Taiwan kicks off field exercises in Combat Preparedness Month

03/22/2021 02:39 PM
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File photo courtesy of the Military News Agency
File photo courtesy of the Military News Agency

Taipei, March 22 (CNA) Troops from various military units in Taiwan were mobilized early Monday morning to begin field training exercises, as part of the country's Combat Preparedness Month.

With the start of the field exercises, the public can expect to see military vehicles such as armored cars and tanks on the streets, military sources told CNA.

Combat Preparedness Month, which is designated every quarter, started on March 1 and is scheduled to be held in four stages -- battlefield scouting, tabletop exercises, field strategy and tactics, and field exercises, the sources said.

All of those exercises are geared ultimately toward enhancing the troops' integrated air defense capabilities, the sources said.

Taiwan resumed its quarterly Combat Preparedness Month two years ago, in response to increased nearby military activities by China.

One of the features of this month's exercises is the defense of Tamsui River, which connects the Taiwan Strait to the heart of Taipei City, where the Presidential Office is located, military sources said.

The exercises will also test the strength of Taiwan's combined arms battalions, by bringing together soldiers from the different military branches to form a unit capable of operating independently on the battlefield, according to military sources.

A combined arms battalion comprises soldiers from infantry and cavalry units; snipers; liaison officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force; and controllers of unmanned aerial vehicles and missiles.

This week, combined arms battalions will be deployed at strategic points along Tamsui River, at beaches in central and southern Taiwan, and in highlands, to test their combat power, counter strike, air defense and reinforcement capabilities, according to military sources.

Taiwan had suspended its Combat Preparedness Month in the 1990s but resumed in 2019 due to the increased nearby maneuvers of China's military.

Beijing has shut down official communication channels with Taipei and stepped up its military intimidation efforts since Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took office in 2016.

Cross-strait tensions escalated further 2016-2020 when the United States, under the administration of then President Donald Trump, increased its arms sales to Taiwan, began allowing visits by high-level officials to Taiwan, and passed some Taiwan-friendly bills in Congress.

Beijing responded by increasing its military maneuvers around Taiwan, including drills and sorties. In 2020, Taiwan recorded more than 100 incidents of harassment by Chinese warplanes and battleships, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

(By Matt Yu and Emerson Lim)

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