The New Corps, in a Pacific War with China

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The (potential) coming war with China begs the question of whether the US is ready to confront the Chinese military in the Pacific Theater. If you’ve been reading this blog, there has been an ongoing theme and it’s US readiness to fight the NEXT war.

Since the coming war with China must needs be a Navy war in the Pacific, the Navy and Marine Corps are trying to re-structure to be prepared. It means a revitalized alligator Navy and Marine Corps. A new US Marine Corps Littoral Regiment is being formed in Hawaii — the first of its kind in the Marine Corps —  and that represents a major shift for the service.

The US sees the need to prepare for a high-tech missile war in the Western Pacific (WESTPAC).

Instead of training for low-tech counterinsurgency missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, which defined the Corps for nearly two dec­ades, Marines will become specialists in ship-to-shore capabilities in austere conditions to, among other things, sink ships at sea using missiles fired from unmanned vehicles that look like bulked-up Humvees. The unmanned vehicles will operate inside the range of extremely capable enemy missiles fired back at them while trying to move about quickly to avoid being targeted.

Additional Marine Littoral Regiments may be based in Japan and Guam, but the first Hawaii-based unit is expected to have 1,800 to 2,000 Marines carved out mainly from units already here, including one of three infantry battalions at Kaneohe Bay.

The new Hawaii unit is part of sweeping changes the Marine Corps wants to make over the next decade as it reorganizes its forces to deter war with China, but win if it comes to that.

The naval expeditionary force wants to shrink its numbers by 12,000 (186,000 are in the Corps now); get rid of its tanks, leaving that capability to the Army; and specialize in littoral warfare.

Divestiture of traditional capabilities would result in a potential savings of $12 billion — to be reallocated toward emerging threats posed foremost by China.

General Berger, USMC Commandant, has said that the redesign of the Marine Corps is driven by China’s pivot towards the sea, and that primary front which they have opened up has renewed great power competition. “Advances by China’s missile forces means that presumptive sea control is no longer something that the United States can rely on. We will compete for it.”

The expeditionary advanced base operations, or EABO, a concept being pursued to distribute a re-designed, highly mobile Marine Corps across Pacific islands and arm them with advanced missiles that can aid the Navy by sinking ships in contested choke points.

“Here’s what this means,” General Berger said. “Our peer adversaries need to perceive a bunch of small, mobile Marine units in their backfield with low signatures, bad attitudes and toolkits full of disruptive capabilities.”

The three-year setup plan for the Hawaii Marine Littoral Regiment foresees the use of the Navy Marine expeditionary ship interdiction system, or NMESIS, with Naval Strike Missiles that have a range greater than 115 miles launched from joint light tactical vehicles, including unmanned vehicles.

The Marine Littoral Regiment will utilize multiple small, long-range landing craft supported by Amphibious Assault Ships as its primary method of tactical and theater-wide mobility.”

New Amphibious Support Ship

(more here)

After the establishment of the new regiment, it will immediately begin training and experimenting with leased naval craft such as the stern landing vessel and offshore support vessel while a more permanent fleet of similarly capable small landing craft are procured.

The Navy has not settled on a final design for this new class of ships, but the concept seems to be sound and is generally agreed on.

Japan, an American ally in the Pacific, is following a similar course (very quietly) to be able to defend Japan from a Chinese invasion while also having the capacity of forward power projection toward China and North Korea.

27 thoughts on “The New Corps, in a Pacific War with China

  1. Still another reason to support reelection. The take over of the White House by the donkeys would likely spell the end of any modernization programs.

    1. You wonder what the Chinese bought when they gave Joe and Hunter Biden $1.5 billion? Likely it was an investment in the future. I don’t doubt for a minute that the donkeys would sell out the US to the Chinese at every possible level.

        1. Maybe if we’re prepared, it won’t happen? There’s a bright side.

          Nobody wants a war, me least of all, but the situation is clearly heading in one direction. I’m thrilled to see the USMC stepping up to meet the challenge. Clearly other measures are also underway with other service branches, but the Marine Corps lost its vision and became an operational component of the Army (not its best role).

  2. I’m glad to see them returning to their roots instead of trying to copy the army and the navy.

    I haven’t seen a decision about the Marines fixed wing aircraft, particularly the F-18. I think they should ditch it and leave high speed to the Navy and Air Force. I’m fine with them keeping attack and transport helicopters; I’m on the fence about their Harriers. They need to be able to operate all of these from ships.
    They also need to focus on small unit operations – the modern equivalent of cutting out expeditions and punitive expeditions and leave large scale operations to the Army and the Air Force.

    1. The USMC has retired the Harriers and is retiring the F-18 as well. They’re in the middle of transitioning to the F-35B Lightning II VSTOL. The squadrons will be off the big Navy decks and will be populating the LHA’s. The AH-1 Super Cobras are also being retired in favor of the AH-1Z, which has the general fuselage form of the Super Cobra but it’s truly a different aircraft.

