The US special operations forces have been rotating into Taiwan on a brief basis to carry out training of Taiwanese forces, two sources acquainted with the matter said today, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Pentagon, which historically has not disclosed details about US training or advising of Taiwanese forces, did not particularly remark on or confirm the deployment.
“I don’t have any remarks on specific operations, engagements, or training, however, I would like to highlight that our support for and defense relationship with Taiwan remains aligned against the contemporary threat posed by the People’s Republic of China,” said Pentagon spokesman John Supple.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry declined to comment, saying only that “all navy exchanges are carried out in accordance with annual plans”.
The sources declined to say how long the training had been going on however suggested it predated the Biden administration, which came into office in January.
While at least one Asian media outlet has previously said on such training, any kind of official US confirmation could similarly aggravate US-China relations at a time when Beijing is carrying out muscular military exercises close to Taiwan. The Wall Street Journal published details on the training, citing unnamed US officials, earlier today.
“I wouldn’t rule out the opportunity that Beijing is conscious of this,” stated Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund, noting a social media post during the Trump administration about training by special operations forces.
“Making this public will compel the Chinese to react, and they will possibly do so by stepping up pressure on Taiwan.”
Democratic Representative Ami Bera, who leads the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia, used to be asked at a defense convention if he had been made conscious of the deployment.
“Not especially this deployment, if I call it a deployment. I think we have special operators and others there, and we have in the past that are there coaching (Taiwan’s) military, working with them,” Bera said.
Republican Senator Thom Tillis, who is on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the same event he had not been made specifically conscious and had only viewed public reports, but added: “Actually I would be happier if that quantity used to be in the hundreds.”
The United States is Taiwan’s biggest supplier of weaponry and has long offered some degree of training on weapons systems, as nicely as specific advice on approaches to strengthen its military to guard against an invasion by China’s Peoples Liberation Army.
China sees Taiwan as a wayward province and has not ruled out taking the island by force. Taiwan says it is an unbiased country and will defend its democracy and freedom.
Chinese military aircraft have repeatedly flown in the latest days via Taiwan’s expansive air defense identification zone, which extends well outside Taiwan’s airspace.
But China has avoided Taiwanese airspace, no shots have been fired and there have been no regarded close calls between Chinese and Taiwanese aircraft.
The Taiwanese authorities have denounced China’s military exercises and says it will defend the island’s freedom and democracy, insisting that solely Taiwan’s people can determine their future.