Winning: Taiwan Applies Ukraine War Lessons


February 6, 2023: Taiwan was impressed with how Ukraine defeated the Russian 2022 invasion, but Taiwanese leaders are still trying to determine how best to translate the Ukrainian experience into something Taiwan can use. The missing element appears to be the military training Ukrainians underwent between 2015 and 2021. This was in reaction to the Russian seizure of Crimea and some of eastern Ukraine in 2014. The unexpected rapid mobilization of Ukrainian troops persuaded the Russians to agree to a ceasefire that lasted until 2022. During the ceasefire Ukraine reformed, retained and rearmed its military. That’s what Taiwan is now doing. The first step was to increase conscript service from three to twelve months. Next came changes to the training conscripts receive. The new training program concentrates on teaching Taiwanese to fight effectively using proven training techniques used by Western nations and now by Ukraine as well. China has also adopted many of these techniques but no longer has conscription and implemented the training program in a haphazard fashion. If Taiwan can implement the training realistically and thoroughly Taiwanese troops will have an edge if China attacks.

China has been reluctant to attack because such an operation is not guaranteed to work and failure costs China a lot more than Taiwan. If the Chinese attack fails, the Chinese communist government and supreme leader Xi Jinping and the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) are in big trouble because of the economic damage that will do to China. Sanctions and blockade imposed on China will be far worse if the fighting, or Taiwanese “scorched earth” tactics, significantly damages or destroys key Taiwanese electronic component manufacturing operations. Taiwan is the sole source for many of these components and losing that production will have far reaching economic repercussions worldwide.

Taiwan is seeking to reduce that dependence on production that takes place only in Taiwan by establishing plants in other countries to provide another source of these components. That is a work-in-progress that will take several years to complete. The military reforms follow a similar timeline. These reforms have to carefully translate Ukrainian experience and Western training methods into something that works for Taiwan. This requires cooperation between Taiwanese military procurement efforts and military reform.

The Ukrainian experience has already persuaded most Taiwanese that they could reliably defeat Chinese attack plans. Taiwanese also note that CCP rule in China is failing, especially since Xi Jinping reversed many of the reforms the CCP implemented in the 1980s to get the Chinese economy going and curb most government efforts to disrupt that economic growth. Democracies have similar problems but, because they are democracies have an effective way to fix things by electing new officials.




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