    2. The F-35B is the replacement for the Harrier. I can see in the Marine projection of force that its purpose will probably be to suppress enemy (Chinese) air defense with its stealth and speed at the FEBA (Forward Edged of the Battle Area — Larry is that still a term or has it been superseded?) so that the helicopters and amphibious landing vehicles/ships can establish beachheads. The gateway is then provided for the Army.

      1. LL – I was reading and replying while you were replying. Though is it still FEBA or what now?

      2. I think that FEBA is still in vogue, but I’m a dinosaur. What ever they call it, the concept remains the same. And the F-35B can operate VTOL from beachheads, defended by the successor to CLAWS and theoretically by the Navy, off shore. A lot has been learned by amphibious operations in the past and I think that the USMC and Alligator Navy understand what is required. (train-train-train)

        I doubt that the LHA’s would want to give up their defensive F-35B’s to a beachhead. Flexibility remains in these scenarios, which is why those aircraft were built.

        1. “…theoretically by the Navy, off shore.” Remember that the Navy can ( and has ) always sail off and leave the Marines on their own.

          Thanks for the post.
          Paul L. Quandt

          1. That’s why I mentioned that the Navy might leave some F-35B’s to fight VTOL from the beachhead. I remember Guadalcanal.

  3. This is remarkable, gearing up to fight the next war instead of the last. Well done, USMC, and let’s hope it doesn’t happen.

    Not that the first bioweapon salvo hasn’t already been launched…

    1. The bio weapon botched, and they the Communists sent infected people from Wuhan around the world while defending Shanghai and Beijing. Which means that it deployed – after a fashion. We need to stand very firm with China, which President Trump is doing. A President Biden would be a dottering, corrupt, old fool with a devious protege waiting in the wings.

      1. Was this bio weapon (Chinese Wuhan Corona Virus) maybe just a trail balloon? Send it out and see how well they could spread it but not do too much damage on this go of it. This round will desensitize the rest of the world for the release of the next version when the numbers end up showing this was no worse than the flu or some other diseases that are running around. The next round will be much worse.

        My hypothesis is that is that if the Donkeys can’t cheat enough to get Slow Joe in office, the next round will be deployed just after the November election.

        1. I think that the domestically deployed/released plague caught them by surprise, and then they made a cynical decision to spread it. That’s what the data shows.

          As to the next election, you know that the traitors and petty tyrants will go insane unless the Republicans win majorities in both houses of Congress. With Paul Ryan gone, the anti-Trump people/traitors in the House will be able to MAGA.

          Whether the Chinese will unleash another bioweapon or not remains to be seen, but we have options to weapons of mass destruction deployments, and that is what it would be seen to be (under Trump). Under a Biden Presidency, they wouldn’t need to deploy a virus. We’d just haul down the flag.

          1. Agreed on the last point.

            Off topic, I think you said that your new blogsite is powered by WordPress. That some browsers reload the last view(?) and one has to do a reload to get the latest has been mentioned by a few. Have you looked at the plugin “Force Refresh”? I think it would cure this issue (or not).

          2. Found, selected, installed and now active. Thank you very much BillB.

          3. LL, I am still having to hit F5 and refresh the page. I use Pale Moon as my browser, would that be the reason? It is a Fire Fox derivative and I have not had any problems with it.

  4. I am not a military guy or analyst or anything like that- But IMO,
    If we get in a war with the chi-coms, we better be well and truly prepared for it to go no quarter, AKA nukes, very quickly.
    Thinking this would be a proxy war, like the ones we fought with the USSR, could be a fatal mistake.
    Right now, the over reaction to the bio weapon is hampering us-half the country is sitting in lockdown. – a second strike is not out of the question- when would they have a better time? And again, it would probably be ambiguous in origin, designed to cripple yet be hard to solidly attribute to them, so as to avoid immediate retaliation.
    We have too much nuance. In 1960 if the communists had unleashed a bio weapon on us we would have made them glow.

    1. 1960 is in the r/v mirror, but you’re right.

      The SSGN’s with their batteries of sub-launched cruise missiles have been patrolling nearly endlessly – very long patrols. Nobody wants to bring them to port because of their role in the coming war. One just docked after a record patrol length at King’s Harbor. They’re going to turn it around ASAP.

  5. I wouldn’t think China would land troops on the West Coast as the logistic line would be horrendous. Some type of missile attacks and possible nukes from subs?

    1. I don’t see a physical invasion by China. More likely regional attacks on US Naval ships on the high seas in the South China Sea region that they claim. If China wants it to go nuclear, they can take it in a different direction, But they’d loose a billion people.

      1. To the PRC, a billion or so people are ok to lose, as long as they are not the wrong people.


        1. A billion people means the end of agriculture and manufacturing, the entire infrastructure base, starvation and privation on a scale never seen before in the world, dams blown up, bridges wiped out, ports laid waste. No small thing even if the elite survive.

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