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First ever: US Army drills to defend Taiwan against China

Green Berets assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Peter Seidler)
May 17, 2023

Special operators from the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command recently showcased their skills during a training exercise in preparation for potential aggression against Taiwan from China.

The exercise integrated key tactics and weaponry utilized during the Global War on Terror, while also incorporating new tools and strategies to adapt to the evolving landscape of potential conflicts against major military adversaries, according to

Dubbed the USASOC’s annual capabilities exercise (CAPEX), the training session simulated a mission involving the defense of Taiwan against a hypothetical Chinese invasion.

The exercise marked the first time a Taiwan scenario was incorporated into the exercise, featuring a tangible mock-up representing the country. Instead of being positioned in the actual South China Sea, where Taiwan is geographically located, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment’s Chinooks touched down on Range 68 at Fort Bragg.

The exercise provided an opportunity for the Special Operations Command to refine its operational readiness and test its specialized capabilities in a simulated high-stakes scenario.

“The [People’s Republic of China], in accordance with our national defense strategy, is our true pacing challenge out there,” Lt. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga, commanding general of USASOC, said in a speech.

READ MORE: US Army Special Operations Command appoints first female senior enlisted leader

“Ultimately, what we are trying to do is prevent World War III,” he added. “That’s our job.”

The effort highlights USASOC’s commitment to preparedness in both nuclear and conventional conflicts, as outlined in the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy.

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

Demonstrating their adaptability, soldiers showcased their language proficiency during a recent training session, utilizing intermediate to high levels of Mandarin or Russian instead of the traditionally taught Pashto and Dari languages.

The language school at USASOC has shifted its focus, no longer actively instructing soldiers in the Afghan languages but instead providing tests to maintain soldiers’ existing knowledge, as shared by one of the instructors. Furthermore, plans are underway to introduce Ukrainian and Japanese courses to their curriculum.

As part of their training, non-commissioned officers (NCOs) showcased evasion tactics within scaled-down prison camps, utilizing basic bamboo bows and fire starters. Complementing the demonstration, a black uniform featuring Cyrillic text served as a representation of the potential attire worn by instructors at the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) school.

This practical exercise highlights the USASOC’s dedication to adapting to evolving military demands and equipping soldiers with a diverse range of survival techniques. By incorporating unconventional tools and emphasizing the importance of language skills, the organization demonstrates its proactive approach to meeting the challenges of a constantly changing global landscape.