The U.S. has secretly upgraded the National Guard’s training program for Taiwanese troops as concerns over China’s designs for the self-governing island continue to mount, Nikkei reported.
The training, not previously known, began some time before the spring of 2022 in attempt to increase the island’s deterrent effect against a possible Chinese invasion and improve U.S.-Taiwan cooperation, sources familiar told Nikkei. While the exact scope and duration of the expanded training mission in Taiwan remain unclear, training of this sort has proven effective in enhancing U.S. partners’ abilities to defend against attackers.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen previously hinted at the possible National Guard mission, saying in May 2022 that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) was “proactively planning cooperation between the U.S. National Guard and Taiwan’s defense forces,” Reuters reported. Congress’ defense bill for 2022 required a briefing from DOD on the feasibility of increasing U.S. military cooperation with Taiwan.
China lambasted the subtle announcement as “collusion,” claiming that the U.S. planned to instruct Taiwanese forces in urban warfare tactics to potentially trap China’s military in a grinding war of attrition.
However, the new training began prior to Tsai’s comment, sources told Nikkei; National Guard units from multiple states, including Hawaii, appear to be stationed in Taiwan, the sources said. Having contingents from multiple states sets Taiwan’s training program apart from other National Guard overseas operations, one of the sources explained.
“We don’t have a comment on specific operations, engagements or training, but I would highlight that our support for, and defense relationship with, Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China,” a DOD spokesperson told Nikkei. “Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region.”
The National Guard runs state and federal partnership programs with more than 80 governments around the world and resumed training missions for Ukrainian troops in neighboring countries in May of 2022 after a brief suspension during the initial months of Russia’s invasion, according to the National Guard Association of the U.S.
U.S. military forces have conducted training and equipping missions in Taiwan in the past; U.S. officials revealed in October 2021 that a U.S. Marine contingent and special operations group had been secretly stationed in Taipei for at least a year, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Ukraine’s example contributed to Tsai’s decision in December to lengthen the period of mandatory military service for Taiwanese citizens. Tsai said Taiwanese officials noted the determination and level of training displayed by Ukrainian troops in repelling Russian forces, and that the island may have to exhibit similar qualities to fight against China’s much larger air and naval force, the WSJ reported.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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