Taiwan dispatching military officials to NATO defense college in Rome

Taiwan's defense ministry has revealed that its senior military officials have been periodically dispatched to an international military college for NATO nations in Italy.

The disclosure came as the ministry invited the press to an air force exercise held at Hsinchu Air Base in northern Taiwan on Wednesday.

Reporters filmed French-built Mirage 2000 fighter jets taking off and armaments, including missiles, the jet is equipped with.

Members of the media interviewed three senior military officials at the base. Of them, Lieutenant Colonel Wu Bong-yeng said he attended a course at the NATO Defense College between mid-2021 and January 2022.

Wu said he studied the same six-month curriculum as other officers from NATO member nations and partner countries.

He said the course was an academic exchange, not a military exchange, and that he had spirited debates over Russia's relations with Ukraine as well as the Indo-Pacific region.

The lieutenant colonel said in line with the ministry's policy, an official is dispatched to the college to attend the same course each year. He said the program has been in place for six or seven years.

Taiwan's military is known for its cooperation with its US counterpart. Wu's comments detailing Taiwan's ongoing exchange with NATO marks a rare disclosure.

Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Taiwan last week for talks with President Tsai Ing-wen.

He later told reporters European countries could join training exercises with Taiwan's military forces.