A pattern for recent Indo-Pacific military reports is that Taiwan Republic has placed more emphasis on munitions and logistics (at least in public). All of the major players, US, Japan, Taiwan Republic, and Australia, are behaving as if a Chinese communist invasion to annex Taiwan is likely – and, that such an attack would not be “contained.”
On the policy side, American rhetoric – unusually blunt, urgent, public, dire – remains not yet matched by action. The US government is a giant, lumbering, mega bureaucracy – often at war with itself or worse, one part not aware of what another part is doing. Urgent warnings of a possible Chinese invasion is contradicted by delays in weapons deliveries to Taiwan – and the continued arguments over which weapons are “asymmetrical” or not are not helpful, or most important, the US has not yet fully committed to and bringing along other democratic allies, to take the Chinese invasion of Taiwan off the table as an option for Beijing – joint maneuvers, integrated training, counter-intelligence and intelligence, and most importantly, helping the democratically elected civilian leaders of Taiwan Republic reform their China KMT dictatorship legacy upper national security and intelligence establishment.
The best recent sign is that the purposeful leak of US-Taiwan cooperation in arms manufacturing did not lead to public denial or backtracking. Anyone used to the US Taiwan policy failures of the 1980s and 1990s would have expected that. The struggle against the Chinese communists is an all-domain global struggle, for which the military is an important portion – trade, technology, semiconductors, agriculture, education, etc. are all battlefields. If both sides proceed wisely with the arms manufacturing plan, it should speed up the delivery of key munitions to Taiwan, while integrating Taiwan into the US-led global arms supply chain. Not spoken and a guess on my part: If you study how the Chinese communists defeated the China KMT 1945-1949, you would be pretty worried about whether the top-level Taiwan-manufactured missiles and radars have been compromised by communist infiltration. I hope a part of this collaboration is a US-led effort to assist Taiwan in filtering out this important counterintelligence effort. Foreign media have marveled at how the Taiwanese do not appear alarmed by repeated Chinese communist threats to invade – a complicated issue for which I only have guesses/theories – what I have noted is that Taiwan as a nation does not behave in terms of operational security as if it has a gigantic communist neighbor dedicated to annexing it.
Two final points. First, whatever anyone means by “asymmetrical” – Stingers and Javelins will do nothing for Taiwan Republic without integrating Taiwan into a US-led regional security scheme. How the US, Taiwan, Japan, and other democratic allies design the specifics of this plan, balancing what will deter and deny a Chinese invasion, without being needlessly careless diplomatically, is the main task at hand. Second, beyond a long-delayed democratic reform and modernization of the top Taiwan national security establishment, what the US and Japan can assist the most in is Taiwan’s decades-delayed improvement of its naval surface fleet. Taiwan’s navy is lost, directionless, and decades late in the AEGIS/VLS realms. Having watched this for decades, I just don’t see forces within the Taiwanese navy, or Ministry of National Defense, or the civilian democratically elected leaders who have the expertise or the power to nudge the surface fleet along. 27.10.2022
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