A U.S. Marine leads his squad during a field exercise, at Camp Villere, Slidell, La. Credit: Pfc. Colby Bundy.

Marine Corps Gen. David Berger’s plan is to redesign the force to confront a rising China — so goodbye tank battalions and bridging companies, as the Corps makes hefty cuts to form a lighter and faster Pacific fighting force.

According to a news release from Marine Corps Combat Development Command, the Marines are axing all three of its tank battalions, and chucking out all law enforcement battalions and bridging companies, according to a special report from Shawn Snow at the Marine Corps Times.

The Corps is also cutting the number of grunt battalions from 24 to 21, artillery cannon batteries from 21 to five and amphibious vehicle companies from six to four, according to the release.

Aviation is taking a hit too, the Marines plan to cut back on MV-22 Osprey, attack and heavy lift squadrons, the report said.

The Marines also plan to reduce the number of primary authorized F-35B and F-35C fifth generation stealth fighters per squadron from 16 to 10, according to MCCDC.

Overall, it expects a reduction of 12,000 personnel across the force over the next 10 years, the report said.

It’s unknown how cuts to the number of grunt battalions will impact the Corps’ experimentation with the 12-Marine and 15-Marine rifle squad configuration. The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit was the first Marine unit to deploy and experiment with a 15-Marine squad model, the report said.

Overall, the US Marines are expecting a reduction of 12,000 personnel across the force over the next 10 years. Credit: Sgt. Audrey Rampton.

But the Corps says it wants its future infantry smaller.

Infantry battalions will be smaller to support naval expeditionary warfare” and designed to support a fighting concept known as Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations — which will see Marines decentralized and distributed across the Pacific on Islands or floating barge bases, the report said.

The changes, expected to take place over the course of the next 10 years, were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

As the Corp divests of legacy equipment and units, the Marines say they plan to invest in long-range precision fires, reconnaissance and unmanned systems, the report said.

The Corps wants to double the number of unmanned squadrons and “austere lethal unmanned air and ground systems, enhancing our ability to sense and strike,” MCCDC said in the release.

The Marines says it wants a “300 percent increase in rocket artillery capacity” with anti-ship missiles. The Corps is eyeing a remotely operated rocket artillery HIMARS launcher that uses the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle paired with the Naval Strike Missile to sink ships at sea.

Defense News reported the Navy requested US$64 million for fiscal year 20201 for a program that pairs anti-ship missiles with existing vehicles known as the Ground-based Anti-ship Missile and Remotely Operated Ground Unit Expeditionary (ROGUE) Fires Vehicle.

“Moving forward, we will continue to judiciously evaluate, wargame, experiment, and refine our force design, improving service capabilities and lethality for deterrence, competition, and conflict,” MCCDC said in the release.

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