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Grenada invasion, Falkland Islands influence China to think about Taiwan

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  • In recent years, China has steadily increased its aggression against Taiwan.
  • Beijing is rapidly building an army capable of invading Taiwan, but it will still be challenged by such an operation.
  • Chinese strategists are studying how other countries have carried out similar operations, highlighting the conflict between the two US and Britain.

In recent years, China has steadily increased its aggression against Taiwan.

Beijing has repeatedly declared its intention to take control of the autonomous island through either peaceful means or military action, telling the world that China wants peaceful unity with Taiwan, but its neighbors. Preparing for the invasion of.

Although the Chinese military is rapidly powerful and advancing, Chinese military strategists are special in order to increase the chances of success, as they still face considerable challenges in carrying out such operations. Exploring other options, including the use of operational forces.

Importance of special operations

Chinese Air Force Special Operations Unit

March 3, 2015, a special airborne operation unit of the Chinese Air Force during training in China.

Xinhua / Huang Hui


US special operations forces fought their first battles in South Korea and Vietnam in the 1950s and 1960s, gaining valuable experience and creating many tactics, techniques, and procedures for later generations of commandos.

The US campaign against terrorism in the Middle East was a modern demonstration of the effectiveness and usefulness of special operations forces. Whether it was a non-traditional war blitzkrieg on the first day of Afghanistan, a surgical counterterrorism operation in Iraq, or an onslaught against ISIS. , American special operations forces played an important and sometimes important role, and their actions were not overlooked by US enemies.

Special operations forces are a fairly new concept for the Chinese army, which has not fought a major war since 1979.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) established the first commando unit in 1988 and a large special operations unit in the 1990s. Due to the lack of sustained and diverse combat experience, the Chinese military is investing more resources in these units and incorporating them into large combined units. -War exercises.

At least since the early 2010s, Chinese military strategists have been studying special operations forces in other countries and how to fight them, trying to gather lessons from the Chinese military.

According to a review of Chinese military publications published by the Chinese Maritime Research Institute at Naval War College, the PLA could hire special forces in operations similar to those stipulated in U.S. military doctrine in operations against Taiwan. Highly sex. Amphibious operation.

The distinct role of special operations forces in the landing of the island, described by the Chinese, includes pre-landing reconnaissance and first strikes and raids.

In particular, according to reviews, Chinese military strategists are focusing on two conflicts in which special forces have made significant contributions to these roles. The Falklands War between Britain and Argentina in 1982 and the US invasion of Grenada in 1983.

Recapture of the Falkland Islands

Royal Navy Helicopter Marine Corps Falklands War

In June 1982, the Royal Navy’s seeking helicopter took off after transporting the Royal Marines to Darwin, Falkland Islands.

Paul Haley / Crown Copyright / Imperial War Museum by Getty Images


In a 2013 publication from the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences on Special Operations Science, the British Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS) “confuse and confuse the Argentine army in the Falklands War. Played a role. ..

Two commandos had infiltrated the occupied islands a few weeks before the arrival of the major British invaders. Meanwhile, they conducted a special reconnaissance operation to plan the order of battle and position of Argentina.

They also carried out direct-action missions to reduce Argentina’s defenses and discourage fighting — most of the Argentine troops deployed in the Falkland Islands were conscripted.

For three weeks, SAS and SBS patrols learned as much as possible about the terrain and the Argentine army and passed on that information to the upcoming traditional British troops. When San Carlos Bay was selected for landing, British Special Air Service “worked” in the area. Prepare it for the incoming army.

According to Chinese publications, British special forces helped “ensure a smooth landing” for British Marines and paratroopers.

Invasion of Grenada

Marine Jeep Landing Craft Grenada

On October 31, 1983, when the US Marine Corps withdrew from Grenada, the children waved to the Marine Corps with a jeep on a landing craft.

Betman / Getty Images


The lecture on the science of special operations also mentions the role of US special operations personnel in the 1983 invasion of Grenada, the Emergency Fury Operation.

This operation was a great learning experience for the US Special Operations Command and the entire US military.

The US operation was a “joint” operation, with several commandos playing a major role. U.S. Army Rangers raided and occupied major airfields on the island with bold low-level parachute descents, but Delta Force was unable to occupy significant terrain. SEAL Team 6 secured the governor’s residence, but it was almost overkill.

The campaign will provide many lessons about how the U.S. military conducted joint operations, and will encourage reforms that will lead to the creation of the U.S. Special Operations Command, making it an effective and efficient organization today. Was useful.

The Chinese author has linked the US’s swift victory in Grenada to the success of special operations forces in securing critical infrastructure such as government agencies, television broadcast facilities, and major roads.

China’s SOF vs. Taiwan

Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen 101st Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen reviews the exercises by the 101st Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion in September 2016.

Taiwan Cheong Wa Dae


If there is a potential invasion of Taiwan, Chinese special operations forces could play a similar role to British and American special operations forces in the Falkland and Grenada Islands. Attacks on Taiwan’s supply and communications lines.

According to a 2006 publication, Chinese military strategists were in the early stages of an invasion for special operations forces to “identify and disperse enemy operations forces” by attacking and disrupting critical facilities. I think it’s useful. National Defense University of China.

In a lecture on joint combat, a Chinese military publication, Chinese special operations could help by engaging in unconventional warfare and sabotage activities and enabling attacks deep inside enemy territory. It states that there is.

Weakening enemy communications will also contribute to another SOF role described in Chinese publications, a psychological warfare operation to “break the enemy’s determination.”

After all, these are academic military publications, not official doctrines. These help to understand how Chinese military strategists view special operations forces and their role in the potential invasion of Taiwan, but they should not be considered an operational plan.

According to reviews, the publication also makes little mention of the role of special operations forces after the first landing, such as counterinsurgency. This is seen as one of the biggest challenges China may face in trying to occupy Taiwan by force.

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a veteran of the Greek Army (the 575th Marine Battalion and the National Service of the Army Council), and a graduate of Johns Hopkins University.

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