War game suggests US needs to bolster Taiwan’s defenses now to avoid heavy casualties

A Chinese invasion of Taiwan would bring heavy casualties not only to China and Taiwan, but also the US and Japan, one of Washington’s leading think tanks found after it conducted war game simulations, mimicking a 2026 Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

These war games, conducted by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), went through 24 scenarios of what an invasion could look like.

In the first three weeks of the invasion, more than 3,200 US forces would be killed in action, about half as many casualties as the 20 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. This excludes casualties that might occur in other theaters like the South China Sea. China would suffer the most casualties, losing about 10,000 in combat during the first three weeks of their invasion. An overwhelming majority of the 30,000-plus Chinese survivors on Taiwan would likely become prisoners at the end of the combat, according to the report.

Mark Cancian, the author behind the war game report, said the US needs to do more to bolster Taiwan’s security in the Pacific, saying the US cannot send weapons after the invasion like it did in Ukraine. ”Chinese air and naval capabilities are strong enough that they can prevent any reinforcements from getting on to Taiwan. So, Taiwan will need to have all of its equipment before the conflict begins,” Cancian told Fox News.

In this undated file photo, a Chinese PLA J-16 fighter jet flies in an undisclosed location.
(Taiwan Ministry of Defense via AP)

INSPIRED BY UKRAINE, TAIWAN SEEKS TO BOLSTER MILITARY PREPAREDNESS AS CHINA THREAT CONTINUES

Cancian said the US needs to speed up its military shipments to Taiwan, specifically long-range bombers with long-range anti-ship missiles. “Our inventory of those missiles is very shallow. We run out in just a couple of days. We need to build a lot more of those,” he warned.

Ninety percent of the coalition’s aircraft would be lost to Chinese missile attacks on the ground and not in the air. Cancian stressed building hardened shelters to protect the aircraft would be very important, calling out Andersen Air Force Base in Guam for having no hard shelters to provide protection for the aircraft. “The Chinese missiles would devastate those aircraft,” he said.

A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Type 10 battle tank fires ammunition during a live exercise at East Fuji Maneuver Area in Gotemba, Shizuoka, Japan, on May 28, 2022.

A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Type 10 battle tank fires ammunition during a live exercise at East Fuji Maneuver Area in Gotemba, Shizuoka, Japan, on May 28, 2022.
(Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

Japan is a crucial part of Taiwan’s defense. The US has bases on Japan, home to its attack aircraft. “They have relatively short legs. They need to get close to be able to affect the fighting over Taiwan. So the connection with Japan is absolutely critical to defending Taiwan,” Cancian said.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with President Biden in the Oval Office of the White House on Friday as fears mount that China could have the ability to invade Taiwan in the coming years. “Japan and the United States are currently facing the most challenging and complex security environment in recent history,” Koshida told Biden.

President Biden, right, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on Friday.

President Biden, right, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on Friday.
(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

FOR CHINA’S MILITARY PLANNERS, TAIWAN IS NOT AN EASY ISLAND TO INVADE

Kishida was accompanied in Washington by his foreign and defense ministers. The delegation hammered out plans to construct runways on uninhabited Japanese islands closer to Taiwan. Japan announced that it would buy more Tomahawk missiles and long-range cruise missiles from the US

Japan has committed to a historic increase in defense spending, 2% of GDP in the next five years, making it the third-largest defense budget in the world. This is a major break from Japan’s pacifist military strategy after World War II.

The US and Japan announced a new security agreement in space and a smaller, more advanced Marine Corps regiment with advanced intelligence and anti-ship missile capabilities to be stationed in Okinawa, Japan.

The 12th Marine Regiment already on Okinawa will transition to become the 12th Marine Littoral Regiment by fiscal year 2025. Although no new units will be added to Okinawa under the agreement, it will transform the 12th Marine Regiment into a smaller, more rapidly mobile unit. It includes a combat team with an anti-ship missile battery, a logistics battalion and an air defense battalion. This would reduce the number of Marines on Okinawa, which is currently about 3,400 Marines and sailors, to about 2,000. “The idea is that it will be able to contribute to this naval air conflict in the Western Pacific,” Cancian said.

A People's Liberation Army member looks through binoculars during military exercises as Taiwan's frigate Lan Yang is seen on Aug.  5, 2022.

A People’s Liberation Army member looks through binoculars during military exercises as Taiwan’s frigate Lan Yang is seen on Aug. 5, 2022.
(Lin Jian/Xinhua via AP)

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After a 2+2 meeting featuring Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and their Japanese counterparts on Wednesday, Austin explained the Marine regiments new capabilities. “We will equip this new formation with advanced intelligence surveillance, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as anti-ship and transportation capabilities that are relevant to the current and future threat environments,” he said.

The war games helped bring China’s capabilities to the forefront in an unclassified space. “For a long time, Chinese military capabilities were not very impressive. Their air and naval power in particular were weak,” Cancian said. “That’s not true now. They built both of these up to a substantial amount. So reinforcing these US capabilities is going to be important.”

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