the hopes of getting concessions.

Hard ROC? Or is it that Ma Ying-jeou simply can't bear to hurt Zion, the source of all that is good in the world, China. You make the call... but in warfare, it is difficult to win if you can't carry the fight to the enemy. It may be that the Ma Administration is cutting the defense budget to put pressure on the US -- or because they want to use US recalcitrance as an excuse to cut the defense budget. Ma needs the $$ for his ambitious economic stimulus programs he needs to buy local support for the next election....

I'm curious to see whether the Give up Taiwan! crowd in the US is going to bash the Ma Administration for going back on its defense promises. Note the stunning silence from that crowd since everyone realized that the Bush Administration has had an arms freeze on during most of the period they were bashing Taiwan for not defending itself. Doubt we'll get any explanations, acknowledgments, or apologies.

On the plus side, as far as the US is concerned, the Dem platform put in some positive language about Taiwan, including a reference to the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the wishes of the people of Taiwan. Very promising! The first draft did not contain such language and Taiwan's people in the US apparently lobbied hard to get it in. One of the key Obama advisors on Taiwan is Richard Bush, longtime Taiwan specialist for the US government and former AIT head.

Finally, gratis, this arms package timeline someone involved Taiwan issues in the US emailed me:


List of weapons & systems:

- AH-64D Apache attack helicopters
- Patriot PAC-3 fire units plus PAC-3 missiles
- UH-60 utility helicopters
- Javelin anti-armor missiles
- Submarine-launched Harpoon anti-ship missiles
- E-2T Hawkeye upgrade
- Spare parts package
- Submarine design

There's also the issue of F-16C/D fighters that are awaiting release of P&A data.

[these dates are approximate]

1972. Release of two Guppy submarines. Initial requests, first submitted in 1969, refused.

1979. End of US-ROC Mutual Defense Treaty. Temporary freeze on release of US defense systems.

1982. First US-Taiwan Arms Sales Talks. Face-to-face discussions between Taiwan MND and USG, with first meeting being when MND brings over list of requested military hardware and then second meeting three-four months later to hear decision. Reason for face-to-face discussions is to make sure Taiwan's requests don't get blown off.

Same year was US-China arms sales communique. Implementation of the "bucket," which was the system used to determine value of arms sales to ensure amount was less and less each year.

1984/85. First Taiwan requests for Patriot, F-16s, Harpoons, etc in arms sales talks forum. Refusals leads to start of indigenous programs -Tienkung, IDF, PFG-2, etc, all with US industry assistance.

Sept 1992. Approval of F-16 A/B MLU. US position was that aircraft would have only air/air capability (ie., presumption of denial of air-ground munitions with exception of dumb bombs). Approval was outside normal arms sales talks channels.

1993. Approval of Patriot PAC-2

1994. First request for new submarines. Refused each year in arms sales talks until 2001.

1995-1996. Chinese missile tests. Start of Taiwan interest in missile defense (PAC-3, Aegis, early warning radar, and satellite early warning)

1997. Deployment or delivery of F-16s, Patriot, IDF, PFG-2.

Approval of release of air-launched Harpoons. Big deal since it marked shift in US F-16 policy (gave them air-surface capability).

Dec 97. Start of annual "Monterey Talks" - new forum for strategic military dialogue with focus on non-hardware issues.

1998. Softening of USG position regarding submarines. First request for missile defense long range early warning radar. Maverick missiles approved. Start of major debates on Taiwan missile defense - Chinese threats of war if Taiwan gets PAC-3, Aegis, and other missile defense systems.

1999. Missile defense assessment; and release of TMD Report to Congress. Approval of Link-16, AMRAAM, and long range radar in arms sales talks.

2000. Two naval assessments completed. US military validation of requirement for submarines, Aegis, and other systems. Recommendation to procure Kidds as intermediate step to Aegis. "Bucket" dropped.

December 2000 pre-arms sales talks request list of more than 20 items. Includes submarines, P-3s, Aegis, Apaches, minesweeping helis, HARM, JDAM, AAV-7s, sub-launched Harpoons, and briefing on PAC-3.

