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Research Report

Deter, Defend, Repel, and Partner: A Defense Strategy for Taiwan

Dan Blumenthal
Michael Mazza
Gary J. Schmitt
Randall Schriver
Mark Stokes
Copyright Date: Jul. 1, 2009
Pages: 28
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    Taiwan is a great success story. It is a prosperous, thriving democracy living at peace—and it wants to remain at peace. A recent poll shows that more than 90 percent of Taiwanese support maintaining the “status quo,” meaning principally that an overwhelming majority of the island’s citizens wants to avoid a conflict with the mainland if at all possible while retaining their de facto sovereignty.¹

    But in order to maintain that peace, Taipei will have to build a military strong enough to make the use of force against Taiwan unlikely. The Republic of China (ROC) faces one of the...

  2. (pp. 3-7)

    The PRC poses a wide range of military, economic, and political challenges to the ROC. Beijing remains committed to unifying Taiwan with the mainland. The ROC remains quite isolated internationally and faces a growing imbalance in the military forces across the Strait. In addition, there are a number of demographic, economic, and social trends both on the mainland and in Taiwan that could well affect the security situation in the Strait. Taiwan’s defense establishment may not have a direct role to play in all of these domains, but an understanding of the full spectrum of the challenges posed by the...

  3. (pp. 8-13)

    Many of Taiwan’s forces are, in fact, already oriented toward achieving the above objectives. It is important, however, that all forces are designed to carry out the missions described so that they can efficiently and effectively confront the many security challenges that Taiwan faces, and so that the mainland is unable to identify and exploit holes in Taiwan’s defense preparations.

    Moreover, these suggested capabilities may not, in and of themselves, be sufficient for the ROC to successfully carry out its defense strategy. Readiness and personnel management also are critical. The men and women of the ROC should be trained to...

  4. (pp. 14-16)

    In a time of crisis, the ROC defense establishment should be able to partner with domestic civil responders and ad hoc coalitions alike. The ability to partner with domestic law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other emergency personnel is important in a number of scenarios. In the case of a natural disaster, civil responders and military units must be able to coordinate their search and rescue efforts. Compatible communications are especially important. The goal is to allow civil responders and the military to cooperate effectively in traditionally nonmilitary situations.

    During a time of war, it could be equally important for the...

  5. (pp. 17-18)

    In short, the ROC should show that it can fight on its own across a broad spectrum of conflict, while also preparing to operate in ad hoc coalitions. In order to accomplish these goals, it should build a force consistent with the Four Missions (deter, defend, repel, and partner) listed in chapter 1. Taiwan can deter the PRC by demonstrating its ability to deny the PLA its goals. It should be able to defend against all forms of coercion. The ROC should have the capacity to repel an invading force and, if that succeeds, a foreign occupation. And the ROC...