People's Liberation Army Marine Corps

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People's Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps
Patch of the PLA Marine Corps.svg
Active 1953–present
Country  People's Republic of China
Allegiance Communist Party of China[1]
Branch  People's Liberation Army Navy
Type Naval infantry
Role Amphibious warfare
Size 12,000 personnel
Engagements Battle of the Paracel Islands

The People's Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps (PLAMC) (simplified Chinese: 中国人民解放军海军陆战队; traditional Chinese: 中國人民解放軍海軍陸戰隊; pinyin: Zhōngguó Rénmín Jiěfàngjūn Hǎijūnlùzhànduì) is the marine corps of the People's Republic of China's People's Liberation Army Navy. It currently consists of two 6,000-man brigades.[2]

History[edit]

PLAN Marines based in Zhanjiang stand at attention during a visit by an American admiral in 2006.

The Chinese Marine Corps was originally established in the 1950s during the Chinese Civil War by Communist Chinese troops to conduct amphibious operations against islands held by the Nationalists. By the end of the Korean War, the Chinese Marine Corps numbered 110,000 people organized in eight divisions. However, the organization was disbanded in October 1957 when the leadership of China abandoned any plans to seize the island of Taiwan. Following the disbanding of the Marine Corps, the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) did maintain a naval infantry force, which consisted of several infantry and amphibious tank regiments.

In 1979 the Central Military Commission of China re-established the Marine Corps and organized it under the PLAN. On 5 May 1980, the 1st Marine Brigade was activated on Hainan.

In view of the growing tension between Mainland China and the Republic of China during the 1990s, the number of Chinese Marine Corps units was again increased. 1st Marine Brigade China was beefed up and rearmed. In July 1998 164th Motorized Infantry Division, 41st Army Group Army PLA had been transferred to the PLAN South Sea Fleet and became the 164th Marine Brigade, with its homebase in Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province.

Organization[edit]

The Marine Corps is subordinate to PLA Navy Headquarters, the Military Commission Joint Staff Department, and the chairman of the Central Military Commission.

12,000 Marines are based in the South China Sea. It is believed in time of war, up to 28,000 Marines can be mobilized. These two brigades possess combined arms units, including armor, artillery, missile, air defense, and logistics.

The two brigades are the 1st Marine Brigade and 164th Marine Brigade – both based in Zhanjiang (SSF); 12,000 personnel.

Each Brigade comprises all or most of the following:

  • 1 x Armoured Regiment (1 x Tank Bns and 2 x Armoured Rifle w/Type 05 Amphibious Assault Vehicle and Type 05 Amphibious Infantry Fight Vehicle),
  • 2 x Marines Bns,
  • 1 x Howitzer Bns w/PLZ-07 SP Howitzer
  • Missile Battalion (HJ-8 & HJ-73 ATGM's and HN-5 SAM's),
  • A mixed Engineer and Chemical Battalion;
  • Communications and Guard Battalion;
  • Field Maintenance Battalion;

PLAN marines can perform a variety of missions. They are considered elite troops, and are part of the rapid mobilization forces of the Chinese military. All marines are believed to receive the best training, which includes parachuting and amphibious warfare exercises. The marines perform two principal missions: serving as the fighting spearhead of any amphibious operation, to establish a beachhead of launch direct assaults against enemy targets inland via amphibious landing, and acting as a garrison or assault group in island chains, in particular potentially disputed territories in regional waters.[citation needed]

Equipment[edit]

PLA Marines of the 1st Marine Brigade and U.S. Marines fire the Type 95 Assault Rifle during an exchange exercise in 2006.

Personnel Equipment

Armour

Artillery

The modern day Chinese marine possesses the Type 95 bullpup assault rifle as standard infantry armament. The marine wears a blue/littoral camouflage uniform as standard dress. The effectiveness of this camouflage is unknown, and is thought to be ineffective once the marines penetrate deeper into urban and forested terrain. The marines also make use of GPS and night vision systems to enhance their fighting capabilities.

The PLA Marines are equipped with amphibious light tanks and armored personnel carriers. The Type 63A is the newest light tank in Chinese service. It is based on the hull of the older Type 63 (which in turn is based on the Soviet PT76 amphibious light tank). The Type 63A features a number of improvements, in particular the new welded turret which features much greater armour protection and the 105mm main gun (capable of firing standard NATO projectiles as well as the gun launched anti-tank missile). The marines are believed to have continued operating the Type 63 and the non-amphibious Type 62 light tanks as secondary units. The Type 77 amphibious APC was the standard armoured transport for the marines for many decades. However, new designs have been adapted from the army to complement these aging transports. These include specially modified versions of the Type 89 and Type 63 APCs, with enhanced swimming capabilities. The Type 86 (or WZ501) IFV is also in service with the marines. Based on the Soviet BMP-1, it is armed with a single 73mm main gun and mounts an HJ73 ATGM (with max range of 3000 meters).

For air defense, Chinese marines employ a mix of automatic and manually operated anti-aircraft artillery systems, as well as short range surface-to-air missiles. The marines have been seen operating the new Type 95 self-propelled air defense platform on an amphibious hull similar to the Type 77 APC. This platform is armed with four 25mm cannon with a short ranged SAM combination to achieve effective killing capabilities against low flying targets at short ranges. The Type 89 self-propelled 122mm gun is the first SP artillery system in service with the marines since 1999. This adds additional accurate firepower to the PLAMC.

Future[edit]

Equipment[edit]

In terms of equipment, the Chinese marines are receiving more modernized armored fighting vehicles. The latest example has been apparently a new light tank. This tank features the same turret as the Type 63A, but is on a lighter chassis that may perform better on water than the original Type 63A hull. Only photographs have appeared of this vehicle so far with no firm details. A second new vehicle is a new armoured recovery vehicle, which features a brand new hull. The exact status of both vehicles is still generally unknown.

Unlike the U.S. Marine Corps, the Chinese Marine Corps does not have its own aviation units and rely heavily on the support of PLA Air Force and Navy in direct support of the troops and airborne operations. Amphibious reconnaissance units of Chinese marines on tactics and doctrine, comparable to the Navy SEALs. Their members are enhanced training in special operations tactics, martial arts, field survival, parachute jumping, and assault landing. They, too, are experts in the diving business and diving, practicing regularly leaving the submarine through the torpedo tubes, and swimming long distances in full gear.

Deployment capabilities[edit]

Chinese marines in the next few years are expected to have greater deployment capability with the introduction of several new ships in the navy. The primary new ship in question is the Type 071 Landing Ship Dock, which could operate both high speed hovercraft to transport troops and vehicles, as well as helicopters. It has also been reported lately that China may sign an agreement in the near future to finalize the purchase of the Russian 'Zubr'-type air cushion assault transport, which could transport sizeable numbers of troops and equipment at speeds exceeding 50 knots.

With the PLAN's accelerating efforts to expand its capabilities to protect its territorial waters, it would be likely for the PLAMC to play a greater role in terms of being an offshore expeditionary force, similar to the U.S. Marines and the British Royal Marines.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The PLA Oath" (PDF). February 2009. Retrieved October 30, 2015. I am a member of the People's Liberation Army. I promise that I will follow the leadership of the Communist Party of China... 
  2. ^ "People's Liberation Army Navy - Marine Corps". GlobalSecurity.org. 

External links[edit]