A little more than two months after retiring as US Army chief of staff, four-star General George Casey Jr is visiting Taiwan at the invitation of the Republic of China Army, sources have confirmed to the Taipei Times.
Among other activities, Casey was scheduled to address National Defense University sometime this week. Although the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) would neither confirm the visit nor provide an itinerary, Casey is believed to have visited the AIT’s office as well as the site of its future home in Neihu (內湖). Unconfirmed reports say Casey has also visited a number of military bases and is being escorted around by a Defense Intelligence Agency official from the institute.
A spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, who also would not confirm Casey’s visit, said it was not unusual for Taiwan to extend invitations to recently retired senior US military officers. One such recent high-level visit was that of Admiral Timothy Keating, who came a few months after retiring as commander of the US Pacific Command in October 2009.
The visits, though low profile, are nevertheless perceived as a symbol of continued US involvement, both at the official and unofficial level, in the defense of Taiwan.
As a general rule, the US -government is supportive of such visits, though Taiwan often prefers to keep the visits under the radar as a courtesy to the visitor, US sources said.
The Sendai, Japan-born Casey, who was the top US commander in Iraq from June 2004 to February 2007, was sworn in as US Army chief of staff on April 10, 2007. After his retirement in April, he was replaced by General Martin Dempsey.
Casey, whose military career had little to do with East Asia, got a taste of the politics of the Taiwan Strait when, during a visit to Beijing in August 2009, he was berated by Chief of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army Chen Bingde (陳炳德) over US arms sales to Taiwan.