Taiwanese troops and armoured vehicles were deployed Thursday for a mock urban street battle in the latest drill preparing forces against China, which has long vowed to take the island.
On Thursday, soldiers from two platoons faced off in a simulated battle in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, firing at each other from houses and sandbag barricades as tanks rolled down a street in a mock-up town complete with signs for pharmacies and beer brands.
One soldier was seen throwing an aerosol bomb outside a fake O’Donoghues pub, sending pink smoke bellowing into the air, while dummy bodies of ‘dead soldiers’ were seen laying on the ground.
Democratic Taiwan lives under constant threat of an invasion by its authoritarian superpower neighbour China, which claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory to be seized one day – by force if necessary.
Beijing has ramped up military drills and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen – who regards the island as a sovereign nation – came to power in 2016.
Much of this has focused on urban warfare, which has become an increasingly key training subject for the military.
On Thursday, soldiers from two platoons in Taiwan faced off in a simulated battle, firing at each other from houses and sandbag barricades as tanks rolled down a street in a mock-up town complete with signs for pharmacies and beer brands
Soldier with machine gun takes aim during military drill in Taiwan
Urban warfare has become an increasingly key training subject for the military (Pictured: Taiwanese soldiers break a door for an assault against enemies , during an Army Preparedness Enhancement Drill)
Soldiers participate in a military exercise simulating an invasion by China, organized by Taiwan’s Army Infantry Training Command, in Kaohsiung, Taiwan (Pictured: A dummy soldier lays dead on the floor in the mock-up town created for the drill)
Taiwan is bracing for more Chinese military patrols this year, after Peoples Liberation Army incursions more than doubled in 2021, fueling concern about a clash
Taiwanese soldiers form a circle by placing their hands on each others’ shoulders before they take part in a demonstration at an army base in Kaohsiung
A soldier with a machine gun in position, during the Army Preparedness Enhancement Drill
A soldier donning sunglasses throws an aerosol bomb
Soldiers kitted out in military gear are seen brandishing huge and heavy weapons while waiting in position
Soldiers with face coverings stand ready with machine guns near a CM-34 armoured vehicle
Soldiers brandishing machine guns march in procession alongside a CM-34 armoured vehicle
Soldier removes a safety pin of an aerosol bomb before throwing it
Soldier dons face covering and glasses as he holds huge machine gun in Taiwan
Soldiers are briefed while participating in a military exercise simulating an invasion by China in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
‘Any future battle to protect Taiwan will be an urban warfare,’ Kiwi Yang, an instructor at Army Infantry School, told reporters, noting most of Taiwan’s 23 million people live in cities.
‘The Chinese communist troops’ battle plans will be invading and landing firstly from coastal towns, then the fighting will progress into more populated residential and commercial areas and lastly push into mountainous villages,’ he added.
With mountain ranges, changeable weather and limited beach landings, invading Taiwan would be a Herculean challenge for any military.
For decades analysts largely concurred that China simply could not pull it off but Beijing has dramatically closed the gap in recent years.
Sabre-rattling towards Taiwan has increased considerably under President Xi Jinping, China’s most authoritarian leader in a generation unafraid to flex the country’s geopolitical muscle.
Meanwhile, Chinese warplanes are making historically high levels of incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone and fears among Western allies are growing that Beijing could order an invasion, even if they consider it unlikely for now.
Taiwan Air Force pilots run past a F-16V fighter jet during a military training exercise in Chiayi County, Taiwan, on Wednesday, January 5
F-16V jet fighters taxis on the runway for an emergency takeoff training at the Air Force base
An F-16V jet fighter taxies on the runway for an emergency takeoff training at the Air Force base in Chiayi, Taiwan, as the Taiwanese military holds a drill for preparedness enhancement ahead of the Chinese New Year, amid rising threats from China
Taiwanese soldiers pictured on the move during the wargames drill on Thursday
Tanks roll in on the practice street battle amid pink smoke set off by aerosol bombs
CM-34 armoured vehicles approach the mock-up town
Soldiers infiltrate the mock city, which was set up for the military drill
A platoon of soldiers stand guard with machine guns in hand
Soldiers take aim from the rooftop during the military drill on Thursday
Soldiers take physical training, in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on Thursday, January 6
Taiwanese soldiers take part in a demonstration at an army base in Kaohsiung
Soldiers ignite a device for door explosion during the drill
A soldier throws an aerosol bomb as troops move through the purposefully built urban area
The city put up signs for shops and pharmacies to make the drill as realistic as possible
Taiwan recorded incursions by around 970 Chinese military aircraft last year, according to a database compiled by AFP, more than double some 380 carried out in 2020.
Taiwan’s Air Force also held military drills on Wednesday, involving its F-16V fighter jets.
China has also publicised multiple military drills simulating an invasion of the island.
Last month, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) deployed hundreds of troops and dozens of tanks in a mock street combat to seize Taiwan, according to Chinese state television CCTV.
A team representing the PLA took the city in just under three hours after removing landmines, roadblocks and other obstacles posed by the opposing team, the report said.