April 2001. Approval of subs, minesweeping helis, AAV-7s, sub-launched Harpoons, P-3s, and also full release of PAC-3 (only briefing requested - not release of missile). Aegis decision deferred - but, in effect was a "soft approval." Subs intended to be a domestic Taiwan program with US industrial assistance. Apache release decision deferred until Army assessment. HARM/JDAM turned down.

In addition, USG cancellation of annual arms sales talks. In its place, Taiwan would submit letters of request for new systems. Taiwan side worried that requests would not be taken seriously if no face-to-face meetings involved. Assurances given that requests would be answered in writing within 60 days.

Sept 2001. Army ground force assessment. Recommendation to release Apaches that were deferred earlier.

2001. First Taiwan negative GDP growth in history. Request for loans with low interest rates for arms procurement. Turned down.

2002. First LORs submitted under new system for systems previously deferred. Included Apaches and AH-1Zs (competing attack helis, Aegis, etc). In late 2002, cost estimate for subs - $11.7 billion is a shock. Apache LOR approved. Aegis request blown off.

2003. Missile defense talks in Spring - US pressed PAC-3. In June, LOR for PAC-3 submitted. Estimate of $3.4 billion. Kidds approved by LY.

Enactment of National Defense Reorganization Act that was first introduced in 2000 - major turmoil in MND, including shifts in staff functions.

Feb 2003. Start of USG pressure campaign to raise defense budget and accelerate passage of budgets for specific programs, with emphasis on PAC-3 and P-3s.

May 2003. First notification to US of plans for special budget amounting to $15 billion. Includes PAC-3, P-3s, and subs. Budgeting process starts.

2004. Special budget for PAC-3, P-3s, and subs submitted to LY in Summer.
2005. Initial studies on future fighter requirements, including F-16s, F-15s, JSF. Special budget debates continue.

2006. Initial LOR submitted for F-16C/Ds. Not acknowledged (fears of being blown off realized) - US position was that LOR never submitted. P-3s spun off of special budget and submitted to LY in Sept.

Sub program divided into two phases - Phase 1 for design and Phase 2 for construction.

2007. Impasse on special budget resolved. P-3 budget approved by LY. Patriot ground system upgrade budget approved by LY. LOR submitted for utility helicopters. Staffs work to process budgets for PAC-3s and six new ground systems, Apache, and submarine Phase 1.

LOR submitted for UH-60 utility helicopters in wake of UH-1 crash.

Sale of P-3s notified to Congress - LOA signed by December.

2008. Javits Report submitted to Congress by March. Javits report needed before Congressional notifications (CNs) can be sent. With Javits completed, DoD sends paperwork for notifications to State in March.

By April, SecState decision made to hold notifications. No clear DoD opposition to State decision. First indications of a problem.

In May, probable POTUS-level decision to freeze notifications.

In June, first media reporting of problem.

[if notifications on the fighters are sent in Sept, still enough time to process all the paperwork]



NONE said...


Thanks for posting the chronology of the continuing arms debacle. I think when you look at it in perspective, and in the light of China's recent military developments (another post for comparison?), it is clear the KMT under Ma is not dedicated to building a strong, capable Taiwanese military.

Anonymous said...

And to think... at one point in the mid 1960's, the KMT had allocated 85% of the budget (15% GDP) to "defense". Talk about thieves stealing money from the people.

Anonymous said...

I will take the liberty to project future developments:

Sep 08 - National Unification Council re-established.

Oct 09 - Approval of 23 million tubes of KmtYJelly for final butt reaming.

Nov 08 - US financial system collapses, Taiwan and China banks both lose billions on worthless GSE holdings. Export market evaporates.

Dec 08 - LienChan gives keys to the fort to CCP (in the form of a electronic access card from son Shaun).

Jan 09 - Michael Turton publishes Formosa Betrayed II and describes how the CCP disassembles the judicial and political systems in the 23rd province.

Jan 09 - Endangered animal exchange - Panda's come to Taiwan and TI'ers go to China's Laogais (re-education camps)

PS. Did anyone notice the camaraderie of Wu, Soong and the CCP at the Olympics? I have zero faith in the KMT defending Taiwan. I don't think they want to buy weapons. Perhaps they've already figured out other ways to scam kickbacks such as bringing in casinos, creating phony business councils (wolfie/kissinger), use defense funds to create a SWF to purchase overseas assets, etc.