Friday, September 18, 2009

Andrew Yang Appointed as Taiwan's Deputy Minister of Defense

Taipei Times yesterday covered the appointment of Dr. Andrew Yang (楊念祖) to serve as Deputy Minister of Defense. In this position, Andrew will be responsible to newly appointed Minister of Defense Kao Hua-chu for defense policy and execution. He replaces Chang Liang-jen (張良任), who had been in the position since September 2008.

The Taipei Times report quoted a former military official saying Andrew “was unlikely to last long, as he — like Chang — has no military background.” To the contrary, Andrew Yang is one of Taiwan's foremost authorities on PRC military affairs, and has the strategic perspective that is needed within the Ministry of National Defense (MND). Since the establishment of this second-most senior position within MND in 2000, all appointees have been civilian. Peter Chen (Chen Pi-chao; 陳必) was the first, and was followed by Kang Ning-hsiang (康寧), Lin Chong-pin (林中), Michael Tsai (蔡明), and Ko Chen-heng (柯承).

Andrew served as Secretary General of the Chinese Council for Advanced Policy Studies (CAPS), a Taipei-based think tank that has focused on security and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) studies for more than a decade. In this position, Andrew has earned the respect and admiration from PLA watchers on both sides of the political spectrum in Washington D.C. In addition to being a frequent commentator in local and U.S. media, including Defense News, Andrew has been teaching at the Sun Yat-Sen University in Kaohsiung over the last several years.

His links in Washington are extensive. In addition to a long standing relationship with RAND and its alumni, Carnegie Endowment, and National Defense University, Andrew has been an active member of the Project 2049 Institute International Advisory Council. He was last in Washington D.C. in July 2009 for a conference the “China Faces the Future” conference co-hosted by the Brookings Institution and National Chengchi University’s Institute Of International Relations

Issues that Andrew most likely will be facing:

-- Force modernization in a resource-constrained environment;

-- Transition toward an all-volunteer force;

-- Integration of natural disaster warning, response, and recovery into defense strategy;

-- Cross-Strait confidence building measures;

-- Civil-military relations and inter-service rivalry;

-- U.S.-Taiwan defense relations.

He has a difficult job ahead of him, but will do very well.

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