Taiwan looks at tunnel bunker as emergency wartime military command centre


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Taiwan’s military is considering setting up a backup joint operation command centre if its Hengshan facility is destroyed by the People’s Liberation Army in a cross-strait war.

The 12.9km (8-mile) Hsuehshan Tunnel on Freeway No 5 in northeastern Taiwan has been rated by the island’s military as an ideal site for an alternative command centre if the Hengshan Military Command Centre in Taipei is destroyed in a PLA strike, Taiwanese news media reported on Tuesday.

The tunnel, which was bored through the Hsuehshan (meaning Snow Mountain) Range, is the longest in Taiwan and connects Taipei through New Taipei to Yilan county.

Covered by the mountain range and with sound ventilation systems – including vertical ventilation shafts as deep as 512 metres (1,680 feet) – as well as a large inner space and multiple cross connections, the tunnel could resist bombardments, house large military facilities and shelter people.

“In view of the Ukraine war, the military has re-evaluated the sustainability of various of its underground operation command centres in the event of a first strike by the enemy,” the United Daily News in Taipei said.

With the success of integrating optic-fibre and other communication systems in recent years, the military decided to work with the freeway bureau to set up another joint operation command centre at Hsuehshan Tunnel, the newspaper said.

It said the military’s communication and information units had already started installing facilities in the tunnel and that during the annual Han Kuang exercises this year, the military would test the effectiveness of the Hsuehshan centre in delivering orders to troops in the drills.

Taiwan defence ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang was reluctant to deny or confirm the media reports. He said that while assessing potential enemy threats and combat operation needs, the military would look at all possibilities, including military facilities on the island.

The Hengshan facility in the capital Taipei is the highest level military command centre in Taiwan in peace and wartime.

Wang Ting-yu, a legislator of the ruling independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, said that as in the Gulf War in the early 1990s and the recent Russia-Ukraine war, protecting joint operation command centres was the first priority.

“Therefore, it is important for the military to raise the survivability and sustainability of the Hengshan centre, and this is a very important subject in various of our military drills,” he said, adding it was also necessary for the military to prepare other backup centres, which should be among a military’s preparations for war.

Wang’s DPP colleague Chiu Chi-wei said it was reasonable for the military to establish a backup centre, but the defence ministry should refrain from leaking information about it because it would affect the island’s security in a conflict.

 

On March 31, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said the island’s military had set up a working group to study the tactics of the war in Ukraine, including how the country had been able to hold out against Russia, and discussed them with the United States.

Topics covered included Russia’s poor military performance and Ukraine’s resistance, he said, adding that the military had also discussed them with countries “that have regular contacts with Taiwan”.

Taiwan’s team on Ukraine included academics from the National Defence University, he said.

Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province awaiting eventual union, by force if necessary.

Source: South China Morning Post

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