Taiwan holds its first training for female reservists

TAOYUAN, TAIWAN: Strapped down with gas masks, soldiers crouched in a playground on Tuesday with guns pointed at their target in the first-ever attack in Taiwan reservist training for women as the island strengthens its defenses against China.
Beijing – which claims Taiwan as its take-one-day territory – has conducted several military drills around self-governing Taiwan over the past year.
Taipei’s Defense Ministry announced in January that it would allow more than 200 women for the first time to train as volunteer reservists as part of efforts to build up its forces.
“You may not see ‘Rambos’ here,” ministry spokesperson Sun Li-fang told reporters on Tuesday, after 14 former female soldiers took part in the five-day training program in the city of Taoyuan.
“But what you will see are our men and our first group of reserve soldiers who are ready to use their time to return to the barracks for training,” he said.
“I think it’s very important to keep our country safe and demonstrate the determination of the people to protect our country.”
Taiwanese men are required to perform compulsory military service and reservist training, but women can also volunteer to serve in the armed forces.
On Tuesday, the former female soldiers pulled gas masks over their heads, crawled on a playground, patrolled the streets of a temple and performed other mock defense drills.
“Toxic gas dissipated, clear to remove masks!” one of their officers shouted before they quickly removed their gear.
Reservist Tang Mi – who is a real estate agent – said “without a country, there is no home”.
“That’s why I’m here, because what concerns the country is everyone’s business,” said the 26-year-old.
Military analysts have urged Taiwan to do more to bolster its reserves and prepare the civilian population for a possible invasion, including allowing more women to train.
Some lawmakers have proposed including women in some form of compulsory service.
Tensions between Taipei and Beijing skyrocketed last year after China held massive military drills around the island in response to US House Speaker Nancy. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
Beijing last month staged war games simulating a blockade of the island to protest a meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Pelosi’s successor Kevin McCarthy in California.


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