In the first days of October, the Chinese military sent more than 150 aircraft, including bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons, into Taiwan’s air-defense identification zone, which isn’t territorial airspace but is still seen as a provocative move.

Amid that Chinese aggression, reports emerged that U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers and Marine Raiders have deployed to Taiwan and have been working with their Taiwanese counterparts since at least last year.

The U.S. hasn’t had an official military presence in Taiwan since 1979, when the U.S. officially recognized Beijing, but that doesn’t mean U.S. commandos haven’t been working with Taiwanese troops over the years, though that training has ebbed and flowed with U.S. policy toward Taiwan.

Although training rotations are usually not disclosed, American commandos have deployed to the region before to conduct foreign internal defense — or the training of allied or partner conventional and special-operations forces, including Taiwan’s.


The Secret Weapon of US Special Operations

Taiwan soldier shore beach landing amphibious exercise
Taiwanese soldiers during a shore-defense operation as part of a military exercise, September 16, 2021. (Photo by Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

When people think of special operations units, they think of door-kickers who can perform the toughest operations under the most arduous conditions. Those units do that, but they have also mastered many other mission sets that are valuable in peacetime, competition, and during war.

Foreign internal defense is one of them, and the Army’s Special Forces Regiment has unparalleled expertise.

Foreign internal defense is the bread and butter of Green Berets. During such overseas rotations, Green Beret teams work with and train their local counterparts, using their cultural knowledge and language capabilities to build rapport with their counterparts and ensure a smoother training experience.