Taiwan Will Reduce Annual Live Fire Exercises In July: Sources

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Taipei, May 24 (CNA) The live-fire component of this year’s Han Hanang exercises in Taiwan will be conducted with a minimum number of soldiers due to the recent surge in domestic COVID-19 cases in the country, military sources told CNA on Monday.

The Han Kuang exercises, which include table and live fire exercises, are held annually to test the country’s ability to repel a possible military attack by China.

This year’s table drills, aimed at improving decision-making and combat management skills of military commanders, took place April 23-30, while live fire drills are scheduled to begin on July 12 and are scheduled to last five days.

Military sources say the live-fire drills are on schedule despite the nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert issued on May 19 due to a surge in domestic COVID-19 cases.

However, in order to reduce the risk of cluster infections, the military will conduct the live fire exercises with as few soldiers as possible and test the tactics and strategies derived from the table exercises.

In addition, media coverage or VIP watching of the exercises is not allowed this year as they are banned for all civilians, the sources say.

The military had planned to allow media coverage of a jet fighter landing exercise on a runway in Pingtung County and an anti-landing exercise on a beach area.

Ministry of Defense spokesman Shih Shun-wen (史順文) was asked for comment, saying plans for the exercises are still being discussed and the military will make adjustments based on the situation on the ground.

Taiwan has been reporting hundreds of locally transmitted COVID-19 cases daily for more than a week after health officials identified two large clusters, one at an airport hotel in Taoyuan in late April and one in a red light district in Taipei in mid-May.

As of Monday, 590 domestic cases of COVID-19, five newly imported and six deaths were reported in Taiwan.

(By Matt Yu and Emerson Lim)

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