October 17, 2013 By Christopher P. Isajiw - China Power
As part of its Pacific pivot, the United States has been making substantial increases in its Asia-based forces, including a bolstering of the U.S. Marine Corps amphibious combat capabilities. One hypothetical scenario that the Navy and Marine Corps train for would be a strike against Taiwan and a possible amphibious combined force invasion carried out by China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). A key spearhead of any such action would be the PLA Marines.
The PLA Marines are at present a relatively small amphibious assault force, numbering just two brigades with roughly 6,000 men each. Nevertheless, they are reinforced by naval and air power, amphibious artillery and armor. The PLA Marines are considered an elite special operations force, and theoretically therefore “punch above their weight class.” They are well trained and well equipped, using both the latest Chinese and Russian technology. They are trained for amphibious and airborne assault operations. While they were originally designed to be a much larger mass invasion force, they have quickly evolved into a rapid deployment invasion force specifically tasked for assault operations. Despite this, however, the PLA Marines are still very much a work in progress (as is arguably the PLA Navy in general), and currently lack the full necessary capabilities for a cross-Strait invasion of Taiwan. They are, however, rapidly developing this capability as part of overall Chinese military strategy.