via The Diplomat.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is set to increase the size of its Marine Corps from about 20,000 to 100,000, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on March 13. According to unnamed PLA insiders and experts interviewed by SCMP, elements of the expanded Marine Corps would be stationed abroad, including Djibouti in the Horn of Africa and Gwadar in southwest Pakistan.Story here.
The PLA Marine Corps (PLAMC), part of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), has gradually been expanding its size over the last couple of years as its mission is slowly expanding from conducting operations in China’s coastal areas — including defending Chinese holdings in the East and South China Seas, next to preparing for a possible amphibious assault on Taiwan — to more global roles.
“The PLA marines will be increased to 100,000, consisting of six brigades in the coming future to fulfill new missions of our country,” a source told SCMP. The source also noted that two combat brigades were already transferred to the PLAMC, increasing the size from roughly 12,000 (two understrength brigades) to around 20,000.
Each PLAMC brigade is divided up into one armored regiment and two marine battalions. The brigades are equipped with ZBD05 Tracked Amphibious Infantry Fighting Vehicles and ZLT05 Tracked Amphibious Assault Guns. The ZBD05 is reportedly one of the fasted amphibious assault vehicles, capable of top speeds of 45 km/h in the water.
According to IHS Jane’s, China’s Ministry of Defense may is also considering
equipping its PLAMC brigades with the Norinco ZTL-11 8×8 amphibious assault vehicle.
As I reported in January 2015, China purportedly is expanding its amphibious mechanized infantry divisions (AMID) from two to four or from about 30,000 to 60,000 men. Each division is equipped with up to 300 armored and amphibious transport vehicles, including ZBD05s and ZLT05s, but also heavier main battle tanks and associated equipment.
Once again we're seeing everyone moving in an opposite direction from the USMC.
The Chinese Marine Corps is going to be an armored powerhouse. Meanwhile we're doing everything we can to strip our MEU's of anything bigger than a JLTV or MTVR. HQMC must be brilliant beyond description or their view of the future battlefield is way off. Since I'm screaming for armor now, that means that if I'm right the future will see our Marines filling body bags instead of winning battles.
The lust for aviation and the stubborn "stay the course because we're locked in a generational war chasing terrorist in the Middle East" will be the reason why the Marine Corps gets skull crushed in the battle against the Red Chinese.
The solution? Reinforce (Enhance) the MEU! Add more artillery, tanks etc...to its force structure. Start deploying with Mobile Landing Platforms as part of the current Amphibious Ready Group (an LHD/LHA, LPD, and LSD) or add another LSD to the mix (my preferred option). We can add firepower, Marines, armor and even additional helos to every MEU to make them almost a MEB(-) that can truly take ground and hold it against the advanced threats we see today.