A report that a group of Taiwanese marines have been sent on a one-month training program in Guam as part of a Taiwan-US defense cooperation and exchange program is correct, Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said yesterday.
The program is one of a number of “long-standing” bilateral exchange projects between Taipei and Washington, Chiu said, without elaborating.
Chiu made the comments on the sidelines of a hearing at the legisature in Taipei when asked by reporters to comment on a report about the program in the Chinese-language Apple Daily.
The Marine Corps has sent a platoon of 40 marines for month-long amphibious landing training at the US military base in Guam to enhance their combat capabilities, the report said.
Taiwanese and US marines would also undergo training for joint operations to learn the latest US Marine Corps tactics, it added.
Chiu’s comments came after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Thursday last week confirmed for the first time the presence of US troops in Taiwan helping to train the military to counter threats posed by China.
Taiwan has “a wide range of cooperation with the US aiming at increasing our defense capability,” Tsai told CNN.
She did not specify how many US service personnel were in Taiwan, saying only that the number was “not as many as people thought.”
International media last year reported that the US had been rotating a small number of US Marines and Special Operations Forces to train the Taiwanese military amid rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait.
At that time Chiu denied that US troops had been deployed to Taiwan, describing US military personnel as being in Taiwan for military training “exchanges” with their Taiwanese counterparts.
China said that it had long been aware that US military personnel regularly visited Taiwan, but accused Tsai of provocation by making such visits public.
Chiu yesterday reiterated his stance that US military trainers and consultants were in Taiwan only on short-term assignments and have not been posted or deployed.
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