The US could suffer heavy casualties if China invades Taiwan, war games show

A Chinese invasion of Taiwan would bring heavy casualties not only to China and Taiwan, but also to the US and Japan, one of Washington’s top think tanks found after conducting war game simulations simulating a Chinese invasion of Taiwan in 2026.

These war games, run by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), ran through 24 scenarios of what an invasion might look like.

In the first three weeks of the invasion, more than 3,200 US forces would be killed in action, about half the casualties of the 20-year war in Iraq and Afghanistan. This excludes casualties that may occur in other theaters such as the South China Sea. China would suffer the most casualties, losing around 10,000 in combat during the first three weeks of its invasion. The vast majority of the 30,000-plus Chinese survivors in Taiwan will likely become prisoners of war at the end of the battle, according to the report.

Mark Cancian, the author behind the war game report, said the US must do more to bolster Taiwan’s security in the Pacific, saying the US cannot send weapons after the invasion like it did to Ukraine. “Chinese air and naval capabilities are strong enough to prevent any reinforcements from reaching Taiwan. So Taiwan will need to have all its equipment before the conflict starts,” Cancian told Fox News.

A pilot walks behind a Taiwan-flagged helicopter

The US would have more than 3,000 casualties in the first three weeks of the invasion, the simulation shows.

Navy soldiers stand on a landing craft during a military exercise in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

War games say China would lose 10,000 soldiers in the first three weeks of the invasion.


Navy officers stand guard next to a decoy missile system

War games report says US should boost arms shipments to Taiwan.


Japan has committed to a historic increase in defense spending.


Cancian said the US should step up its military missions to Taiwan, especially long-range bombers with long-range anti-ship missiles. “Our stockpile of these missiles is very shallow. We ran out in a few days. We need to build a lot more of them,” he warned.

Ninety percent of coalition aircraft will be lost to Chinese missile attacks on the ground, not in the air. Cancian emphasized that building hardened shelters to protect the aircraft would be very important, citing Andersen Air Force Base in Guam that there are no hard shelters to protect the aircraft. “Chinese missiles would destroy these aircraft,” he said.

Japan is a critical part of Taiwan’s defense. The US has bases in Japan where its attack aircraft are located. “They have relatively short legs. They need to get closer to be able to influence the battles for Taiwan. Therefore, the connection with Japan is absolutely critical to the defense of Taiwan,” Cancian said.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with President Biden in the Oval Office of the White House on Friday, as fears grow that China could have the ability to invade Taiwan in the coming years. “Japan and the United States are currently facing the most challenging and complex security environment in recent history,” Koshida told Biden.

Kishida was accompanied to Washington by his foreign and defense ministers. The delegation drew up plans to build runways on uninhabited Japanese islands closer to Taiwan. Japan says it will buy more Tomahawk missiles and long-range cruise missiles from the US

Japan has committed to a historic increase in defense spending of 2% of GDP over the next five years, making it the third largest defense budget in the world. This is a significant break from Japan’s post-WWII pacifist military strategy.

The US and Japan announced a new space security agreement and a smaller, more advanced one marine corps regiment with advanced intelligence capabilities and anti-ship missiles to be stationed in Okinawa, Japan.

The 12th Marine Regiment already in Okinawa will convert to become the 12th Marine Regiment by fiscal year 2025. While no new units will be added to Okinawa under the agreement, it will transform the 12th Marine Regiment into a smaller, faster Mobile Unit. It includes a battle group with an anti-ship missile battery, a logistics battalion and an air defense battalion. That would bring the number of Marines in Okinawa, currently about 3,400 Marines and sailors, to about 2,000. “The idea is that it will be able to contribute to this aeronautical conflict in the Western Pacific,” Cancian said.

After a 2+2 meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and their Japanese counterparts on Wednesday, Austin explained the new capabilities of this Marine regiment. “We will equip this new formation with advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as anti-ship and transport capabilities relevant to the current and future threat environment,” he said.

The war games have helped bring China’s capabilities to the fore in an unclassified space. “For a long time, Chinese military capabilities were not very impressive. Their air and naval power in particular were weak,” Cancian said. “That’s not true now. They built both up to a significant amount. So strengthening those US capabilities will be important.”