US-Taiwan long-overdue military planning and exercises were voted on

WASHINGTON — Good news on Taiwan’s defense comes from the US. After a delay in military equipment worth almost $19 billion, Washington decided to wake up and vote on a law important to Taiwan’s defense. The US Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA] for the fiscal year 2023 by a vote [83-11].

Taiwan buys over-the-horizon subsonic AGM-84 AShMs and radars
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Passage of the law means that the US is committed in three key areas. First, Washington must strengthen Taipei’s defense capabilities in the event of an attack by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army [PLA]. Second, the US must rapidly increase capabilities in the event of such an attack. Third, but not least, the long overdue joint planning and exercises between Taiwan and the US have already been voted on and are underway.

$2 billion each year

The draft NDAA also says Washington will finance Taipei with $2 billion in military equipment. annually. The US has committed to making this investment happen every year over five years. However, there are conditions – Taiwan must prove that it is also increasing its defense spending. Military experts and financiers say that if all conditions are met, it would constitute the most consistent US legislation on Taiwan since the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.

However, the newly adopted law can solve one of the most pressing problems in recent years. Delay in supplying arms to Taiwan. These supplies are estimated to be worth close to $19 billion. The US official says the reason is insufficient industrial capacity and a sluggish bureaucratic process. Examples of major delays in deliveries to Taiwan are the ordered Harpoon anti-ship missile systems, as well as the Javelin and Stinger anti-tank missile systems, which have been in place since 2015.

US confirmed: 5,000 ATGMs Javelin arrive in Ukraine on May 6
Image: US Army/Sgt. 1st Class Ben Houtkooper

Seeing and analyzing the war in Europe between Ukraine and Russia, the Pentagon realizes that the biggest advantage to winning a war is having a stockpile of ammunition. For this reason, the law envisages the USA creating exactly such a regional stockpile of ammunition, which, in the event of a war between Taiwan and China, will quickly begin to run out.

Joint cooperation

But perhaps the most important thing adopted in the new law is joint cooperation, training, and planning of military operations. It turns out that interoperability between Taiwan and the US is currently at a very low level. This must be changed through joint military integration. Currently, military cooperation between Taiwan and the US is defined as deconfliction, ie. let’s stay away from each other. In the event of a possible war between Taiwan and China, this de-conflict positioning is in favor of Beijing and highly ineffective. A shift to “coordinated” or even “integrated” levels of cooperation in multiple areas of war is therefore planned.

This means that the US will help Taiwan increase its operational readiness by conducting joint training and exercises in the conflict area. At the same time, the US will need to increase its interoperability in all domains of war. I.e. dozens of tabletop exercises, rotational deployments, and joint exercises are coming up in the coming months and years.

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Photo credit: Army Recognition

Last but not least, communication between military strategic planning during the war should be increased between the two partner nations. The US and Taiwan are to jointly identify gaps in the Asian island nation’s capabilities. When these are identified, it will be easier to improve and increase the capabilities of the Taiwan Army to wage a competitive battle with the People’s Liberation Army of China. In this part, the NDDA envisages that Taiwan’s internal resilience and civil defense will also be drastically improved.

The newly adopted law also provides for Taiwanese officers to be trained, as well as a significant part of the personnel of the Taiwanese army. It is a tool that will build a valuable bond between American and Taiwanese soldiers.

I.e. The NDAA ultimately built on mistakes made in Ukraine, military and political experts say. This is certainly very good news for Taiwan.

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