US Senate passes 2019 NDAA calling for joint Taiwan-US military drills

The annual defense bill passed the Senate, and includes provisions for greater military cooperation and support for Taiwan’s defense

Taiwan military exercise. (Photo from Ministry of Defense FB page)

Taiwan military exercise. (Photo from Ministry of Defense FB page)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In a vote of 85 to 10, the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was passed by the Senate yesterday (June 18) with provisions to facilitate greater miliary cooperation and collaboration between the U.S. and Taiwan.

According to a recent draft by the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, the annual defense bill states that the U.S. military will be expected to participate in military drills with Taiwanese forces.

The NDAA sets out policies and procedures for the Department of Defense's programs and activities for the 2019 financial year.

The bill says that based on the Taiwan Relations Act, the U.S. should support Taiwan's improvement of its defensive military capabilities and should work to streamline U.S. arms sales to Taiwan based on the country's needs.

Some media observers, like Liberty Times, suggest that after the passage of the bill, U.S. forces may participate in Taiwan's annual Han Kuang military exercises next year.

The bill also calls for greater collaboration between Taiwan and the U.S. in areas relating to humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

The NDAA is also expected to include provisions to stop the Department of Defense from dealing with Chinese telecom ZTE in its entirety, in order to penalize ZTE for lying about circumventing UN-backed sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

The final version of the bill which was passed by the Senate will be available to the public next week.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the NDAA on May 25, which was received by the Senate on June 5.

For the 2019 NDAA bill to become law, the legislation only needs to be signed by President Trump.