TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. is reportedly set to increase the number of troops in Taiwan amid increasingly aggressive military posturing by China.
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday (Feb. 23) cited U.S. officials as saying that 100 to 200 soldiers will be dispatched to Taiwan in the coming months. Approximately 39 troops and Department of Defense personnel are reportedly stationed in Taiwan as of September 22, 2022, according to the latest DMDC report.
Over the years, the number of U.S. troops in Taiwan has fluctuated, but generally only numbered around a dozen or two. For example, in the last report released during the Obama administration on Dec. 31, 2016, the U.S. had a total troop presence of 10, while under Trump, the number of soldiers from various branches of the military was 20.
Raising the number of soldiers to triple digits would represent the largest U.S. troop presence in Taiwan in decades. The troops will reportedly be sent to expand training for Taiwanese soldiers.
The newspaper added that the Michigan National Guard is also providing training to a Taiwanese military unit. This will reportedly include the participation of Taiwanese forces in annual war games involving multiple countries at northern Michigan's Camp Grayling.
When asked to comment on the increased number of U.S. soldiers in Taiwan, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday referred the media to the Department of Defense. However, she added that in terms of U.S. policy toward Taiwan, "Our support for and defense relationship with Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China and consistent with our One China policy. That has not changed."
After a meeting with a Congressional delegation at the presidential office on Tuesday (Feb. 21), President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said "Taiwan and the United States continue to bolster military exchanges." The next day, news broke that troops from the Army will go to the U.S. for exchanges at the battalion level (500 soldiers) for the first time in history in the second half of this year.
When asked by the media for comment, Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said that the news was reported by U.S. media, but he did not know their sources. Chiu said Taiwan and the U.S. have a lot of exchanges, not limited to a single aspect, such as requesting training on U.S. weapons and equipment.
Regarding the expansion of the U.S. troop presence in Taiwan, Chiu said that more information needs to be gathered to provide a thorough explanation.