New military units join annual wargames for first time

Two Apache attack helicopters fire flares during the annual Han Kuang wargames in Taichung on Thursday (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s new combined arms battalions on Thursday participated in the annual live-fire Han Kuang military exercises for the first time, to demonstrate their combat readiness and the battle leadership qualities of their commanders.

The 22 combined arms battalions, capable of operating independently in the battlefield, were formed in September 2019 and are made up of soldiers and officers from different branches of the military, along with snipers, unmanned aerial vehicles and missile operators.

As part of an anti-landing drill, members of the combined units fired multiple rockets at simulated targets set up along the coastline of Jianan Beach in Taichung.

Taiwan’s Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDF) and F-16V fighter jets, alongside the Army’s, CM-33/CM-34 indigenous “Clouded Leopard” armored vehicles, as well as other land-based artillery, were also involved in the action.

M60A3 tanks in action (CNA)

Meanwhile, squadrons of AH-64E Apache and AH-1 Super Cobra attack helicopters, also fired hellfire missiles at their targets, in conjunction with the simultaneous movement of ground forces to repel invading forces.

Also at the annual wargames, Taiwan’s reserve forces were recalled to operational duty, for the first time firing 105mm M101A1 howitzers, artillery used by the military to support frontline infantry units.

The Jianan drill saw the participation of about 8,000 personnel from all three branches of the military.

Soldiers fire launch rockets at their simulated targets (CNA)

It also saw the active participation of about 800 reservists this year, 400 of whom are retired professional soldiers, according to the military.

Although reserve personnel have taken part in the Han Kuang exercises in the past, usually firing the 81mm and 120mm mortars, this time they trained on bigger and more precise artillery weapons, a military official who asked not to be named told CNA.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who observed the exercise on Thursday, said national security does not rely on humility, but rather on the commitment of the Armed Forces, which represent the core of national defense.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文, third left) is seen in full military fatigue (CNA)

Also that day, members of Taiwan’s Military Police Command led a joint simulated drill to repel enemy airborne troops from attempting to capture Taipei Songshan Airport, according to the Military News Agency.

The anti-airborne operation included the participation of units from the Air Force and Army, the agency said.