Taiwan to participate in US Navy drill

‘ACTUAL PARTICIPATION’::Taiwanese observers will participate in parts of the anti-submarine exercise, such as boarding US helicopters engaged in drills, an official said

By Lo Tien-pin and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Mon, Sep 11, 2017 - Page 1

Taiwanese military observers will participate in a US anti-submarine warfare exercise in March next year with unprecedented levels of access, a military official said yesterday, calling it “actual participation.”

The US military has previously only permitted observers to see the details of its anti-submarine tactics and technology during the exercise, the official said on condition of anonymity.

“Instead of spectating on the sidelines, observers will actually participate in parts of the anti-submarine exercise. For example, they are authorized to be present on US Navy helicopters that are actively engaged in anti-submarine drills,” the official said.

Taiwanese officers would observe how the US trains anti-submarine specialists and its operational procedures, the official added.

High-ranking officers from the navy’s marine patrol aviation groups will participate as observers in the exercise, the official said.

In the past decade, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy has rapidly upgraded its submarine fleet and added more than 70 new boats, the official said.

“The threat to Taiwan is serious and we have detected signs of suspected Chinese submarine activities on the edges of Taiwan’s sovereign seas,” the official said.

Taiwan’s and the US’ armed forces used to conduct joint marine patrol exercises on a regular basis during the period of direct US military assistance, which came to a halt after the US severed diplomatic ties with Taipei, the official said.

“Agreement from the US to let our military observers actually participate in the exercises next year is a major breakthrough and will significantly help the nation’s overall anti-submarine warfare capabilities,” the official said.

According to the budget plan the Ministry of National Defense has submitted to the Legislative Yuan, the observers will be invited to a wide range of exercises by US combat units next year under the project “Kuan Wu 107.”

The Republic of China Marine Corps will also send military observers to the US to participate in an amphibious warfare exercise with the US Marine Corps, according to the plan.

The budget highlighted several areas of interest for Taiwan’s marines, including amphibious combined-arms operations, the movement of a fire support coordination center from ship to shore during an amphibious operation and the use of naval medical services in humanitarian aid.