#US Green Berets deploying to #Taiwan’s front-line


#US Green Berets deploying to #Taiwan’s front-line

US special forces now permanently assigned to train Taiwanese troops on islands just 10 kilometers from mainland China.

US Special Operations Forces (SOF) have been permanently assigned to Taiwan’s frontline islands, preparing elite Taiwanese units for possible island defense and guerilla warfare operations against a Chinese invasion.

This month, SOFREP reported that US Army SOFs have been deployed to Taiwan for ongoing training under the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). US troops on Kinmen will be situated just ten kilometers from mainland China.

SOFREP states that the US military advisors will take permanent positions at the Taiwanese Army’s amphibious command centers in Kinmen and Penghu, conducting regular training exercises alongside Taiwan’s elite forces.

The collaboration includes training Taiwanese counterparts to use the Black Hornet Nano, a compact military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and creating operational guidelines and training manuals for the drone. The Taiwanese Aviation and Special Forces Command has proposed acquiring the drone directly from the US through military sales avenues.

SOFREP states that the NDAA outlines a framework for deploying US personnel to Taiwan, focusing mainly on military training without immediate plans to station civilian US officials.

It mentions that reports indicate a growing presence of the US Special Operations Forces Liaison Element (SOFLE) in Taiwan, with plans to station small teams from the 1st Special Forces Group’s 2nd Battalion, Alpha Company, on the self-governing island.

It says that these three military teams, composed of three US Army Green Berets, will conduct joint training missions at Taiwan’s 101st Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion and Airborne Special Service Company.

SOFREP mentions that the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense has emphasized the goal of these exchanges is to bolster Taiwan’s training, readiness and institutional capabilities, which it says aligns with annual plans to ensure national and regional security.

Taiwan’s frontline islands of Kinmen and Penghu are critical for its defense, with SOFs playing a vital role in a protracted island defense strategy.

In a February 2023 Asia Society article, Andrew Chubb notes that Kinmen and its surrounding islands are exceptionally well-fortified, with protruding geography and rocky geology enabling deep entrenchment of hardened Taiwanese positions.

Chubb mentions that any attempt to dislodge Taiwanese forces would likely entail fierce fighting and that the battle fate of Kinmen’s 60,000 civilian population could provide a ready rallying cry for wider Taiwan if China invades.

As with Kinmen, Chubb notes that Penghu is a critical target for China’s island seizure operations. He mentions that Taiwanese resistance on Penghu, spearheaded by the Penghu Defense Command armed with tanks, long-range radar, anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, would be a prelude to any full invasion of Taiwan.

Chubb states that multiple analyses of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) strategy for Taiwan generally concur that occupation or neutralization of Penghu would be critical for any cross-strait assault.

However, he notes that seizing Penghu and the surrounding islands would present severe challenges to the PLA due to the significant civilian population and entrenched Taiwanese forces.

He also mentions that a successful Chinese occupation of Penghu would prompt Taiwanese countermeasures but the extent of US support to Taiwan in that situation is unclear.

As for the role of Taiwanese special forces in the defense of Kinmen and Penghu, Stavros Atlamazoglou mentions in a January 2023 Business Insider article that Taiwan’s 101st Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion, analogous to the US Navy SEALs, would spearhead the defense of Kinmen and Penghu, fighting a delaying action to buy time for US and allied intervention.

While Atlamazoglou notes that the Taiwanese SEALs may not be able to do much aside from impose high costs on a vastly superior PLA invasion force, their small numbers, rich skill set, inherent flexibility and unconventional mindset would make them the perfect guerillas, disappearing into the countryside after the first few hours of a Chinese invasion to wage a guerilla war.

Aidan Greer and Chris Bassler note in a December 2022 Modern War Institute article that Taiwanese SOFs on Kinmen and Penghu, given sufficient US and allied support, could provide critical intelligence and targeting for America’s strike platforms.

Should China eventually occupy Taiwan, the latter’s SOFs could reorganize into stay-behind forces hidden behind enemy lines, imposing costs, causing delays and sowing confusion.

In a November 2023 War on the Rocks article, Brian Petit mentions that Taiwan, unable to afford military parity with China and facing likely occupation if the latter invades, has considered or already has a stay-behind force concept. Petit mentions that stay-behind forces can operate under decapitation, pacification, subjugation and liberation scenarios.

In a decapitation scenario involving pre-emptive strikes that quickly eliminate the national leadership, Petit says stay-behind forces can maintain resistance cohesion while staying off the occupier’s target list.

He says that in a pacification scenario where the occupier aims to mollify or pacify the population, stay-behind forces can monitor the former’s behavior to devise an effective resistance strategy.

Petit mentions that in a subjugation scenario where the occupier uses terror, violence and repression to crush resistance, the best course of action for stay-behind forces is to flee to more permissive environments.

In a liberation scenario, he says stay-behind forces can provide intelligence and perform delaying actions to support the arrival of a liberation force.

In those scenarios, Taiwan’s SOFs can also form the nucleus of a possible Taiwanese deterrence strategy through popular resistance, raising the prospect that China will have to confront a hostile population if it invades and occupies the island.

That would increase the costs of an invasion and subsequent occupation, forcing China to rethink or scale down its military objectives against Taiwan.

However, Lumpy Lumbaca notes in a September 2023 Modern War Institute article that Taiwan’s resistance movement should not solely rely on military force but also would need civilian support.

Lumbaca notes that Taiwan’s popular resistance strategy has four general objectives: supporting or enabling the defeat of the Chinese occupation force, maintaining the people’s morale, inspiring other countries to support Taiwan and harassing and disrupting PLA and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) operations.

However, he adds that Taiwan’s specific resistance objectives will depend on the changing circumstances of a possible Chinese occupation.

He notes that if occupying forces are poorly organized, the resistance might focus on defeating China’s forces outright. If the occupation timeline is extended, he says the resistance might need to focus on harassing and disrupting while maintaining the people’s morale.

Lumbaca stresses that the victory of a Taiwanese resistance movement is reliant on various factors such as the duration of the occupation, the strength and size of the occupying force, the level of support from the local population and the international community’s response in terms of diplomacy, information, military and economic assistance.


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