TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan history and defense expert Bill Sharp believes the increase in U.S. military personnel in Taiwan over the past year is part of Washington’s “salami-slicing” tactic to bolster ties with Taipei.
Salami-slicing tactics involve the use of military forces in a way that falls short of initiating an actual war but successfully "transforms the geopolitical situation in its favor," according to Defense One.
The Pentagon recently revealed there are two soldiers from the army, three from the navy, five from the air force, and 29 marines in Taiwan, according to a recent Voice of America (VOA) report. From Dec. 31, 2020, to Sept. 30, the number of American troops in Taiwan increased from 20 to 39.
"The U.S. is showing its support for Taiwan in an 'American salami-slicing way' through repeated visits by U.S. congressional members and other high-profile figures," VOA quoted Sharp as saying. Over the past 18 months, the U.S. has also sold a number of weapons to Taiwan, he added.
The scholar speculated the increase in troops may be due to weapons and combat training, such as advising Taiwanese on the defense of Dongsha Island. "Attacking the island could be a convenient way (for China) to embarrass Taiwan and the United States without civilian loss of life," he said.
Therefore, Sharp said he estimated there would be some American troops on the outlying island. This also serves to prevent China from attacking, because if any U.S. service member is killed, it would severely damage U.S.-China relations, he said.