Southeast Asian regional sources have revealed Monday that Taiwanese troops attended a rare joint exercises with the US military on American soil this summer.
It happened last month in Michigan, Taipei Times reports, and ran from August 5th to the 19th, and involved some 7,000 combined personnel. The US side was chiefly represented by the Michigan National Guard, and reportedly not troops overseen directly by the Pentagon.
Dubbed "Northern Strike", the entire joint battalion of the Taiwan's 333rd Infantry Brigade was sent to Michigan, and it's a sign that more such US-based exercises could be on the horizon.
Interestingly, Taipei Times, cites a Japanese newspaper which commented on ways Washington is wary of provoking Beijing with the joint training:
The Sankei Shimbun said that to not provoke China too much, the Michigan exercises were led by the National Guard — a strategic reserve force that is normally overseen by US state governments — instead of the US Armed Forces.
The US National Guard also helped train Ukrainian soldiers after Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, it said.
But we doubt Beijing will care too much about these internal US military distinctions, given also the immense symbolism of Taiwan ground forces undergoing war training deep in the heart of America.
There have been reports saying this isn't necessarily the first time, and that it's an "open secret" - as the regional source lays out further:
As early as 2021 foreign media have reported on joint military training between Taiwan and the US at Camp Grayling in Michigan, Institute of National Defense and Security Research fellow Su Tzu-yun said.
Asked in July whether the US National Guard helped train Taiwanese troops, US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner said discussions about the issue should be kept behind closed doors, Su said.
But around Taiwan, China's PLA military has kept up the constant pressure, especially after last summer's ultra-provocative visit of then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei.
American and Taiwan officials have been tight-lipped about this 'open secret' of training on US soil...
Far from the first time Taiwanese troops have trained at Camp Grayling. https://t.co/Ll2OzgvKaS— Brandon Chew (@BrandonMIChew) September 4, 2023
This has included Chinese Naval ships and jets violating the median line separating waters of the Taiwan Strait on a regular basis. And PLA flights have buzzed the island pretty much on a weekly basis since then.