( Fox News ) – Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen says U.S. Marines are training on the island, confirming Fox News’ exclusive report Thursday.
“Yes, the United States soldiers are training on Taiwan,” Tsai told Fox News Friday when asked if she was aware the Americans are practicing on the island.
Fox News first reported Wednesday that the Marines are training a new drug interdiction force that could be deployed to Pacific nations in coming months.
The 200-member unit will focus on countering transnational crime in Southeast Asia. The new group — U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command/12th Marine Expeditionary Unit — will be the first in the nation to specialize in maritime operations and drug interdiction.
A senior U.S. official told Fox News that it is the unit, not the unnamed facility, where U.S. forces train.
The plans for the unit, first reported by Military.com, were approved by the current U.S. administration and will allow it to quickly deploy anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice.
At a previously scheduled news conference Thursday, the Chinese government swiftly slammed the plan.
“We oppose any country, including the United States, to establish new overseas military bases,” an unnamed Chinese official said. “We are resolutely opposed to such deployment and will continue to play a responsible role on the international community to oppose and handle this issue.”
The military units will operate under the first amphibious landing ship based in the U.S. since the Vietnam War, the USS Bonhomme Richard, which is scheduled to leave Norfolk, Va., as early as next month.
Sources told Fox News that the Marines’ training is aimed at countering a joint China-North Korea missile and nuclear weapons program.
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