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The US and Taiwan agreed to increase their military cooperation

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The United States and Taiwan are boosting troop exchange and training exercises in both countries, according to the Wall Street Journal. Currently, there are only 39 American troops training Taiwanese forces there, but shortly, that number is expected to jump to 200. 

Taiwan is also expected to send 500 troops to the United States for training; the training locations are yet to be announced.

Army Green Berets and Marine Raiders have conducted training missions to Taiwan, and those deployments will continue and expand with the increase in troop numbers. 

This move may be seen unfavorably by China, which has accused the U.S. of stoking tensions in and around Taiwan and the South China Sea. The U.S. has beefed up defenses around Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines in light of Chinese bellicose moves in the region. 

LTC Marty Meiners, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, wouldn’t comment on specific operations, engagements, or training, but added that American “support for, and defense relationship with, Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China.

“Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region,” Meiners added.

Related: American airpower is the key to defending Taiwan from Chinese invasion

The Taiwanese troops heading to the United States will include a combined-arms battalion from the Army’s 333rd Mechanized Infantry Brigade and 542nd Armor Brigade. Additional liaison officers from infantry, armor, Navy, Air Force, and Army aviation units, along with special operators, will also be part of the visiting troops. Taiwanese troops will receive training on U.S. weapons systems and tactics.

While U.S. officials say that these moves have been planned for months, the timing of the announcement coincides with the recent news of Chinese spy balloons overflying the U.S. and Canada.

In 1949, Chinese Communists under Mao Zedong defeated the Nationalists under General Chiang Kai-shek after a long and bloody civil war. The Communists, under Mao, ruled China while the Nationalists fled to Taiwan, then called Formosa. 

The Chinese have always considered Taiwan to be part of China and traditionally have played a waiting game to get the island back under the control of the Chinese Communist Party. But as the Chinese military has expanded its influence in China, the patience shown for generations is beginning to fray.

Feature Image: A Taiwanese soldier during basic training. (Republic of China Army Command Headquarters)

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Steve Balestrieri