TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) on Tuesday (Nov. 2) tried to downplay news that 40 Taiwanese marines are currently training with U.S. troops in Guam.
Earlier on Tuesday, Apple Daily reported that 40 Taiwanese marines are training at a newly built U.S. military base in Guam. They are reportedly undergoing one month of training as part of joint Taiwan-U.S. amphibious landing exercises called 陸吼 (Lu Hou, "Roar of the Marines").
As he prepared to enter a session of the Legislative Yuan, reporters pressed Chiu on local reports of 40 Taiwanese training in Guam. Chiu responded, "Exchanges and cooperation between Taiwan and the U.S. have been well established for many years."
Confirming the presence of Taiwanese marines in Guam, Chiu said, "This is also a part of the cycle of exchanges." He then stressed, "There is no need to speculate."
The Lu Hou amphibious landing exercises were first conducted at Fangliao Beach in Pingtung in 1958. The exercises continued to be held until 1979, when the U.S. broke off diplomatic and official military relations with Taiwan.
It was not until after Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 that military exchanges resumed between the two countries. After the act became law, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) set up a special team to coordinate small-scale military exchanges between Taiwanese and American marines, according to the Apple Daily report
The Taiwan Marine Corps' 99th brigade is reportedly participating in this year's Lu Hou exercises. A selection process and vaccinations were carried out, with 40 out of 100 Marines chosen to participate.
In addition to training for amphibious assaults, the troops are also reportedly conducting air assault and urban warfare exercises. The purported purpose of the training is to update Taiwanese troops on the latest U.S. Marine tactics and advanced training methods to enhance their combat readiness.
Reports also recently surfaced that the Army Command Headquarters will spend NT$1.44 million (US$51,000) to rent a liaison office at an unnamed U.S. military base from October of this year to March 2025. When asked to comment on this news, Chiu said that this is also a long-standing practice "because some personnel have been permanently stationed in these places for many years."