Defense Ministry told to report to lawmakers on drug find

Taipei--The Ministry of National Defense (MND) has been told to deliver a report to lawmakers on Taiwan's military policy and a recent incident in which drugs were found at an air base in Taichung earlier this week, a lawmaker on the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee said Thursday.

Personnel at Ching Chuan Kang air base in Taichung, central Taiwan, are being urine-tested after dozens of packages of drugs were discovered there Monday. The case has since been handed over to prosecutors for further investigation.

Taichung prosecutors said they found 51 small packages of white powder that was identified as amphetamine in an initial test.

There are about 3,000 military personnel at the air base and 87.1 percent of them had been tested as of Thursday morning, the Air Force said. Among those who had completed the test, 20 servicemen tested positive in initial testing, but their samples are undergoing further tests to determine whether they had taken drugs, it said.

Wang Ting-yu (???), co-chair of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, claimed that if soldiers are drug addicts, they are likely to be controlled by someone outside the military and could leak confidential information, posing a national security threat.

He expressed hope that the Defense Ministry will give a report on the issue during a legislative committee hearing scheduled for next week.

During the hearing, the ministry will also need to present its latest Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) to the Legislature for approval, Wang said.

Under the National Defense Act, the ministry is required to submit a QDR outlining military policy, combat readiness and armament status to the Legislature within 10 months of a presidential inauguration.

Given that President Tsai Ing-wen (???) took office May 20, Wang said, the new administration will have to complete the QDR by March 19 and the Legislature will have to complete its review on the QDR by then.

Meanwhile, Wang said he is planning to organize a trip by the committee members to Luke Air Force Base in the United States, where Taiwanese jet pilots receive training on the F-16 fighter jet.

The trip will help the lawmakers to learn more about the training for Taiwanese pilots there and about a new contract with the U.S. to continue the military program.

Taiwan is undergoing a retrofit program for its F-16 fleet and has two F-16s posted at U.S. Air Force Base in Arizona for flight training, Wang said.

He also noted that Taiwan will need to move its training to another air base, in response to a local media report that the Luke Air Force Base will soon cease training with F-16s and shift to another type of aircraft.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel