US to deploy more troops to Taiwan to train local army
Editor’s Note: This piece by Radio Free Asia features quotes from CSP Senior Fellow, Grant Newsham.
The Pentagon plans to quadruple the number of American troops in Taiwan and Taipei is to send a combined arms battalion to the United States, both for training purposes in the face of a growing threat from China, according to media reports.
The United States will deploy between 100 and 200 troops to Taiwan to bolster a training program for the local military, a report published by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying.
As of September 2022, the Pentagon had 39 personnel stationed in Taiwan, including 23 on active duty from all four military branches, according to the U.S. Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC).
The unnamed officials who were quoted said this deployment was “planned for months” to help strengthen the island’s self-defense against potential attacks from China, and was not connected with the latest dip in Sino-U.S. relations after the Pentagon shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon.
“This is a good development,” said Grant Newsham, a former U.S. Marine colonel and diplomat. “Even 100 or 200 troops can have a positive effect on Taiwan’s military if they are properly deployed.”
“Taiwan’s military needs as much direct exposure to other militaries as possible as it has been isolated for over 40 years and its capability development has languished as a result,” said Newsham, who spent a whole year studying Taiwan’s defense in 2019.
In his opinion, both militaries should work on a joint operation planning “for future contingencies.”
Several prominent figures in the U.S. military have predicted different timelines for a possible Chinese invasion and urged the island’s leadership to build up defense capabilities.
‘Handcuffed by fear of CCP’
Newsham told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that there’s “also a psychological aspect” as the U.S. new deployment would bolster confidence “with the military, the government, and the public at large.”
“This matters as much as new tactics, techniques, and procedures the military might learn,” he said, adding, “Never overlook the ‘mental’ aspects of a national defense.”
By law, Washington is obligated to help Taiwan to strengthen its defenses but every movement is being closely watched by Beijing, which considers Taiwan a Chinese province and threatens to take it back by force if needed.