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US Air Force official says Taiwanese willing to fight against Chinese invasion

US Air Force captain finds Taiwanese determined to defend nation if properly trained, equipped

Troops from 542nd Armor Brigade train during Han Kuang exercises in 2019. 

Troops from 542nd Armor Brigade train during Han Kuang exercises in 2019.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese are willing to fight in a cross-strait conflict if given proper training and equipment, a U.S. Air Force official has found.

Taiwan-PRC Director for the Secretary of the Air Force Captain Jimmy Chien recently visited Taiwan to gauge the public’s thoughts on a Chinese attack on Taiwan and their will to fight. In a Global Taiwan Institute article published on (Nov. 1), he said that a majority of military-age men he talked to were willing to fight to the end if they were provided with the necessary training and hardware to defend themselves.

Chien said that the young conscripts he talked to said there was very little tactical or operational combat training. Instead, the soldiers were assigned administrative and menial tasks.

Despite this, their fighting spirit was still very high, the captain said. He estimated that approximately 70% would stay to defend against a Chinese invasion, while 20% would leave Taiwan, and 10% would surrender.

“The Taiwanese are looking for the ability to fight to the best of their capability. From their perspective, this is contingent on two things: proper training and U.S. support,” Chien said. With regard to U.S. support, the Taiwanese are looking for an American commitment to providing non-combat support, especially logistical, he said.

From his conversations with hundreds of Taiwanese, Chien identified three changes Taiwan could pursue to boost soldiers’ morale and bolster its defense. Better training and equipment would improve the military’s status and image in the public's minds, he said.

He urged Taiwan’s military to focus on realism and “shift away from its preoccupation with scripted training exercises.” Chien also called for the conscription and reserve systems to be “revamped.”

The captain recognized that the Taiwanese had the will to fight but said there was much room for improvement regarding training and preparedness. These two factors are Taiwan’s greatest deterrent against a Chinese invasion, and “ultimately the greatest guarantor of cross-strait stability,” he said.