The word coming from the United States has been that despite President Donald Trump’s failure in winning the second tenure in the US Presidency role, which will now go to President-elect Joe Biden, there will be no significant change in Washington’s policy towards China in light of President Xi Jinping’s expansionist approach.
With the resource-rich South China Sea the hottest contested region as things stand, despite repeated warnings from China, the Pentagon are not going anywhere anytime soon and are also likely to continue building its military partnership with Taiwan much to the disapproval of Beijing, who have in recent times been carrying out war drills near the country.
In what will solidify its stance even further at the cost of angering Beijing, the United States has now deployed their contingent of their Marines to Taipei as per the invitation of the Taiwan Military in a bid to train Taiwanese soldiers.
According to Taiwan’s Naval Command, the Marine Raiders, a special contingent of the US Marines are already present at the island nation and will soon begin training the Taiwanese troops.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry issued a brief statement in respect of the drills which are considered as a means of enhancing the combat capabilities of its own troops.
“In order to maintain regional peace and stability, the military and security cooperation and exchanges between Taiwan and the U.S. are proceeding normally,” said the statement.
While US forces have trained on the island nation, this is the first time since the two countries ceased bilateral ties in 1979 that the fact has been publicized by either of the two country’s officials.
Established by the United States Marine Corps during World War II in order to conduct amphibious light infantry warfare, the Marine Raiders are the Special Operations Forces, whose range of operations range from reconnaissance, unconventional warfare, and counter-terrorism actions.
Formerly known as the Marine Special Operations Regiment (MSOR), the Marine Raiders are a part of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC), which provide tailored military combat skills and special operations capability to accomplish special operations missions which are assigned to them by the Commander of the US Special Operations Command (CDRUSSOCOM)
Moreover, just like in the case of Taiwan, the Marines and Sailors of MARSOC also train and assist the naval and maritime military and paramilitary forces of friendly host nation forces in order to support their country’s internal security and stability, against foreign forces, which can be said to in respect of China.
Having already arrived two weeks earlier, the Marine Raiders underwent quarantine during the time to avoid Corona Virus infection, and will now begin the four-week training exercise.
The US Special Forces will train the Taiwanese soldiers in assault boat and speed boat infiltration operations at the Tsoying Naval Base in Southern Taiwan’s portal city of Kaohsiung.
According to Taiwan’s United Daily News – “The Marine Raiders will be supervising Taiwanese Marines in skills including assault boat and speedboat infiltration operations at the Tsoying Naval Base in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan,”
This would make sense considering the maritime skill sets of the Marine Raiders and the kinds of missions that Taiwan’s Marines, as well as its own maritime special operations forces, could be called upon to perform during a conflict with China.”
With China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy busy expanding its amphibious warfare capabilities in light of a potential invasion on Taiwan, the Raiders could help the Taiwan Special Forces in refining their tactics to counter amphibious landings.
Defense writer, Thomas Newdick, while writing for The Drive, says – “This all suggests that a particular focus is being placed on infiltration and interdiction missions, as well as reconnaissance, reflected also in this latest exercise with the Raiders,”
In particular, in a conflict scenario, Taiwan is expected to deploy special operations teams to various islands in or near the Taiwan Strait from where they would be able to harass Chinese forces, delaying their advance, or perhaps even launching raids on the mainland.”
The exercise including the Marine Raiders is seen as the latest example of the growing US-Taiwanese military ties which have now been increasingly become more public amid the ongoing tensions with China.
Earlier, Taipei had signed defense contracts worth $5 billion with the US, much to the annoyance of Beijing who considers the island nation as its “breakaway province.”