The US plans to deploy between 100 and 200 troops to Taiwan in the coming months, which could quadruple the US presence on the island, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The move would mark the most significant deployment of US military forces to Taiwan in decades and risks provoking China. The US has sent military trainers to Taiwan since severing diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979, but the deployments were much smaller. The Journal report said the US presence in Taiwan consisted of about 30 troops last year.
The purpose of the deployment would be to train Taiwan’s military on US weapons and to prepare for a future conflict with China. US special operations forces and Marines have been sent to Taiwan for this purpose before, and the US National Guard recently began training Taiwanese troops as well, both in the United States and in Taiwan.
The small US military presence in Taiwan was always an open secret but was never officially confirmed until 2021 when President Tsai Ing-wen became the first Taiwanese leader to acknowledge US troops were on the island since 1979.
Also on Thursday, The South China Morning Post reported that Taiwan is planning to send at least 500 troops to the US for military training, a significantly higher number than Taipei has sent in the past.
A report from Taiwan’s Central News Agency said: “This marks the first time troops at battalion level, typically consisting of around 500 soldiers, will travel to the US for training — rather than platoon (25-60 troops) or company (80-150) level as in the past.”
The reports come after US and Taiwanese officials held talks on diplomatic and security ties in Washington DC. Such talks are usually kept private, but they were publicized to the media. A source told Central News Agency that the public nature of these new military exchanges is intentional.