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US Marines are in Taiwan; first public confirmation since 1979

Service members with Japan, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Germany and Korea’s armed forces learn about a CH-53E Super Stallion with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 466 during a base tour at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., April 10, 2017. (Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Jake M.T. McClung/Released)
November 09, 2020

A contingent of U.S. Marines have arrived in Taiwan and will start training Taiwanese troops for the next four weeks on the invitation of Taiwan’s military.

The confirmation from Taiwan’s Naval Command Monday marks the first public acknowledgement of Marines training in Taiwan in over 40 years, Taiwan News reported.

Taiwanese Marines will begin training under the U.S. Marine Raiders, the Marine’s special operations soldiers, in assault boat and speedboat infiltration operations in Kaohsiung at the Tsoying Naval Base, UDN reported.

The training is also the first collaboration between Taiwanese troops and allied troops since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus which stopped all exchanges earlier this year.

Taiwan’s Naval Command said the interaction is a “routine Taiwan-U.S. military exchange and cooperation training.” The goal of the exchange with U.S. Marines is to improve the combat capabilities of Taiwanese troops.

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Prior to training, the U.S. Marines followed the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s epidemic prevention protocol, spending two weeks in an epidemic prevention hotel in quarantine.

“In order to maintain regional peace and stability, the military and security cooperation and exchanges between Taiwan and the U.S. are proceeding normally,” the Navy Command said in a statement Monday. They did not comment on details of the collaboration.

The United States has sent small units of elite troops from other branches to Taiwan for joint training missions annually, but the Taiwan government rarely acknowledges them. This is the first time since the cessation of diplomatic relations between the two counties in 1979 that Taiwan has publicly confirmed the collaboration.

Every year, the ROC Army Aviation and Special Forces Command and United States Army Special Forces hold a joint exercise referred to as “Balance Tamper.”

During a raiding craft landing drill near Kaohsiung City, an unexpected surge of waves overturned two of the eight rafts. Three people died and one was severely injured as a result of the training incident. Additional training exercises were canceled as a result of the deadly incident, putting the future of collaboration into question.

Nearly NT$825 million (US$28 million) have been allocated by the Taiwan Navy to strengthen the Marines special operations and anti-terrorism capabilities. The allocation includes acquiring 18 special operations raiding crafts, thermal imagers and boarding equipment.

U.S. Marine Raiders Regiment includes battalions of four companies with each company composed of more than 100 marines with special operations competencies. The regiment’s missions have long included reconnaissance an amphibious light infantry warfare.