The Obama administration is backing away from a 2001 commitment to help Taiwan acquire submarines to defend the island from Chinese attack.
The Pentagon, in particular, is said to oppose the 13-year-old plan to help Taipei buy or build eight diesel electric subs over concerns of disrupting its high-priority military exchange program with China.
The Chinese military cut ties to the Pentagon several times in recent years to protest U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, and agreed to resume exchanges only if the administration adopted China’s concept of “new-type” relations that, for Beijing, includes gradually ending arms sales to Taiwan.
The administration, however, is bound by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to provide defensive arms to Taiwan to prevent a Chinese takeover.
The U.S. military has been pressing Taiwan in recent months to do more to increase its defenses in the face of a large-scale buildup of warships, submarines, missiles and amphibious forces by China’s People’s Liberation Army.
The PLA has deployed more than 1,200 missiles within range of Taiwan that could devastate the island in a surprise attack.
One U.S. official said the administration has agreed to help Taiwan develop small, electric-powered, coastal submarines as a halfway measure, instead of larger submarines.
That option is expected to be the subject of an upcoming report by the administration-aligned think tank Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
Critics of the small-sub plan say the Taiwanese need larger submarines, as well as mini-subs, as a key asymmetric warfare weapon to deter the Chinese — something small submarines alone are unlikely to do.
“Like other navies in the region, Taiwan appears poised to contribute toward U.S. interests in regional security,” said Mark Stokes, a former Pentagon official who worked on China affairs. “Taiwan’s acquisition of new diesel electric submarines would enhance regional stability by providing a clear deterrent to potential [Chinese] force and interruption of sea lines of communication in the East China Sea, South China Sea and elsewhere in the region.”
Mr. Stokes said a submarine fleet offers a credible and effective deterrent to the threat posed by the PLA.
“Active U.S. support for Taiwan’s acquisition of diesel electric submarines, including midget submarines and unmanned underwater vehicles, would demonstrate credibility of American policy commitments,” said Mr. Stokes, now with the Project 2049 Institute.
Added Rick Fisher of the International Assessment and Strategy Center: “Despite its 30-year quest, no one has the guts to sell submarines to Taiwan.”
WOMEN IN COMBAT SETBACK
The Pentagon’s politically correct policy of pushing women into front-line combat positions suffered a setback this week: Three female Marine officers washed out of the Infantry Officer Course.
The Marines, two captains and a second lieutenant, bring to 27 the number of women who have not been able to complete the officer training. They were asked to leave after they could not keep up during two hikes, according to reports in The Christian Science Monitor and Marine Corps Times.
A Marine Corps spokesman had no immediate comment.
The women were dropped from the 13-week course at the Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia, two weeks into the training, but they advanced further than all other women since the physically demanding course was opened to female officers in late 2012. They passed the grueling combat endurance test but were asked to leave after failing to maintain the pace during a long hike carrying a backpack weighing more than 100 pounds.
Only one other female Marine officer has completed the initial endurance portion of the course. That officer was forced to drop out because of a stress fracture in her foot.
Aaron MacLean, a former Marine infantry officer, said pressure is mounting from radical feminist advocacy groups to lower Marine standards so women can pass the grueling training tests.
Lowering standards for women, however, would undermine the value of their achievements and diminish the overall fighting capacity of the Marines, he said.
“Despite the debate on this issue, the maintenance of high standards should be something every Marine should support, as should their friends in the Department of Defense’s leadership and in Congress, not to mention the public,” Mr. MacLean, an editor at The Washington Free Beacon, said in a blog post.
Full article: ‘No one has the guts to sell submarines to Taiwan’ as China pressures Pentagon (Washington Times)