Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng confirmed on Tuesday that a group of Taiwanese Marines had been sent to Guam to train with US Marines for a month. According to the Minister, the joint training is one of several “long standing” bilateral exchange efforts between the United States and Taiwan, although he did not provide further details.
The statement was made on the sidelines of a parliamentary hearing, in response to a request for comment by reporters on a report in the Apple Daily. The online newspaper had reported earlier that day that a platoon of 40 Taiwanese Marines had been dispatched to Guam to train with US Marines there, developing interoperability with the Marine Corps across a range of training scenarios including amphibious landings, airdrops and urban combat.
The comments follow President Tsai Ing-wen’s confirmation last week that US troops were present on Guam to train Taiwanese soldiers. In an appearance on CNN, Tsai confirmed that the American presence was part of a range of joint efforts to build Taiwanese capacity, but stopped short of providing details on its size, saying only that the number was “not as many as people thought”.
The Defense Minister also said on Tuesday that American troops were only present in Taiwan as advisors or assistant instructors, with the troops rotated out once the training courses they were assisting with completed. He stressed that this was far from a permanent presence of American forces on Taiwan, saying that Taipei has made it very clear that this was the case. Beijing has accused the disclosures of US-Taiwan joint training as “provocations”, despite claims only surfacing following a series of large-scale PLAAF flights into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone over the Chinese National Day weekend.
Reuters had reported in early October that U.S. special operations forces had been rotating into Taiwan for training with Taiwanese forces, following the publication of a Wall Street Journal report that claimed that special operations forces and Marines had been secretly training Taiwanese forces for over a year. The Pentagon has refused to directly comment or confirm the reports to date, with spokesperson John Supple saying to Reuters that “our support for and defense relationship with Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China”.