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Integration of elite Marines unit could affect readiness
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-06-03 12:18 PM
A retired military SWAT team member broke the news Monday that the Ministry of National Defense is planning to combine the two existing Secret Squadrons of the Marines into a single unit. The move, to be carried out July 1, is a cost-cutting measure being taken as part of the military’s efforts to streamline its forces, but it is being criticized for its adverse effect on the nation’s armed forces’ ability to respond to outside aggression and as a blow to the morale of the officers and troops of the military SWAT teams.

The source noted that the current mandate of the Marine Corps Secret Squadron includes handling situations ranging from hijackings to sabotage as well as infiltration by special military forces. In addition, the squadrons are also tasked with water rescue missions, such as the extraction of crew and passengers from vessels hijacked on the open sea. Units must be ready to move into action at a moment’s notice in such crises, and if the force is downsized and the number of personnel is not sufficient, it could hamper the unit’s effectiveness as a fighting force.

Military officials have confirmed that the two elite Marine Corps squadrons will be combined into a single squadron by July. A number of squad members will be assigned to other units such as reconnaissance squadrons.

The Marine Corps Secret Squadrons are highly professional units with very strict standards. Only those who meet the requirements are admitted to the force, and any personnel who cannot maintain the standards will be booted out. At present the two squadrons are slightly understaffed, a factor which may have figured into the MND’s decision to shoehorn the Marines into one unit.

Military veterans familiar with the operations of the Secret Squadron say the unit’s ability to handle missions such as marine anti-hijacking or related tasks will depend on the nature and size of the job. Some missions may require coordination with other military units such as the Army’s specially-trained and equipped 99th Brigade.

A number of retired officers including veterans of the Marines presented a petition to the MND last week protesting the paring down of the elite force. They pointed out that cutting the number of units and the number of Marines in each unit, or merging Marine units with other combat units, could leave them unable to carry out duties required for amphibious, rapid reaction forces, counter-terrorism response and disaster prevention and rescue,

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