Military Deception – Taiwan Hides Major Weapons in Plain Sight

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I recently wrote about how deception plays a major role in military operations even in the 21st century. All major powers engage in tactics and techniques to fool their enemies into thinking their forces are larger or more effective, and in places they may not be. Among other things, the Russians use an inflatable army.

Then there is the technique of hiding your forces in plain sight.

This is the technique Taiwan is employing in its most recent urban warfare exercise – known as Combat Readiness Week – which began October 26. The Drive notes that:

The lengths that Taiwan’s Republic of China Army goes to ensure its armored vehicles might survive a potential invasion from the Chinese mainland were made abundantly clear during the country’s latest series of war games. The recent Combat Readiness Week brought images of tanks and other armored vehicles hidden in urban environments using some ingenious camouflage methods, including hiding them under junk and making them look like civilian construction equipment.

The Republic of China (ROC) Military News Agency released photos, notes The Drive, showing M113 armored personnel carriers hidden under a highway bridge, covered in the foliage “that might grow through the cracks in these urban environments.”

Other measures to disguise military hardware in an urban setting included what appeared to be a Clouded Leopard 8×8 infantry fighting vehicle made to look like a bright yellow civilian construction crane. More unique techniques were displayed in photos showing at least one main battle tank — hidden among piles of scrap metal in what appears to be a junkyard.

The Drive further reported that the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense (MND) explained that “personnel from an unnamed ROC Army armored brigade had been tasked to attach suitable foliage to netting covering their vehicles, as well as to use urban features to provide visual cover.”

As with the Russian inflatable army examples in my previous article, this type of deception may not work against determined sophisticated foes beyond causing initial doubts and confusion. However, every bit helps. As the Drive concludes:

Should Taiwan one day have to face the might of the PLA in an invasion scenario, every single tank and armored vehicle would have to count. While the extreme lengths taken to conceal these vehicles during exercises may look unusual, this kind of camouflage could make the difference in the type of urban warfare scenario that Taiwan’s armed forces are prepared to fight.

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Paul Crespo

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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