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DEFENSE/2024 Han Kuang focuses on 24/7 drills, decentralized command, ROE: Source

06/23/2024 03:12 PM
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Military personnel engage in a 2023 drill in this CNA file photo
Military personnel engage in a 2023 drill in this CNA file photo

Taipei, June 23 (CNA) The upcoming live-fire segment of Taiwan's annual Han Kuang military exercises will focus on testing the troops' responses to decentralized command, updated Rules of Engagement (ROE), and 24/7 operational scenarios, a military source said Sunday.

The Han Kuang exercises, the nation's largest-scale military drills, are held annually in two stages. This year's 40th edition began with the tabletop war games phase, conducted from April 19 to 26.

The live-fire exercise component is scheduled to take place from July 22 to 26, according to the Ministry of National Defense.

An unnamed military source told CNA that this year's live-fire exercises will prioritize tests on troops' capabilities to fend off Chinese invasion 24/7, grassroot troops' preparedness to launch counterstrikes individually, and troops' ability to follow updated ROE during counterstrikes.

According to the source, in previous years, the five-day live-fire portion of the Han Kuang exercises was primarily conducted during the daytime. However, this year, drills will also be held at night to test the armed forces' 24-hour defense capabilities.

"The enemy could strike at any time of the day," the source explained.

In addition, the live-fire component will test the military's decentralized command structure, meaning allowing each grassroot troop unit to individually make its own judgment after losing contact with the central command during wartime.

The aim is "to make sure each unit can fight independently in real battlefield," according to the military.

A female soldier participate in the 39th edition of the annual Han Kuang military exercises in 2023. CNA file photo
A female soldier participate in the 39th edition of the annual Han Kuang military exercises in 2023. CNA file photo

As part of the tests on decentralized command, the exercises will also check if each unit will be following an updated ROE when engaging with invading enemy troops even when losing contact with the central command, the source said.

The ROE was revised and released in 2023, amid repeated incursions into Taiwan's air defense identification zone by Chinese warplanes, drones and balloons.

Each solider will be given an ROE instruction telling them under what kinds of scenario they are authorized to use weapons and ammunition to launch counterattacks, the source said.

Also, unlike in previous editions of Han Kuang, this year there will be fewer live-fire exercises open to the media.

Previously, the military allowed media access to parts of the live-fire exercises and invited senior government officials, including the president, to oversee them.

The purpose of this practice was to keep the public informed about the latest developments in Taiwan's armed forces and to assure them that the troops are capable of defending the nation.

However, according to the source, this practice serves little practical purpose in terms of war preparation, beyond being a display for the media.

Tanks are deployed during the 39th edition of the annual Han Kuang military exercises in 2023. CNA file photo
Tanks are deployed during the 39th edition of the annual Han Kuang military exercises in 2023. CNA file photo

This year, the military will focus on rigorously testing the troops by simulating a variety of scenarios that could occur if a cross-strait war breaks out, all without prior warning, the source said.

This will serve as actual tests of armed forces' emergency response capabilities, the source added.

The Han Kuang exercises have been held annually since 1984 to test Taiwan's combat readiness in the face of a possible Chinese invasion.

(By Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh)

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