Washington has expanded the training of Taiwanese troops by members of the US National Guard, the Nikkei Asia wrote in an exclusive report yesterday, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.
The expansion came after National Guard training programs helped Ukrainian forces repel a Russian invasion of the country, the Japanese newspaper wrote.
The National Guard is a strategic reserve force that is normally governed by US state governments and is called up to respond to natural disasters or civil unrest.
Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA-EFE
However, US law also allows it to be deployed by the US government.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in May last year unveiled plans for training programs under the National Guard, saying during a visit to Taipei by US Senator Tammy Duckworth that the US Department of Defense is “proactively planning cooperation between the US National Guard and Taiwan’s defense forces.”
Citing sources directly involved in the joint training program, the Nikkei reported that the National Guard started training Taiwanese forces before Tsai’s announcement, adding that some of the personnel had been dispatched to Taiwan from Hawaii.
The National Guard runs training programs involving military units from about 80 countries worldwide, mostly under the US State Partnership Program (SPP). The training differs from country to country and can include infantry tactics, air operations, cyberdefense, disaster response, counterterrorism and medical support. The training involving Taiwanese forces is not under the SPP.
Under the program, nations’ troops mostly cooperate with the National Guard from only one state, while the training in Taiwan involves personnel from multiple states, the Nikkei cited a source as saying.
Taiwan also has more training options than countries participating in the SPP, they said.
“We don’t have a comment on specific operations, engagements or training, but I would highlight that our support for, and defense relationship with, Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China,” the report quoted a Pentagon spokesperson as saying.
“Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region,” they said.
“Increased training through a partnership between Taiwan’s military and the US National Guard is, if confirmed, a significant step and one that has been talked about in Washington for a while,” the report quoted Jacob Stokes, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security think tank, as saying.
“US National Guard training would likely be focused on improving Taiwan’s ability to leverage its reserve forces to greater effect in support of a whole-of-society military mobilization plan,” he said.
The Wall Street Journal in October 2021 reported that US special operations forces had been deployed to Taiwan for at least a year to conduct small-unit tactics training with the Taiwanese military.
Separately, the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) on Jan. 3 reported that Taiwan expects to broaden its cooperation with the National Guard on training, tactics and individual combat skills, as the nation resumes one-year conscription, citing an anonymous source.
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