Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (C) at a ceremony honoring the island's airmen. Photo: Handout
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (C) at a ceremony honoring the island's airmen. Photo: Handout

Soldiers in Taiwan are to get increased training to boost their combat readiness to be prepared if China makes a move to invade the island nation.

Taiwanese soldiers can expect less R&R time as it has been reported that the island’s defense ministry is mulling holding more drills and army-wide training – no less than one every three months – amid rising volatility in the Taiwan Strait.

The military plans to reintroduce a quarterly, month-long, army-wide training program from next year to boost combat readiness, according to Taiwan’s semi-official Central News Agency and the Taipei Times.

Prior similar arrangements were called off in the 1990s to allow more flexibility for different units in their training, when the mismatch in size and strength between the Taiwanese army and the People’s Liberation Army was not that striking.

Future unified training and drills every quarter will involve all military units and the three branches of the armed forces, sources say, yet details of the plan are still being ironed out. The revived program will be reviewed in December before a clear direction is determined.

Taiwan has already been honing the skills and tactics of its military at its annual Han Kuang anti-PLA invasion exercises since 1984 – with this year’s focus being “asymmetrical warfare.” Some observers on the island have expressed concerns about the wear and tear of equipment and fatigue on the soldiers if the Tsai Ing-wen administration wants to cram additional war-games into the already packed schedules of the military.

Some have alleged that the independence-leaning Tsai has been bluffing her way through Beijing’s saber-rattling, but she should have done a reality check before pressing ahead with her ambitious plan to ratchet up defense.

For instance, the small fleet of the Taiwanese Air Force is already reeling from attrition as its fighter jets have to take to the skies to intercept Chinese bombers and spy planes almost on a daily basis now that Beijing has turned its circumnavigations into a routine activity.

“It’s questionable that without drawing new recruits and commissioning new aircraft, the force has the capacity to further beef up training,” an opposition lawmaker was quoted as saying by the island’s media.