The United States has initiated a significant military collaboration with Taiwan, featuring the deployment of US Army Special Forces for ongoing training operations on the island.

Under the provisions of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), U.S. military advisors have started to take up permanent positions at the Taiwanese Army’s amphibious command centers in Kinmen and Penghu. Their mission involves regular training exercises alongside Taiwan’s elite forces.

A notable aspect of this cooperation has been the American Army Special Forces’ assistance in training their Taiwanese counterparts to use the Black Hornet Nano, a compact military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). This collaboration also extends to the creation of operational guidelines and training manuals. The Taiwanese Aviation and Special Forces Command has proposed acquiring this micro drone directly from the U.S. through military sales avenues.

The NDAA outlines the framework for deploying U.S. personnel to Taiwan, focusing mainly on military training without immediate plans for the placement of civilian officials. Reports indicate a growing presence of the U.S. Special Operations Forces Liaison Element (SOFLE) in Taiwan, with plans to station small teams from 1st Special Forces Group‘s 2nd Battalion, Alpha Company. These teams, comprised of three Army Green Berets, are tasked with ongoing joint training missions at the bases of Taiwan’s 101st Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion and Airborne Special Service Company, acting as permanent training observers. This marks a departure from previous practices involving frequent but non-permanent visits to Taiwanese training facilities.

Here we are looking at the Taiwan Strait, only 81 miles wide at it narrowest point. Taiwan is on the right and mainland China is on the left. The Kinmen Islands, Taiwanese territory, are where some of our Special Forces will be located, only six miles from mainland China. In fact, the islands are clearly visible from Xiamen, a port city in Eastern China.

Since last year, the SOFLE has been operating out of a base in Taoyuan’s Longtan District, coordinating all U.S. special operations activities in Taiwan. This setup includes overseeing high-value equipment and training resources temporarily stationed on the island.

Su Tzu-yun, a defense strategy expert at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, highlighted the strategic value of this collaboration, pointing out the defensive prowess of the Green Berets. Their integration with Taiwan’s specialized amphibious reconnaissance units enhances the island’s capabilities to counter enemy incursions, with activities spanning several critical locations, including Kinmen, Matsu, Penghu, and the Tamsui River estuary.

This initiative marks a milestone in U.S.-Taiwan military relations, with Tsai Ing-wen acknowledging the permanent presence of U.S. troops in Taiwan for the first time in four decades in a 2021 CNN interview. The Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense, while refraining from commenting on specific details, emphasized the goal of these exchanges to bolster Taiwan’s training, readiness, and institutional capabilities, in line with annual plans to ensure national and regional security.