The annual Han Kuang military exercises that begin today are to feature the debut of Taiwan’s combined arms battalions.
The exercises, aimed at honing the nation’s ability to repel a Chinese invasion, are to last five days and consist of live-fire drills and computer-assisted tabletop training.
The Ministry of National Defense said that some of the nation’s 22 combined arms battalions would see action for the first time in the exercises.
Established in September last year, combined arms battalions bring together soldiers from infantry and cavalry units, liaison officers from different branches, snipers and uncrewed aerial vehicle and missile operators, to form a unit capable of operating independently on the battlefield.
Another highlight in this year’s exercises is to come on Wednesday, when a Chien Lung-class submarine is to test-fire a surface and underwater heavyweight torpedo to sink a target ship, the ministry said.
This would be the navy’s first torpedo test since 2007.
Reserve forces are to participate in live-fire drills for the first time amid increased Chinese military activity around Taiwan, and special forces from the military, police and coast guard would make their first appearance in simulating a rescue of government leaders held hostage by invading forces.
The ministry said the drills would proceed in three stages: maintaining combat capabilities upon an enemy’s first wave of attack, pursuing decisive victory in littoral seas and overwhelming an enemy in landing areas.
The military would not engage in landing drills involving inflatable craft following a fatal incident on July 3 that left two marines dead and one in critical condition, it said.
The drills would instead be performed using amphibious assault vehicles.
In related news, the annual public air drills are to be held tomorrow afternoon, but this year traffic controls would not be enforced during the 30-minute exercise, the ministry said.
Air raid warnings are to sound at 1:30pm tomorrow to signal the start of the drill and at 2pm to mark its conclusion, the ministry said, adding that pedestrians would be allowed to continue on their way during that time.
The ministry said it this year dropped the restrictions on outdoor movement during the exercise to comply with the Central Epidemic Command Center’s COVID-19 prevention guidelines.
Another break from the past is that the Wan An No. 43 drills would be held across Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on the same day, instead of being held on different days in different parts of the country, it said.
This year’s drill would focus on the air raid warnings’ coverage in rural areas, it added.
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