Recently, more than 10,000 Chinese marines and regular troops were transported long distances within eight hours to join regiments in the PLA’s two major bases – one in the southwest, the other in the east – in a maneuver to test the force’s mobilization and logistical readiness.
China Central Television reported earlier this week that the largest ever trans-regional dispatch of Navy Marine Corps involved multiple modes of transport, via air, water, rail and road.
It’s been reported that bullet trains from the China Railway Corp and an unconfirmed number of Air China and China Southern Airlines planes were requisitioned during separate mock war mobilizations.
PLA marines are believed to receive the best training China can offer, which includes parachuting and amphibious warfare exercises.
They are frontline troops often tasked with seizing beachheads, acting as a garrison or assault group in island chains, notably in potentially disputed territories in regional waters in amphibious warfare, and always on standby as a rapid reaction force in peacetime ready to respond to emergencies.
The naval infantry conducted its first live-fire drills in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in 2016.
The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported in March last year that the PLA was looking to expand its marine corps from 20,000 to 100,000 to give more strength to Beijing’s territorial claims, as well as to safeguard its sprawling overseas investments.
The Chinese Ministry of National Defense subsequently confirmed the expansion in marines headcount.
It currently consists of two 10,000-man brigades with units including armor, artillery, missile, air defense, logistics, plus an extra 28,000 reinforcements can be drawn in wartime.
Some marines will be assigned to new port bases in Djibouti and Gwadar in Pakistan.