More U.S. Troops Heading to Taiwan

Taiwan's army conducting drills on Jan. 12 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan | Image by Annabelle Chih/Getty Images

To help Taiwan bolster its defenses against China, the United States will send additional troops to the island nation as part of an expanded American-led training program.

Over the coming months, upwards of 200 U.S. troops will head to the country, over four times the number present one year ago. The training program — which the Pentagon has preferred not to publicize — is designed to deliver Taiwan’s military the capabilities required to confront China, according to The Wall Street Journal.

While a small number of American troops have been stationed in Taiwan over the past few years — including Marines and special-operation forces — the latest news would mark the largest U.S. deployment to the country in decades.

News of the expansion comes amid growing tension between Washington and Beijing. In early February, an alleged Chinese spy balloon was shot down over U.S. airspace. Beijing maintains that the balloon was an unmanned weather airship.

The U.S. also sent Taiwan over $425 million worth of arms in December, leading to China’s Ministry of Commerce issuing economic sanctions against U.S. defense companies Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, as The Dallas Express reported.

The decision to increase the presence of U.S. troops in Taiwan comes amid raised fears that China may decide to invade its smaller neighboring nation, much like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

China has long considered Taiwan as part of its territory and has not ruled out the use of force to gain control.

“The historical task of the complete reunification of the motherland must be fulfilled, and will definitely be fulfilled,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said just one year ago, according to the BBC.

Over the past decade, Beijing has increasingly built up its military capabilities. For instance, it has apparently been working on a hypersonic missile program, capable of traveling at five times the speed of sound.

Maneuvers near Taiwan from China’s People’s Liberation Army have further escalated tension in the South China Sea. Last summer, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Taiwan, Beijing reportedly deployed warplanes and warships and launched missiles around the island nation in a show of force.

Similarly, in late December, after the U.S. pledged the island nation $10 billion in military assistance grants over the next five years, it was reported that 71 Chinese air force planes simulated an air raid that infringed on Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.

As a result of China’s apparent posturing, the U.S. has sought out a “porcupine strategy,” according to reporting by Fox News.

The strategy is designed to help minor powers level differences in military prowess with more prominent players. The approach involves the smaller power focusing on acquiring more nimble weaponry, though not exclusively.

Referring to Taiwan potentially adopting the tactic, Matt McInnis from the Institute for the Study of War told Fox News last year that the weapons being used in Eastern Europe against Russia may similarly prove effective against China.

“These many small [weapons] are going to be critical to take advantage of Taiwan’s geography, the fact that it’s on the defensive, that you always have a defensive advantage,” said McInnis, per Fox News. “You need to bring in cruise missiles, drones, mines, mortars like you’re seeing in Ukraine that these types of capabilities would make it difficult for China to accomplish an invasion.”

According to the WSJ, U.S. officials said that the contingent of U.S. troops heading overseas will help train Taiwan forces on U.S. weapons systems and military maneuvers but gave no further details.

While the U.S. troop presence in Taiwan is relatively small, Beijing has expressed displeasure in the past with the growing military ties between Taipei and Washington. When a WSJ story broke detailing U.S. military training in Taiwan in 2021, China’s foreign ministry announced they would respond to protect the country’s interests.

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