TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Aviation Police Bureau has completed the training of 25 air marshals to serve on United States (U.S.) bound flights operated by Taiwanese carriers under a Taiwan U.S. anti-terrorism cooperation program, government sources said yesterday.
"All the air marshals have completed their training and can take up their duties at any time," said an Aviation Police Bureau official.
The training of air marshals is part of a U.S.-led global anti-terrorism cooperation project, the official went on, adding that Taiwan has been very compliant in carrying out the program.
"The U.S. has been cooperating with countries around the world to counter terrorism since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., and we have been very cooperative in taking steps to improve maritime and airborne traffic security, " the official explained.
On the maritime security front, a new monitoring system was inaugurated at Kaohsiung Harbor in southern Taiwan last November, he continued.
"With the U.S. providing funds and Taiwan providing manpower, all container shipping centers at the harbor have been outfitted with radioactive substance-detecting instruments to filter all U.S.-bound containers for counter-terrorism purposes," he said.
For aviation security, the official went on, the Aviation Police Bureau was charged with training the 25 air marshals. "All of them are elite members of our police force," the official said.
In addition to receiving rigorous training in identifying and detecting explosives, hostage negotiations, shooting, arrest skills, combat in formation, handcuffing, unarmed combat, police baton work and taekwondo, they also had to pass family background checks, loyalty checks and emotional management tests. As Taiwan is not a high-risk area for terrorist attacks and has consistently imposed stringent security inspections at its airports, the official said, the U.S. has not yet asked Taiwan to assign air marshals on Taiwanese carriers' U.S.-bound flights.
Even without a U.S. request, though, the official said, Taiwan's civil aviation authorities can dispatch air marshals to execute duties on either international or domestic flights based on their own intelligence and judgment.
Japan and China have deployed plainclothes air marshals on their commercial flights for several years, the official pointed out.
The Aviation Police Bureau plans to send several of the air marshals to the U.S. to receive additional training in the latest airborne counter-terrorism skills, the official said, adding that they will serve as instructors after their return from the U.S.
-The China Post/Asia News Network