The M1A2 Abrams Tank (also known as the Abrams Tank) could play an important role in defending Taiwan against Chinese Communist aggression.
Taiwan plays a pivotal role in the U.S. defense strategy against the Chinese Communist Party. In the face of aggressive harassment of Taiwan by the Chinese Communist Party, some senior U.S. military generals and members of Congress believe that the possibility of the Chinese Communist Party using force against Taiwan is high. Experts say a “tripwire” (a small military force that acts like a tripwire and could trigger a larger military force to move in), a small U.S. Army armored unit deployed in Taiwan, is an option to deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
The situation in the Taiwan Strait has become tense since Biden took office as president. Since January 20, Chinese military aircraft have repeatedly intruded into Taiwan’s airspace, with as many as 20 aircraft disturbing Taiwan; in early April, a formation of the Chinese Liaoning ship will conduct training activities off eastern Taiwan, and the Chinese military announced on April 5 that it will “routinely organize” similar exercises and training activities as planned. The U.S. Navy has sent the USS Roosevelt carrier battle group into the South China Sea several times and conducted large military exercises with multinational maritime forces in the South China Sea as a deterrent to the Chinese Communist Party.
Ma Zhenkun, director of the Institute of Chinese Communist Party Military Affairs at National Defense University in Taiwan, said on April 6 that the powder keg of war is all around the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan has three levels of importance to the United States
Geographically, Taiwan is the anchor of the first island chain, which U.S. strategic planners have identified as the best location to check the Chinese Communist Navy.
Economically, Taiwan is an electronics powerhouse, home to the world’s leading manufacturer of advanced semiconductors and the headquarters of the company that assembles iPhones.
Politically, Taiwan is one of Asia’s most prominent democracies, with outstanding achievements in education, civil liberties and health care, as reflected by its success in containing the spread of the Chinese Communist virus last year.
A Communist attack on Taiwan across the strait is a possibility. The U.S. Army would need to intervene.
The Chinese Communist Party has been investing heavily in military development, and with Taiwan’s proximity to mainland China, the possibility of a Communist attack on Taiwan across the strait is a real possibility. In recent weeks, both the outgoing and incoming commanders of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command have told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the possibility of a Chinese military attack on Taiwan would be the most concerning and worrisome thing in the Indo-Pacific waters, and that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan could be imminent.
The first island chain consists of a group of islands including Taiwan, Okinawa and the Philippines, which the Communist Party sees as its first line of defense. Beijing’s “anti-access/area denial” strategy aims to push U.S. forces out of the East China Sea and South China Sea within the first island chain.
In response to the U.S. policy of protecting Taiwan, Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute and CEO of Source Associates, recently wrote on Forbes.com that on the one hand, the United States sells more weapons to Taiwan than to the rest of the world combined, from Abrams tanks to F-16 fighter jets to the Harpoon. to Harpoon anti-ship missiles, all aimed at helping Taiwan defend itself against Chinese Communist attacks.
On the other hand, the United States has made no formal commitment to defend the island nation and withdrew its last troops from Taiwan after establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979. Thus, while the ROC government’s military strategy assumes that the United States will respond if Beijing attacks, it is not yet known whether it will do so in a timely manner.
In his article, Thompson refers to a military assessment written by Brian J. Dunn for Military Review last year. The report said it would not take long to get U.S. air or naval forces on the island, but Dunn argued that what Taiwan really needs is U.S. armored brigades to support Taiwan’s small ground forces once Chinese Communist forces land on the island.
While anyone recognizes the value of U.S. air and naval forces in such a fight, the probability of a successful CCP invasion would become greater without the presence of U.S. ground forces. Dunn proposed that six fully armored brigades must be part of the U.S. response to the CCP’s plan to attack Taiwan. But a force of that size could not be stationed on the island of Taiwan without destroying what little tenuous relationship there is with Beijing.
Installing a U.S. Army “tripwire” armored unit in Taiwan
In the article, Thompson explores options for getting U.S. heavy armored ground forces in place on Taiwan in time for a Communist invasion, provided U.S. forces cannot be stationed there.
One tried and true solution, he writes, is to station a much smaller but highly capable force in Taiwan as a “tripwire” to demonstrate U.S. commitment to Taiwan’s defense. A U.S. armored brigade of about 5,000 soldiers plus supporting artillery and air defense units would probably be sufficient.
By operating in concert with Taiwan’s indigenous forces, the article said, such a deployment could delay the Chinese Communist forces from achieving a landing and reaching their tactical objectives until larger U.S. ground forces arrived to reinforce them.
“The primary purpose of stationing such a force is not to defeat the CCP landing attack force, but to force the CCP forces to engage U.S. forces as early as possible.” Thompson said.
He then explained the reason for doing so: Engaging U.S. forces from the outset of a cross-sea assault would give Beijing pause to consider the possibility of an escalation of force against Taiwan, just as U.S. “tripwire” forces in Germany during the Cold War forced Moscow to face the dangers of a broader war.
“Washington and its NATO allies have recently established ‘tripwires’ in the Baltic states, and some strategists see the U.S. military presence in South Korea as a ‘tripwire’ as well.” In the article, Thompson said, “The basic idea here is not to station a large number of troops in one place; the presence of small units signals to the enemy that they are determined to enter the war.”
He said the U.S. Army armored brigade, the most important ground force operating in the U.S. Army, is a formidable combat force in its own right, but it would be even more powerful to signal to Beijing that the U.S. government has no intention of abandoning Taiwan.
The U.S. Army currently has 15 armored brigades (10 active and five in reserve), and Thompson said having a brigade continuously on the island of Taiwan would go a long way toward being prepared to fight in concert with local forces.
In concluding the article, Thompson said that Beijing would, of course, protest strongly against any such action, though that makes it difficult for it to claim the moral high ground, given that Beijing has never been able to fulfill its commitments to the United States on a range of issues.
“Thus, using the U.S. military as a ‘tripwire’ to stop Communist aggression against Taiwan could be an effective way for the Biden administration to avoid facing a major war.” He said.