A recent Marines drill was held with China in mind as Marines dusted off the kind of island-hopping tactics used to win World War II.
Marines practiced seizing Ie Shima with troops from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit joined by the 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, the U.S. Air Force’s 353rd Special Operations Group and the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, according to Military Times.
The Marines conducted a 600-mile-long raid to seize and airfield and then establish a forward base of operations.
“We are ready to rapidly seize ground and project lethal combat power,” 31st MEU commanding officer Col. Robert Brodie said in a Marine Corps statement. “The Indo-Pacific region is incredibly dynamic, so we prepare and train daily for real world crises.”
The kind of tactics being used could be needed if the U.S. ever confronts China militarily, defense and security analyst Paul Buchanan said, according to American Military News.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Marines are engaging in these sorts of exercises because that’s exactly the combat environment that they’re most likely to find themselves in, at least in the near future,” Buchanan said.
“You just want to make the Chinese think twice about asserting their claims,” he said. “That’s a clear signal to the Chinese that they’re not kidding around.”
Buchanan noted that a military collision between the U.S. and the vast Chinese army would be one of skill vs. size.
China’s is “not a battle-tested military, and that’s one advantage the United States has. The Chinese would be wading into a big problem if they confront U.S. troops in the field,” Buchanan said. “The U.S. has the most experience combat records of any developed nation.”
However, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing March 14 that America’s “competitive advantage has eroded.”
“This is the result of 17 years of continuous combat against transregional violent extremism and the damaging effects of funding instability. China and Russia have capitalized on our distraction and our constraints. They have invested in capabilities specifically designed to challenge our traditional sources of strength and have sought to undermine the rules-based international order that brought prosperity and relative peace for the last seven decades,” he said in a statement to lawmakers.
“By investing heavily in the space and cyber domains while expanding air and maritime capacity and militarizing disputed land formations, they are developing the ability to deny us access to the East and South China Seas. The intended effect is to weaken our alliance structure in the Pacific and allow Beijing to rewrite the norms, standards, and laws in the region,” he said.
But he noted that the United States contains China — so far.
“In the South China Sea and elsewhere in the region, we also fly bomber missions, demonstrating a resilient global strike capability that checks Chinese ambition and assures our regional Allies and partners. Throughout the Pacific, our troops exercise and engage with partners to signal our commitment and counterbalance China’s challenges to the rules-based order,” he said.
“If you look at the island chains and so forth in the Pacific as platforms from which we can project power, that would be an historical mission for the Marine Corps and one that is very relevant in a China scenario,” he said then, according to Stars and Stripes.
“They have intentions today of challenging the US military’s ability to project power in the Pacific and meet our alliance commitments,” Dunford said.
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