Taiwan military to send non-commissioned officers to U.S.: source

04/13/2022 07:41 PM
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The Ministry of National Defense in Taipei. CNA file photo
The Ministry of National Defense in Taipei. CNA file photo

Taipei, April 13 (CNA) Taiwan's military will send non-commissioned officers (NCOs) to the United States to observe the training of their American counterparts later this year, with the aim of boosting the joint operations capability of the nation's armed forces, a military source told CNA Wednesday.

The source, who preferred to stay anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue, said an undisclosed number of Taiwanese NCOs will visit the U.S. military's Joint Readiness Training Center and the Asymmetric Warfare Group of the U.S. Army in the coming months, to observe how the U.S. military trains its NCOs.

Previously Taiwan's military only sent more high level military officers on such observation trips to the U.S.

However, the source did not disclose when exactly the NCOs will visit the U.S. or how long each group will stay there, saying only that it marks the beginning of a three-year-program which the military will review after its initial three-year-run.

The source said such trips will be extremely helpful for Taiwanese NCOs to learn how the U.S. trains its NCOs for joint military operations including different branches of the armed forces, which is crucial in modern warfare, especially given the multidimensional threat Taiwan faces from China.

Before the launch of the program, Ministry of National Defense (MND) Chief Sergeant Pan Wen-ching (潘文清) led a small group of NCOs to the U.S. late last year, the source said.

During that trip from Dec. 1-10, the group visited the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the Special Operations Command Pacific, and the 25th Infantry Division's Lightning Forge's Joint Readiness Training Center, the source added.

NCOs constitute the backbone of basic units in both Taiwan and the U.S. armed forces, and are increasingly depended upon to train troops and boost their combat performance.

Among the roughly 180,000 military personnel that make up Taiwan's military, around 90,000 are NCOs, according to a report the MND sent to the Legislative Yuan earlier this year.

Experts' views

Meanwhile, three defense experts CNA talked to applauded the decision Wednesday, saying it will make NCOs in Taiwan more professional and boost the combat preparedness of local troops.

Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), an analyst at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR), said previously only senior officers were chosen by the military to engage in exchanges with their U.S. counterparts.

It is a positive sign that the two sides are moving their defense exchanges to a more grassroots level, Su said.

Unlike military officers who face more frequent rotation, NCOs usually stay in one unit for a longer period of time and are therefore more familiar with that unit and its weapon systems, Su said.

Chieh Chung (揭仲), an associate research fellow at the National Policy Foundation in Taipei, said NCOs in the U.S. military are considered the core of basic units.

In the U.S. military, senior military personnel are responsible for making decisions while NCOs are in charge of execution and offering professional guidance to soldiers, he said.

Shu Hsiao-huang (舒孝煌), another analyst at the INDSR, said Taiwan's NCOs usually only undergo training locally and do not have the chance to travel overseas to conduct exchanges with foreign counterparts.

Over the past year the U.S. has launched more exchange programs to enhance the combat readiness of the military in allied nations equipped with U.S. weapons systems, Shu added.

(By Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh)

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