Though it is well established that China is superior to Taiwan in terms of military strength, there have been questions raised on Taipei’s possible strategy in case Beijing attempts to occupy it by force. Among the most potent tactic come up by Taiwan is an asymmetrical warfare method known as the “porcupine strategy (doctrine),” which aims to make the invasion very difficult and costly for China. According to US defence official David F Helvey, the strategy has helped Ukraine resist the Russian invasion, reports The New York Times.
What is “porcupine strategy”?
This strategy focuses on solidifying a state’s defences to exploit the enemy’s weaknesses rather than taking on its strengths. It was first propounded by US Naval War College research professor William S Murray in 2008. While writing for the Naval War College Review, he explained that it is about building defences to ensure that Taiwan “could be attacked and damaged but not defeated, at least without unacceptably high costs and risks”.
How does it work? The porcupine approach has two defensive layers.
- The outer layer is about intelligence and reconnaissance to ensure defence forces are fully prepared. Behind this come plans for guerrilla warfare at sea with aerial support from sophisticated aircraft provided by the US.
- The innermost layer relies on the geography and demography of the island.
While the outer surveillance layer would work to prevent a surprise attack, the second one would make it difficult for China to land its troops on the island in the face of a guerrilla campaign at sea using “agile, missile-armed small ships, supported by helicopters and missile launchers”.
When was it adopted?
Taiwan adopted the doctrine in 2017 when the then-chief of the Taiwanese military forces, Lee Hsi-Ming, referred to it as the “Overall Defence Concept” (ODC). Under this strategy, Taiwan has stacked up large inventories of anti-air, anti-tank, and anti-ship weapons and ammunition. That includes unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and low-cost munitions like mobile coastal defence cruise missiles (CDCMs), which have the capacity to destroy China’s expensive naval vessels and naval equipment. It has also prepared its cities for guerrilla warfare in case the Chinese People’s Liberation Army succeeds in landing in Taiwan. In fact, buildings in Taipei can be turned into barracks. Taipei also has aircraft and anti-ballistic defence systems in its arsenal which can intercept ballistic rockets and inflict primary damage on invading powers.
Source- WION Explains