America is actively preparing for war with China over growing fears of Taiwan invasion - and crucial piece of kit that could decide conflict hasn't even been built

Marines from the US and the Philippines carried out ominous war games Leaders fear China holds a significant advantage in the region  READ MORE: China and Russia may be working on a joint invasion of Taiwan 

The United States military is actively preparing to go to war with China over growing fears of an invasion of Taiwan.

Marines from the US and the Philippines have been carrying out ominous war games on small islands a short distance from Taiwan, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The exercises include deploying teams of marines from Chinook helicopters, readying unarmed assault rifles, and scoping out terrain that would hypothetically be used if conflict erupted.

The developments are a disturbing glimpse into the perspective of US military leaders as the hostile nation continues to threaten to invade Taiwan. Any direct conflict between the US and China could easily spiral into World War Three, with both nations in possession of nuclear weapons that could destroy the planet.

In anticipation of a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan, the US military has been carrying out ominous war games in the Philippines (pictured during a joint exercise with the Philippine military on May 6, 2024)

In anticipation of a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan, the US military has been carrying out ominous war games in the Philippines (pictured during a joint exercise with the Philippine military on May 6, 2024)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made no secret of his desire to 'reunify' Taiwan with mainland China, but has kept rivals in the dark over when he could deploy a surprise attack.

Taiwan, a successful democracy, says it has no desire to become part of China. The US has not formally-said it will defend Taiwan if China invades, but President Biden has indicated he'd deploy US troops to defend the island in the event of an attack.

Recently, China has made numerous moves that suggest it is preparing to invade, including just two days ago when the Chinese military encircled Taiwan.

Beijing said the war games were a 'strong punishment' for Taiwan following the inauguration of its new president, Lai Ching-te, with analysts seeing it as yet another blatant show of China's military prowess.

With this threat looming, the Wall Street Journal joined the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment in its training on the Philippine islands, its fourth trip to the region.

The regiment was only created two years ago to reform America's military presence in the region, and has been preparing on Hawaiian Islands and in California.

US forces gained access to several Philippine military bases last year, and the training exercises were carried out further north on a string of islands around an hour from Taiwan.

However, the war games have reportedly found one main, concerning conclusion: the US military needs ships to move marines between South China Sea islands, which have not even begun being constructed yet.

While the training exercises didn't include real bullets or missiles, the marines were preparing for what would happen if war broke out, including leaving the Chinook helicopters and fanning out across the islands as quickly as possible.

Moving around quickly and stealthily would be key to avoiding China's sensors and drones, which Col. John Lehane said was to 'complicate' the rival's decision making.

US troops hope that a series of quick, nimble moves from location to location would help strain China's military capacity and potentially buy time until further backup arrives.

'(China would) expend an awful lot of resources to figure out where we are and what we’re doing,' he said.

With stealth and agility the priority for the marine regiment, Lehane said the US military is 'continually refining the balance between what is the lightest package I can put there to reduce the logistics burden while still making sure that it is combat credible and able to fight.'

US military leaders have deployed at least four missions to the Philippines in recent months, with stealth and agility on scattered islands through the South China Sea a key priority

US military leaders have deployed at least four missions to the Philippines in recent months, with stealth and agility on scattered islands through the South China Sea a key priority

U.S. and Philippine marines wait at the airport of the Philippines' northernmost town of Itbayat, Batanes province during a joint military exercise on Monday, May 6, 2024

U.S. and Philippine marines wait at the airport of the Philippines' northernmost town of Itbayat, Batanes province during a joint military exercise on Monday, May 6, 2024

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made no secret of his desire to reunify Taiwan with mainland China, but has kept rivals in the dark over when he could deploy a surprise attack

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made no secret of his desire to reunify Taiwan with mainland China, but has kept rivals in the dark over when he could deploy a surprise attack

The outbreak of direct conflict with China would be tantamount to a world war to many observers, despite a reported understanding that Beijing would hold a significant advantage fighting in its own backyard.

President Biden has routinely said he would defend Taiwan if China launched an unprovoked attack, but carrying out a conflict in the various terrains of the region would be far more challenging in practice.

Some islands in the South China Sea are only equipped with small helipads, roadways fail to connect many coastal areas that would be prone to fighting, and China would be fighting within the vicinity of the majority of its military arsenal.

The marines were specifically training for the first stages of war, and were reportedly tasked with slowing down a potential Chinese invasion to allow other US military forces to prepare.

Using small drones and sensors, the marines would provide a front-row view to the rest of the military while being able to fire at China's military with a barrage of rockets.

The deployment of a small, covert group of marines at the front would serve as a tactical foundation in the event of war, Benjamin Jensen, a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the WSJ.

'The ideal case is that you have these fluid forces that are flowing up and down the first island chain, so you’re constantly forcing [China] to look for you,' he said.

'Every sensor China tasks to look for a Marine Corps littoral regiment is a sensor that isn’t tasked on another target.'

Jensen added that the idea would be to impose a 'tremendous tax' on China's sprawling intelligence apparatus, and that ideally, 'You want them to go on wild-goose chases.'

China routinely carries out war games in the region, pictured here firing a missile during a training exercise on the Chinese mainland in August 2022

China routinely carries out war games in the region, pictured here firing a missile during a training exercise on the Chinese mainland in August 2022

US marines carry equipment during a joint military exercise in the Philippines on May 6, 2024

US marines carry equipment during a joint military exercise in the Philippines on May 6, 2024

With China holding a significant territorial advantage in the region, island-hopping would be seen as a vital technique to combatting China's potential invasion.

During the recent war games in the Philippines, teams flew to three small islands north of the nation, across an area known as the Luzon Strait.

In the event of all-out war, the islands would find themselves in the center of the conflict, and the war games on the islands are a sign that US military leaders may see this as a possibility.

Lt. Col. Mark Edgar, who helped oversee the training, said the exercises are primarily to gather data and to help anticipate, and regiments 'do assessments on the islands all the time.'

'Everything from what those airstrips can support to what a port can support to what a beach can support,' he added.

The teams' work included everything from measuring roads to how much fuel they were burning, in efforts that took them to the northern tip of the islands in full view of Taiwan.

For an uncertain conflict, Edgar concluded: 'Nothing replaces putting a marine on the ground and actually looking at that terrain.'

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