The “US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific” last week sparked debate among analysts after US President Donald Trump declassified the document 20 years ahead of schedule.
Trump on Tuesday last week released the document that had governed US strategic action in the region since the US leader approved its use in 2018.
The document, which outlines US priorities in the region, emphasizes the importance of defending Taiwan against military aggression and facilitating the country’s development of asymmetric strategies and capabilities.
The overall directive of the document is for the US to prevent China from establishing sustained air and sea dominance inside the first island chain in a conflict, and dominating all domains outside the chain, the report said.
National Chung Cheng University Graduate Institute of Strategy and International Affairs director Soong Hseik-wen (宋學文) on Friday said that the Trump administration might have declassified the report to establish a precedent regarding Taiwan’s strategic value for US president-elect Joseph Biden’s administration.
Taiwan is the point at which China would most likely attempt to breach the first island chain, he said.
Regarding Taiwan’s response should the incoming administration curb arms sales, Institute for National Defense and Security Research research fellow Ou Si-fu (歐錫富), said that having specific weapons systems is not essential to implementing asymmetric warfare strategies.
“The so-called ‘asymmetry’ refers to avoiding what is strong and striking at what is weak,” he said.
“Even if Biden temporarily suspends arms sales to Taiwan, the military’s priority would be to create a fighting force with the defense items obtained during the Trump administration that would achieve the 2025 goal of layered defense and effective deterrence,” he said.
A government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the government cannot speculate on Trump’s intention in releasing the document.
However, its reference to asymmetrical warfare is in line with the military’s focus in the past few years of crafting an innovative and asymmetric fighting force, they said.
Examples of this focus include the development of the small, but heavy-hitting, Tuojiang-class corvettes, cost-effective and fast minelayers, and domestically produced submarines, which are in the prototyping phase, they said.
Notably, the US government and defense corporations have been contributing to Taiwan’s submarine program in significant ways, especially in supply and systems integration, they said.
Regarding precision-guided munitions, the military has unveiled the Hsiung Feng III supersonic anti-ship missile and the Hsiung Feng IIE surface-to-surface cruise missile that comprise an important link in Taiwan’s asymmetric warfare capabilities, they said.
The US has shown support for the military’s goals with arms sales and other defense transfers, including approval of the sale of the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System and Mark 48 torpedoes, they said.
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