Pentagon Paper Details Severe Shortfall of Taiwan’s Military
Taiwan is far more vulnerable to attack from China than is generally recognized because its isolated military has fallen behind technologically, according to a highly classified Pentagon report.
The 40-page report details “a host of problems” with the Taiwanese military’s ability to defend against planes, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, said a Clinton administration official familiar with it. It concludes that Taiwan’s military capability has been weakened by the island’s diplomatic isolation, and faults the military for allowing poor security at bases, for tolerating bitter interservice rivalries, and for failing to develop a professional corps of senior enlisted troops to operate its weapons systems.
“There is no other military in the world that experiences the kind of isolation Taiwan’s does,” the administration official said in summarizing the report. “And as warfare has become more complex, it has become more difficult for them to handle these new technologies.”
The Pentagon report comes after a spell of unusually bellicose Chinese rhetoric about the presidential election in Taiwan, which concluded with the victory earlier this month of a pro-independence candidate opposed by Beijing. By validating reports of Taiwan’s military inadequacy, the Pentagon view could sway a decision by the administration, which is wrestling with the nettlesome question of whether to sell four sophisticated Aegis destroyers and other advanced military gear to Taiwan.
The administration is expected to make a decision by the end of April, when a Taiwanese delegation is to arrive here. A senior Chinese official warned this month that a U.S. transfer of high-tech military equipment to Taiwan would be considered a hostile act and would be “the last straw” in U.S.-Chinese relations.