THE immediate problem that confronts Formosa is military. Last winter the Chinese Communists completed construction of a string of airbases along the Fukien coast on the mainland opposite the island. These bases are backed up by a network of airfields--including many built by Americans during the war--stretching across the interior of China to the foothills of Tibet. The new Communist airbases have been stocked with petrol and lubricants, and equipped with radar and anti-aircraft guns. The Communists also have kept near at hand the thousands of junks and other craft they assembled for an invasion of Formosa before the U.S. Seventh Fleet moved in to protect the island in June 1950.
If the Korean war ends without a settlement that includes provisions for Formosa, the Chinese Communists may shift a substantial portion of their strength south. Their high command can then choose between launching a full-fledged invasion of Formosa or putting the Chinese Red Air Force, reported to number about 1,600 combat planes, to work on the island. The Red Air Force can now stage out of relatively secure bases deep in the interior and strike against American planes and ships that have only limited air warning facilities.
In anticipation of possible Communist attack against Formosa, the United States is working with the Chinese Nationalists to organize a defense of their island refuge. A U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group has been functioning on the island officially since May 1, 1951. During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1951, it supervised the use of about $78,000,000 worth of military aid. The Mutual Security Program for 1951-1952 included an additional appropriation of roughly $217,000,000 to provide military aid to Formosa.
In addition to enlarging several Formosan airfields and modernizing other installations, the American effort has aimed chiefly at reorganizing, training, arming and otherwise rehabilitating the Nationalist military establishment. These Nationalist forces number nearly 650,000 men. They include roughly 90,000 in the Air Force, some 50,000 in the Navy and about 20,000 in the Combined Service Forces. Political officers and garrison troops account for
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