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Taiwan's annual war game to test reservist mobilization

ROC Central News Agency

05/04/2020 08:42 PM

Taipei, May 4 (CNA) The 2020 edition of Taiwan's annual war games, the Han Kuang exercises (漢光演習), will test its ability to mobilize reserve forces at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the militaries of many countries, Taiwan's defense chief said Monday.

While regular training drills will still be part of this year's exercises, the mobilization of about 200,000 military reservists will be another focus, Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said at a legislative hearing Monday.

The annual Han Kuang exercises, first held in 1984, involve all three branches of Taiwan's military -- the Army, Navy and Air Force.

The war games traditionally begin with computer assisted tabletop exercises and conclude with live-fire drills to test Taiwan's defense capabilities against simulated threats from China.

This year's war games, however, will start with live-fire drills, scheduled for July, before proceeding to tabletop exercises, to be held in September, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced in April, without explaining why the sequence was reversed.

One possibility is that Taiwan is worried the United States would not be able to send a delegation to observe the tabletop exercises in the near future because of the COVID-19 outbreak and therefore decided to schedule them for later in the year.

A legislator speculated that the schedule may have been related to the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), the world's largest international maritime warfare exercise led by the United States, but Yen quickly said "no."

He did say, however, that Taiwan has expressed interest in participating in this year's RIMPAC, scheduled for August 17-31 according to the U.S. Pacific Fleet Command, and is still awaiting the U.S.'s response.

Meanwhile, Yen also said his office will consider postponing this year's Han Kuang exercises if more soldiers get infected with the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

A cluster infection recently occurred on one of three Taiwanese military ships that carried out a goodwill mission to Palau in March, resulting in the quarantine of all 713 people who took part in the mission.

(By Matt Yu and Emerson Lim)


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