The Pentagon on Tuesday did not deny a recent Taiwanese news media report that United States special operations forces (SOF) are headed to Taiwan to help train their counterparts.
Asked by Breitbart News to confirm the report by Taiwan News, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said, “I don’t have anything to comment on that press report. The only thing I would add is, and we’ve said this before, we take our responsibility seriously to help Taiwan defend itself in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act.”
Taiwan News reported that the Taiwanese defense minister said “multiple U.S. special forces units” will arrive in the country to train with their Taiwanese counterparts following the Han Kuang 37 military exercise.
Han Kuang 37 is Taiwan’s largest annual military exercise that simulates a full-scale enemy invasion in a worst-case scenario lasting eight days, Newsweek reported. The goal is to repel a Chinese invasion for a full week, the report said.
The Taiwanese defense ministry also said Taiwan-U.S. military training and exchanges have been “frequent,” due to China’s military threat against Taiwan.
China considers Taiwan — which has a democratically-elected government for decades — part of its territory to be eventually reunited under its communist rule, even if by military force. While the U.S. acknowledges China’s position on Taiwan under the “One China policy,” it has also pledged support to help Taiwan defend itself against any hostile takeover by China.
In recent months, China has been staging increasingly larger and more aggressive military exercises closer to Taiwan. American experts warn China could move to retake Taiwan before the end of 2030.
The Taiwanese news report includes details on COVID-19 protocols U.S. troops will have to take before arriving to Taiwan’s military bases.
The report adds:
Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), an analyst at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said the arrival of U.S. troops reflects Washington’s fears of a Chinese assault on Taiwan. The analyst added that Taiwan’s recent decision to rename the Army’s various corps and defense commands as five distinct theater commands is intended to strengthen combat readiness.
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict Christopher Maier told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that U.S. special operations forces would be a “key contributor” to helping Taiwan strengthen its ability to conduct irregular warfare.
Maier said Taiwan could build on fighting “in depth” in the case of a Chinese military advance where “there could be some opportunities for…resistance networks or other capabilities that would be leave-behind, if you will, against a potential enemy amphibious landing.”
As far as SOF aiding conventional U.S. forces in deterring Chinese aggression, Maier said, “I think information operations is a key area where U.S. [Special Operations Command] brings a lot of capability and we need to, I think, continue to improve upon that.”
“One of the priorities I certainly have in looking at the competition space is how we can be better in that information environment and that of course is not only a SOF capability alone,” he said.