Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Property Disposal -- AFNT

Property disposal is nearly always a major issue, even when Uncle Sam decides to close a military facility in the United States. Increase that by a factor of ten or so, and you have Taiwan in 1979 where there were numerous and diverse facilities and operations involved, further complicated by diplomatic upheaval. In addition to disagreements between the two governments, there were also broad disagreements among the military services and even at different levels within the services.

Both sides simply wanted a fair settlement. The problem was in defining the word fair.

Ultimately agreements were made, some more grudgingly than others, and everything from buildings to blankets were disposed of in a way that was more or less acceptable to all parties.

One of the more interesting details (for me) was the disposition of the Armed Forces Network Taiwan (AFNT).

In March 1979, the Commander of the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command received a request from the Director General of the Taiwan Information Office to transfer, in place and cost free, the AFNT equipment and facilities. AFNT would be used to provide nonprofit English language public service broadcasting to the international community on Taiwan.

The expatriate community had strong feelings over the loss of the AFNT, which led to the American Chamber of Commerce obtaining permission from the Taiwan Government to establish a noncommercial, nonprofit English language radio station. It would be funded by contributions from the foreign business community. COMUSTDC supported this request both for the enhanced quality of life it would provide for the expatriate community and for improved relations with the people on Taiwan. It also afforded the commander the capability to have emergency communication through late April 1979 in the event of natural disaster or other emergencies which might otherwise affect the withdrawal.

CINCPAC supported that request and forwarded it to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) for approval by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) as being a "substantial benefit" to the United States. By law, it was the CNO's responsibility to make that "substantial benefit" determination. On 2 April 1979, CNO advised that transfer of the AFNT facilities and equipment to the Government on Taiwan was considered to be in the best interest of the United States and requested that appropriate procedures and instruments be implemented locally to effect the transfer upon the establishment of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). Preliminary work was to begin immediately, since the American community in Taipei wanted to commence broadcasting immediately following cessation of AFNT operations on 15 April 1979. Naval Broadcast Service (NAVBCSTSVC) Detachment 31 in Taipei was directed to take appropriate actions to achieve a smooth transition.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff directed the transfer of equipment in two phases: NAVBCSTSVC Det 31 to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and from AIT to the Coordination Council for North American Affairs (CCNAA), the Taiwan government's counterpart of AIT. This was accomplished and the International Community Radio in Taiwan began operation on 16 April 1979.

If anyone reading this was there during that time and would like to provide some "on the ground" details of how it went, I'd be pleased to hear about it.


Anonymous said...

Great info :) Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Great site! I was stationed at AFNT-CCK from NOV1971 to MARCH1973. Made it to Taipei several times. Did the morning show while at CCK. Mike S.