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U.S. Military Forces Launch First Drill to Defend Taiwan from China

Source: elifbayraktar / Alamy
Source: elifbayraktar / Alamy

Special operators from the United States Army's Special Operations Command (USASOC) demonstrated their might during a military training exercise in preparation for potential aggression against Taiwan from China.

According to reports, the exercise contained critical military tactics and displayed weaponry used during the Global War on Terror against Islamic Jihadists while including new tools and strategies for the changing landscape of future conflicts against military adversaries like China.

In a statement to The Foreign Desk, the USASOC said that it was the "premier power projection platform in irregular warfare and the production of elite special operators."

The annual capabilities exercise (CAPEX), as labeled by the USASOC, is a training session that simulates a military mission involving the defense of Taiwan against a potential Beijing invasion.

Officials say the exercise was the first with a Taiwan scenario containing a tangible mock-up representing the country. Instead of occurring in the South China Sea, where Taiwan is geographically located, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment's Chinooks trained in Range 68 at Fort Bragg.

"The USASOC Capabilities Exercise, or CAPEX, serves as an opportunity for Army Special Operations to demonstrate its capabilities to key stakeholders, including the members of the American public and Congressional leaders. CAPEX is meant to demonstrate how Army Special Operations Forces operate across the spectrum during competition, crisis, and high-end conflict by showing how ARSOF leverages their unique abilities and equipment to support the National Defense Strategy," a spokesperson from the USASOC told The Foreign Desk.

The military exercise allowed the Special Operations Command to refine its operational readiness and evaluate its specialized capabilities in a high-stakes situation.

"It makes complete sense that the Army is preparing for a scenario that is, unfortunately, more and more realistic. It is a positive sign that our armed forces are working to keep pace with the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) efforts to undermine the stability of the Taiwan Strait," said Bryan Burack, a Senior Policy Advisor for China and the Indo-Pacific at The Heritage Foundation.

"CAPEX 2023 demonstrated ARSOF's role in a fictitious scenario in theater during competition, crisis, and conflict. It is an annual event and not in response to or in preparation for any contingency," USASOC’s statement said.

"The People's Republic of China, in accordance with our national defense strategy, is our true pacing challenge out there," Lieutenant General Jonathan P. Braga, commanding General of USASOC, said in a speech. The general added that USASOC was "trying to prevent World War III" from occurring.

Military analysts say that the latest efforts highlight USASOC's commitment to preparedness in both nuclear and conventional conflicts, as outlined in the Department of Defense's National Defense Strategy.

During the military demonstration, a Green Beret officer addressed a crowd of over 100 individuals from nonprofit and charity organizations supporting the special operations community. The officer noted that he received a brief to conduct an operation to counter the PLA on the island of Taiwan.

Soldiers revealed their language proficiency during the training session, highlighting their intermediate to high levels of Mandarin and Russian.

As part of their training, non-commissioned officers (NCOs) highlighted evasion tactics within scaled-down prison camps, using basic bamboo bows and fire starters. In addition to evasion tactics, troops used black uniforms featuring Cyrillic text, representing the potential attire worn by instructors at the army's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) school.

"The CCP is pursuing its own objectives with regard to Taiwan, the South China Sea, and the number of other places where it is seeking to advance illegal territorial claims and extend its control. The CCP might try to cast this kind of exercise as a provocation and its own aggression as a 'response,' but the CCP is the disruptor, not the US," Burack told The Foreign Desk.

Officials also say that the methods used by American forces at the USASOC display the ever-changing military demands that soldiers face and the necessary usage of unconventional tools, language skills, and organization when faced with global threats.

As China continues its military build-up in the South China Sea, lawmakers have called on the Biden administration and the Department of Defense to supply Taiwan with resources needed to defend the island-state from potential invasion. As the fear of war looms, the Pentagon is preparing to send a security assistance package to Taiwan, using the same drawdown authority the US has used in supporting Ukraine.

"The Biden administration should immediately begin implementing the authorities Congress enacted in December through the Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act, all of which involve joint efforts with Taiwan to increase deterrence across the Taiwan Strait," Burack said.

Related Story: U.S. Doubts Ability to Detect Early Warnings for Chinese Invasion of Taiwan, Leaked Docs Show

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