The US has expanded its training of the Taiwanese military to include a program involving the US National Guard, Nikkei Asia reported on Thursday.
A source told Nikkei that the training began sometime before spring 2022. In May 2022, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced cooperation with the National Guard while hosting Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in Taipei. "The US Department of Defense is now proactively planning cooperation between the US National Guard and Taiwan’s defense forces," Tsai said. "We look forward to closer and deeper Taiwan-US cooperation on matters of regional security."
The report said that the training already began before Tsai made the announcement during Duckworth’s visit. Since the training started, the National Guard has trained Taiwanese troops in both Taiwan and inside the US.
National Guard training overseas typically involves a unit from a single state, but the report said the training in Taiwan involves units from multiple US states, including Hawaii. The US and Taiwan rarely acknowledge their military cooperation, and a Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on the National Guard Training.
"We don’t have a comment on specific operations, engagements or training, but I would highlight that our support for, and defense relationship with, Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China," the Pentagon told Nikkei.
In October 2021, The Wall Street Journal reported that a US special operations unit and a contingent of Marines were in Taiwan and had been training Taipei’s military for at least a year. Tsai later confirmed the report, marking the first time a Taiwanese leader acknowledged a US military presence in Taiwan since Washington severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979.
The growing US-Taiwan military ties anger Beijing, which views the policies as an affront to the one-China policy. The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act President Biden recently signed into law includes measures to increase US and Taiwanese military cooperation even more.
The US is also encouraging Japan’s military buildup and is planning to expand its military facilities in the Philippines as part of its effort to counter China in the region. The top US Marine Corps general in Japan described the effort as "setting the theater" and said the US did something similar in Ukraine starting in 2014, after the US-backed coup that deposed former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
The US launched a similar National Guard training program for Ukraine in 2014, known as Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, that rotated through units from different states. US military officials said 23,000 Ukrainians were trained under the program. The US withdrew its National Guard troops from Ukraine shortly before Russia’s invasion.