Taiwan Stages Military Drills to Deter Chinese Aggression

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A senior Taiwanese official says the aerial, naval and urban warfare exercises are aimed at making China’s People’s Liberation Army “think twice”.

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“We Want People’s Liberation Army” [of China] To think twice before taking action,” Colonel Sun Li-feng, who worked in the Political Warfare Bureau of the Taiwan Army Command, later told a reporter who had witnessed the scene. “Do you really have that determination? Willingness or the ability to lose an arm and a leg?”

The mock shelling on Thursday in the southern city of Kaohsiung was part of a series of exercises by Taiwan’s army, air force and navy spread over three days this week. Watched by more than 60 journalists along with local and international news outlets, the exercises are part of a deeper preventive effort aimed at Beijing.

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Rising tensions between China and the US over the past year have drawn global attention to Taiwan’s ability to defend itself. Washington has maintained close ties with the democratically self-governing island, seeing it as a strategic shield against China’s ambitions in the region, but US military planners have been wary of Taiwan’s preparations for a possible Chinese invasion. questions have been raised.

The Communist Party, which sees Taiwan as part of China and has vowed to take control of it by force if necessary, is increasing military pressure on the island, sending hundreds of military aircraft to nearby planes. .

China’s embassy in the US did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Taiwan’s exercise. Beijing characterized the layoffs as a warning to forces promoting Taiwan’s independence.

In October, Taiwan’s defense minister told lawmakers that the island’s military faced its most serious challenge in decades and predicted that China would be able to launch a full-fledged attack on Taiwan with minimal damage by 2025.

Facing a much larger military force in the PLA, Taiwan has traditionally responded with expensive weapons purchases from the US, some of which were displayed on Wednesday at a military airfield near Chiayi, where journalists were told. The Taiwanese Air Force was recently invited to see the upgraded. The fleet of F-16V jet fighters simulates an emergency response to an incursion by Chinese warplanes.

“Our security forces work round the clock. Sometimes we fly in the middle of the night or early in the morning,” said Taiwanese F-16 pilot Major Yen Siang-sheng, recalling his interception of a Chinese J-16 jet during a mission two months ago . , He said fighter pilots spend half a day in the air on a normal training day.

Military analysts in both Taiwan and the US have criticized Taiwan’s military for spending money on lucrative purchases such as the F-16 rather than using its resources to improve the PLA’s ability to conduct asymmetric warfare against superior forces. .

The urban-battle exercise on Thursday was part of the island’s effort to show it is prepared for a worst-case scenario: a face-off with Chinese soldiers on the island’s city streets after the Air Force and Navy allowed an amphibious To come down

Taiwanese military officials said urban warfare had become a key element of training for the military. To demonstrate, a few dozen soldiers in full combat gear engaged in a 20-minute mock close-quarters battle in a makeshift Taiwanese town made of simple concrete buildings with diminutive signs depicting local banks, pharmacies and bubble-tea shops Had happened.

Previously, the military sometimes armed soldiers with paintball guns, which were not accurate, according to Colonel He Hua-shing, chief of staff of the Army’s Infantry Training Command in Kaohsiung. Since 2019, Taiwan has employed a billion-dollar laser-based system, which Col said has significantly improved the quality of training.

The new system, also used by the US military, combines blank rifle cartridges with an improved version of the game’s laser tag to simulate close-quarters combat. With multiple sensors mounted to each soldier’s uniform, the system can simulate battlefield injuries and deaths with relative accuracy.

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Colonel Sun said training for a Chinese offensive entails an enormous amount of uncertainty. The PLA has not fought a war since the 1970s, while the Taiwanese military’s last experience of significant conflict dates back to the 1950s. On top of that, Taiwan’s complex landscape and densely populated cities present a significant training challenge, other military officials said.

Officials said the army plans to expand the scope of the urban combat training program, including expanding its training facilities, in the coming years.

The exercise concluded on Friday, when the Taiwanese Navy dispatched two newly developed domestic warships for an hour off the waters off the northern port of Keelung.

Navy officials displayed the ship’s arsenal of sea mines and antiship missiles – a type of asymmetric weapon that military analysts say Taiwan would need to deploy en masse to deter a Chinese invasion.

“Wherever the battle is likely to be fought, that’s where we train,” he said. “Our training always responds to enemy moves.”

Write Joy Wang at [email protected]

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