No significant change in US ties amid Apache scandal: AIT


CNA

TAIPEI–The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said Tuesday that there has been no significant change in ties between Taiwan and the United States as a result of a security breach in which civilians at an army base in Taiwan were able to board and take pictures of an AH-64E Apache, the most advanced model in the U.S.-made attack helicopter series.

It is a matter for Taiwan to handle, said Mark Zimmer, spokesman for the AIT, the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan.

��We’re watching the investigation (being conducted by Taiwan),�� he told CNA, adding that there had been no significant change in the relations between Taiwan and the U.S. Incident May Affect

Taiwan-U.S. Ties: Mao Zimmer’s remarks were in response to concerns expressed by Premier Mao Chi-kuo (���v��), who said earlier Tuesday at the Legislature that the incident may affect ties between Taiwan and the U.S.

Also on Tuesday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said at a news conference that it was launching an investigation into incidents involving Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng (�ҤD��), the deputy head of a helicopter squadron in Taoyuan under the Army Aviation Special Forces Command, who has since been removed.

The Army last week held an initial inquiry into allegations that Lao had brought a group of people, including TV hostess Janet Lee (���ȻT), her relatives and friends, to see the Apaches at their base in Longtan on March 29 without approval from his superiors.

Some of the visitors even boarded an Apache and took photos of the chopper. The matter came to light after Lee posted four photos of the Army base tour on her Facebook page, including one of her in the helicopter cockpit, which drew criticisms of loose security in Taiwan’s military. Army ‘Explained’ to the US The Army said it has explained the incident to the U.S. side.

It was also found that Lao had not returned an Apache flight helmet after a training mission last October but rather had used it to create a display at a Halloween costume party at his home. The Apache helmet is listed as a controlled item.

Lao has been removed from his post as deputy head of the squadron and has been referred to Taoyuan prosecutors, who are investigating whether it is a violation of the law for civilians to be brought into a military base at which advanced U.S.-made helicopters are stationed.

At Tuesday’s news conference, Minister for Defense Kao Kuan-chi (���s��) said his ministry has assembled a task force to examine incidents involving lapses in internal management at the Army’s 601st Aviation Brigade in Longtan District in Taoyuan.

The task force, headed by Deputy Defense Minister Liu Chen-wu (�B�_�Z), will spare no effort to uncover the problems and hold accountable the people found culpable, Kao said.

Taiwan has taken delivery of all 30 Apaches it purchased from the U.S. The model E is the latest in the Apache attack helicopter series and Taiwan is among only a few countries using it so far.