China to Increase Marines Personnel by 400%: Report
China wants to expand its marines personnel from about 20,000 to 100,000 to safeguard its maritime lifelines and growing overseas interest, experts revealed.
The expanded marines is part of China's plan to shift its focus from winning a land based on numbers to meeting a series of security scenarios using highly specialized units, South China Morning Post reported. Chinese President Xi Jinping will decrease the size of the People's Liberation Army by 300,000 towards the end, with cuts mostly coming from land forces.
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Currently, at least two brigades of special combat soldiers have been deployed to the marines, nearly doubling its size to 20,000, military insiders told South China Morning Post. The country will add a third brigade that will undergo a transformation such as special training and learning how to conduct amphibious operations.
"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 noted. China's navy, which has around 235,000 personnel, is also expected to increase by 15 percent.
Before, marines mostly operated in coastal areas as their role is limited by small numbers and basic equipment. However, today, the maritime force is poised to increase its central role in the military as China continues to defend its maritime rights, Liu Xiaojiang, a former navy political commissar, said.
"Besides its original missions of a possible war with Taiwan, maritime defense in the East and South China seas, it's also foreseeable that the PLA Navy's mission will expand overseas," Li Jie, a naval expert, said, noting that this includes safeguarding China's national security in the Korean Peninsula, its maritime lifelines, and offshore supply deports such as Djibouti and Pakistan's Gwadar Port.